Fewer people investigating private contractors fraud, while benefit investigators increase

Here’s a good example of following the money to see exactly where the priorities lie on two kinds of ‘benefit fraud’: fraud by benefit claimants, and fraud by the companies who get the contracts to run welfare services.

Rajeev Syal reports that the government has cut those people responsible for investigating fraud by private contractors from 69 to 49 in two years: a drop of 29%.

“Over the same period the number of investigators examining allegations of fraud against benefit claimants rose from 2,760 to 2,876.”

This is particularly important given that, while unemployment is rising, the involvement of private contractors is rising too, if not more so:

“Under the government’s welfare reforms, which are being implemented quickly, more than 3.2 million people will be assessed by private companies as to whether they can rejoin the workforce. Five-year contracts for the project – with an option for two-year extensions – will be awarded on a regional basis, with the winners announced in July for implementation from April 2013. G4S carried out a trial for the government last year”

Lots of scope, then, for further investigation – as well as a template for running the numbers on other areas where public services are outsourced: how many people are employed to scrutinise those relationships? And how has that changed? 

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