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DWP spells out exactly who will be looking at benefit claimants' bank accounts

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There has been consternation about benefit claimants undergoing "mass surveillance" by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for months, following the announcement of new powers to access bank account information.

But, in a recently published plan to tackle fraud, the department has spelled out exactly who will access this information. Rather than have civil servants poring over account statements, banks will be asked by the DWP to provide information to help them investigate potential fraud, with each bank asked to check the claimant's information against benefit eligibility criteria.

Though the DWP has indicated that this system could be automated, or even run by AI, they have stated that they will not be accessing accounts themselves.

This change will stop the reliance on claimants accurately self-reporting financial information to their Work Coach. In their recently published Fraud Plan, the DWP explains: "This will require third parties to look within their own data and provide relevant information to DWP to help identify cases which merit further consideration to establish whether benefits are being, or have been, properly paid in accordance with the rules relating to those benefits." READ MORE: More WASPI women could die waiting for justice after Prime Minister says he will 'take time' The Fraud Plan was released alongside an announcement that the DWP was in the process of hiring a further 2,500 "external agents" to assist them with investigating potential fraud and error in the benefits system, which the department says could amount to as much as £8 billion a year.

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