The DWP will look for “two things” when it starts checking the bank accounts of benefit claimants

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has outlined the two main factors it will look at when its new powers to inspect the bank accounts of benefit claimants come into effect. These new powers are part of an effort by the DWP to reduce fraud, debt and error in the benefits system.

One of the most controversial aspects of this initiative is giving DWP investigators the power to examine claimants’ bank accounts. This measure, called “Third Party Data Collection”, is a form of “data sharing” power. The DWP says it requires third parties, such as banks, to provide relevant information that could indicate a claimant does not meet the eligibility requirements for the benefit they are receiving – for example, having excessive savings.

Under the current Universal Credit regulations, you are not eligible if you have more than £16,000 in cash, savings and investments. The DWP said this would be its “top priority”.

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In addition, it will also track whether applicants live abroad longer than the rules allow. A recent amendment to the bill – currently progressing to the House of Lords – requires banks to monitor their customers receiving these benefits and report to the DWP if an account exceeds the capital limit or is used abroad for more than four weeks . , the Mirror reports.

The DWP has assured people that under the new measures they will only receive “limited and relevant” information, which could indicate potential benefit fraud. However, this will not include access to the applicant’s bank accounts or spending information.

Earlier, the DWP announced plans to monitor accounts at the top 15 UK banks, covering 97% of benefit claimant accounts, including those at Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, NatWest, Santander and TSB.

The department emphasized that identified claims will be investigated as usual with no automatic penalties applied. It also said in a recent assessment paper that there will be no “automated decisions” made solely on data, ensuring that caseworkers consider the potential vulnerability of claimants and use automation responsibly .