DWP warning of probe on bank accounts of pensioners with ‘too much’ savings | Personal Finance | Finance

Pensioners have had their bank accounts probed by the government after an alarming rise in fraud connecting to Pensions Credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions says it has been checking thousands of pensioners’ bank statements after a huge rise in false claims.

Overpayments of Pension Credit, a top-up for older people on a low income, soared to £520 million in the financial year ending April 2024, a big rise on the £330 million in the previous year.

BirminghamLive reports the overpayments included £210 million of fraud, a substantial increase on the previous year’s £120 million.

Both the increases were described as “statistically significant” with under-declaration of financial assets and extended overseas stays being the main causes.

Pension Credit gives people extra money to help with living costs if they are over State Pension age and on a low income. It can also help with housing costs, write off some or all of a person’s council tax bill and allow you to get a free TV licence if you’re aged 75 and over.

The DWP payment tops up your weekly retirement income to a minimum guarantee of £218.15 if you’re single or a joint total of £332.95 if you have a partner, with additional amounts available to those with children, disabilities or caring responsibilities.

It can also provide access to reduced costs for NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments, and is one of the qualifying benefits for the Warm Home Discount payment of £150 every winter.

Government campaigns have encouraged more people to apply because it’s thought up to 850,000 eligible households are missing out, with as much as £1.7 billion of Pension Credit going unclaimed.

Speaking to the Work and Pensions committee, DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield said: “It is not that we know what is going on with every single person who is claiming Pension Credit.

“Across the benefit system we do a sample of about 15,000 cases selecting a number of benefits that we do every year and some we do only now and again.

“Pension Credit is one that we looked at this year. We sampled a number of people who were claiming Pension Credit and we said: ‘Right, we are going to look at your claim. We are going to go through it. You are claiming on this basis for this amount. This tells us for example that you do not have income coming in from capital to a large extent. Let us understand that. We need to see your bank account’.”

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