Universal Credit claimants will have to pose for photos with their local newspaper as part of government plans to tackle fraud.
The Mirror reports The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced the new measure to combat illegal claims as face-to-face assessments are still suspended.
Claimants are asked to take a photo outside their home and next to their street sign, as well with a copy of their local newspaper which they can submit via the online portal.
The Public Interest Law Centre shared a note sent to a claimant from the DWP which said: “Further to today’s phone call, I now require you to provide the following information.
“1. A photo of your ID card or passport photo open on the photo page.
“2. A photo of your ID card or passport open on the photo page held next to your face.
“3. A photo of you stood outside the front door (open behind you) of the property you live at. Ask someone to take this from the street so that whole property can be seen.
“4. A photo of you stood next to your street sign with your right hand holding it. Ask someone to take this photo from a few metres away so that the background can be clearly seen.
“5. A photo of you holding your local newspaper for the area you live (not a national tabloid newspaper). This should be dated the same day as you upload the photo.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “At the start of the pandemic we suspended face-to-face verification of new claims as part of our Trust and Protect scheme to ensure all legitimate claimants got paid.
“We always said we would go back and verify claims, in order to protect the public purse, as some people sadly chose to abuse the temporary arrangements.
“We are now checking cases and have implemented this approach temporarily in a small number of cases where a claimant has been unable to interact with us remotely, ahead of the return of in-person verification at jobcentres.”
The Mirror reports there are thousands of claimants are still under investigation after the DWP announced a review into Covid fraud in May.
What is benefit fraud?
Benefit fraud occurs when a person applies for and claims a benefit they are not entitled to.
For example, faking an illness or injury to get unemployment or disability benefits, or falsifying documents.
False claimants could find themselves in court if the DWP suspects fraud after gathering evidence from surveillance, interviews, and document tracing to investigate suspicious cases.
When you are notified, you will also be told whether you are to receive a visit from a Fraud Investigation Officer (FIO), or whether they require you to attend an interview.
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