Bizarre new rules for claiming Universal Credit revealed as part of new DWP fraud prevention shake-up

UNIVERSAL Credit claimants are being asked to prove their identity by taking a photo with a copy of their local newspaper as part of a fraud prevention shake-up.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has introduced the temporary new rules to combat fraud while avoiding face-to-face meetings.

Universal Credit claimants have also been asked to take a photo outside their home and next to their street sign, as well as with a copy of their local newspaper.

The new checks are part of the DWP's crack down on benefits fraud, which jumped during the pandemic as there were fewer checks.

There was £8.4billion worth of Universal Credit fraud and errors recorded last year.

The DWP is now seeking to claw back any Universal Credit that was received fraudulently in the pandemic, and to prevent any new applications slipping through the net.

But the DWP said the new checks are a last resort, and are implemented if it is unable to engage with a client in another way.

In a note to a claimant, shared on Twitter by the Public Interest Law Centre, the DWP said: "Further to today's phone call, I now require you to provide the following information.

"If you don't provide all of the information that we've requested your claim will be closed.

"1. A photo of your ID card of 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."

The government insists that a "small number" of claimants have been asked to provide these photos.

It also said that people who are unable to fulfil the new criteria can arrange a face-to-face verification meeting.

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.”

This month's Universal Credit cut hit 5.5million families and wiped £440million from incomes

Universal Credit claimants can apply to the £500m Household Support Fund to get help with bills after benefit cut.

The government is developing an app that can be used to apply for Universal Credit.

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