UK Politics

Credit check plan to crack down on benefit cheats

Coins and notes Image copyright PA
Image caption The government says it wants to "deliver" for people who "play by the rules"

Benefit cheats will be subject to credit checks to see if they have any high-value assets, in a bid to clamp down on fraud, ministers have said.

The Department for Work and Pensions says the aim is also to recoup more of the £1.2bn the government loses to benefit fraud every year.

A No 10 spokesman said getting the welfare budget under control is "key".

Credit references can already be checked by officials but are not often used and are dependent on tip-offs.

'Something-for-nothing culture'

Prime Minister David Cameron believes calling in bailiffs to confiscate and sell expensive items, such as cars and computers, from cheats will be a strong deterrent to fraudsters.

Low-value possessions and essential items are unlikely to be taken.

"Getting the welfare budget under control is a key part of our long-term plan for the economy," said the spokesman.

"We want to end the something-for-nothing culture and deliver for people who want to work hard and play by the rules."

The government launched a scheme this year to encourage benefit claimants to disclose changes in their circumstances to help prevent overpayment, which costs £1.6bn a year.

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