The DWP have published the results of a survey on the public’s attitudes to a worrying list of new powers it is considering acquiring, allegedly in order to combat fraud, error and debt in the benefits system.

The proposed new powers include:

  • Trained DWP investigators having arrest powers
  • Trained DWP investigators having search and seizure powers
  • Collecting information about where claimants are spending money
  • Collecting banking information as soon as fraud is suspected, rather than waiting for a criminal investigation
  • Asking banks to share information about accounts which look like someone may be committing fraud
  • Government organisations sharing data with DWP about claimants

The DWP research claims to show that a majority of the public were in favour of every one of these measures being introduced.

Even amongst a group of claimants, the DWP claim, more people considered the powers acceptable than found them unacceptable, with the exception of collecting information about where claimants are spending money. 

Given the levels of incompetence, data loss and unaccountability at the DWP, the possibility that staff could arrest claimants and seize their possessions is likely to alarm many readers.

Equally, the idea that the DWP could begin examining bank accounts and looking at how a claimant is spending their money merely because the they suspect fraud is a cause for real concern.

With the department increasingly relying on AI and algorithms they don’t fully understand to detect fraud, the possibility of claimants being wrongfully arrested and facing long and poorly resourced investigations seems real.

No legislation has yet been put forward by the DWP and many will hope that a general election intervenes and that these proposals never become anything more than the wish list of a failing department.

You can read the full details of the DWP consultation on possible new powers here.

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    Francis Faith · 4 months ago
    I have just had to submit bank statements from July 2020. They have adked me about transactions from friends , how I spend my money and also screenshots of all my PayPal transactions because I had managed to save some money (over 6 thousand) they spoke to me like I was committing fraud even though I had declared my savings explaining I was trying to save to move away after years of domestic abuse. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Chris H · 4 months ago
    My life has been made a misery by the DWP and my bank over the last four months.. they have now stopped my benefits without warning including rent! they are ignoring my messages.. also I have been upfront with them.. but if this continues .. there will be consequences .. I am very ill and have multiple health issues .. I have nothing to lose.. and I have a feeling that the vulnerable are considered a waste of space and money! 
    They want us to die .. it's as simple as that!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Francis Faith · 4 months ago
      @Chris H I have just posted a message above. I can honestly say they are pushing me over the edge. Limited capability due to mental health yet they have me jumping through hoops! Good luck,  stay strong.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jane cook · 5 months ago
    I've seen things here and there about thos are they already doing checks or is it going to happen in future.
    Makes me feel a bit demoralised having my bank account scanned by the dwp. 
    I have severe asthma and osteoarthritis so I do a lot of buying things online including my food shopping as I don't really go out due to my illnesses, are they going scrutinise me for buying things I need ?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    jay · 5 months ago
    My current HSBC bank account online only shows statements going back to 2018. I am not doing anything wrong, I just want to look at them since someone else might be. 

    Can the DWP get statements prior to this? 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Richard · 5 months ago
    DWP recently asked me to send them 1 month of bank statements but not heard back from them what they were investigating.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Bob smith · 5 months ago
      @Richard Askin 4 4weeks bank statements happens all the time it'll just to see what you have told them is the same as
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    Ic · 5 months ago
    If it hasn't been passed yet why  did UC distress my autistic daughter at end of her first year  in November on UC phoning her and asking to go through her bank statements even PayPal account, vinted etc why can they do that if not approved yet and no accusation of suspected fraud was mentioned. It really upset her, luckily her dad can speak for her on anything dwp related but I'm Furious , huge invasion of privacy. She had £1100 in her account considering she only had not long been paid again. They even questioned an unnaccounted £230 which was her birthday money we paid into her account. I mean c'mon. Even the guy on phone you could sense he was very uncomfortable asking questions. . I'm all for it if they suspect fraud but a new claimant who has autism and extreme anxiety innocently trying to navigate adult life at 18.  I'm so angry. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tony · 5 months ago
    DWP fraudulently changed the benifit entitlement dats 3 years after they were paid putting my client £7000 in debt 
    They ignored evidence from the Secretary of State as to benefits entitlement on a mandatory reconsideration , they fraudulently transmitted the fake debt to debt recovery , , they eventually put the white flag up at tribunal , but failed to repay the £1500 they had deducted in 18 transactions , putting my client in great debt and destitution 

    No one cares, three requests to sort this out . 22 months 

    If you think you can trust these “ skilled investigators” to trawl your bank accounts …





    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Carol Wynne · 4 months ago
      @Tony C'mon folks, wake up, the DWP are already doing this !!!. Even tho' you aren't doing anything fraudulent or wrong.  They love the power and  want to try and get the dirt on you. I've been under their scrutiny and surveillance for years to no avail.  Just sayin.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    MG · 5 months ago
    I have no problem in showing my data as long as it's done properly. 
    My concern it's not the investigators do not do a proper job.
    Individuals who done nothing wrong and suffer conditions that cause problems for them can't address the questions effectively. 
    The quality of there train from my experience is poor and safe guards to protect the individual are lacking.

    It reminds of the post office scandal 
    the way they operate.

  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Aud · 5 months ago
    Anything thst goes through your bank account can be traced. If you take it out in cash in small amounts you should be ok (if the overall before withdrawal was below the amount allowed) but if you withdraw large amounts that would have taken you over the amount allowed, in savings whilst on benefits even if money no longer in account you can be prosecuted.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Fred · 6 months ago
    Can someone tell me this new bill set by government recently checking peoples banks has this now come into power or is it something they are hoping can happen?
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Ic · 5 months ago
      @Despot But they have already done it to my disabled daughter aged 19. It's terrible the stress it caused her as she doesn't understand how it all works. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Despot · 6 months ago
      @Fred It has not been passed yet. It's curently at the 'Committee' stage in the House of Lords
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tom Simon · 7 months ago
    i'll just be taking my money out of the bank as soon as it is paid in, and revert back to paying for things in cash, i always said cash was king, looks like i was right.  how outrageous the DWP will be snooping on the things you buy! but how exactly can they know what you spend your money on anyway, as bank statements don't list the actual product you purchased! just the date, amount, place and time!!! another scheme ripe for spectacular  failure
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Andy · 5 months ago
      @Tom Simon The name of the shop usually appears on bank statements with the payment amount. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      David · 6 months ago
      @Tom Simon Using cash has become more and more difficult and is impossible for many of us who don't leave our homes and purchase everything online.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tom Simon · 7 months ago
    how can this ever work, people will simply put their money in the accounts of family and friends with no connection to the DWP! this is another hair brained tory scheme, that is going to cost the public purse a minimum 30million a year!!!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      David · 6 months ago
      @Tom Simon They will follow the money to those accounts. And what about those who don't have friends or family?.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tom Simon · 7 months ago
    after reading this article, it just cements my view, that the UK is moving ever closer to George Orwell's ''Nineteen Eighty Four''.  i think it is outrageous that the DWP can spy on the things you buy, and seize your possessions! we need a GE right now, as we know Labour will bin anything and everything relating to tory proposals, including this absurd scheme.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Michael · 6 months ago
      @Tom Simon But Labour won't "bin anything and everything",  will they, in all genuine seriousness.

      As an example, universal credit which Labour promised to reverse, will now not be reversed.

      And don't expect any changes to the proposed new WCA assessment that will be phased in throughout 2025. Labour will keep this too, whilst letting the Torys take all the stick for initial implementation.

      They are as bad as each other, and most people with an ounce of common sense, know this.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Yo-yo · 7 months ago
      @Tom Simon Labour are Tories in red ties now
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Dean · 7 months ago
    If we do that to them we're burglars
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Debbie Cotton · 7 months ago
    Oh hello, I thought the Stasi had been disbanded?  Obviously not
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Janb · 7 months ago
    I've just signed this petition and will pass on to others I know will be affected. Thank you all as I've never heard about this until now .
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Andy · 7 months ago
    Are we suddenly living in a totalitarian state?
    This is because of the 6-7 Billion pounds that was defrauded by people who opened companies and were claiming furlough and anything else that could be claimed for. The whole lot showed how inept the DWP and HMRC are.
    Yet again the disabled are the first they pick on, easy target in my view. How about they recover through the courts the money they gave away? Simply because they can’t, impossible job, so while these scumbags are rubbing their hands the rest of us are being scrutinised unfairly. Why do they need to know where we shop for gods sake.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tony davies · 7 months ago
    What a lot of people do not seem to realize is they have included Pensions in this legislation, so at some point everyones account will be monitored
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Charlotte Allenby · 7 months ago
    Well, the bill has had its third reading in Parliament and it’s now gone to the Lords . Looking at the details , there is a lot of extra add ins that are pretty worrying and very ‘big brother-ish’ 
    The problem is that the DWP are incredibly incompetent and whenever I have had dealings with them they always have problems with pulling details up on their computer systems !! Their IT information systems are hopelessly inefficient .. They already have huge backlogs ..
    So, exactly how do they plan to implement all of this new legislation ? 
    Having dealt with them in the past ( not as a claimant) I can say that my experience has been extremely poor..
    I truly wouldn’t trust them to not make huge errors !  Unfortunately , this new ‘ right to snoop into your bank account will do nothing to prevent the big fraudsters ( they will have offsite accounts or likely have money paid into other peoples accounts or use cash .. No , it’s the people  on pension credit and universal credit and whatever else benefit there is .,
    At the end of the day - this system of getting the banks to simply flag up everyone who receives payments from DWP and forward it to the DWP is going to cause mayhem - as DWP also administers the state pension which is not means tested .. I don’t see how it will be possible to differentiate between the different payments .. Thus it is going to cause  massive issues and a string of angry responses from people who are not receiving means tested benefits, but simply in receipt of the state pension .
    I have no doubt that the bill will proceed / I just hope that someone in the House of Lords  actually thoroughly scrutinised the bill .. before agreeing a bill that is at the tipping point of pushing us all into a very scary undemocratic place ..

    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Tom Simon · 7 months ago
      @John Seymour all new Bills when passed to the Lords takes one year minimum, so this Bill won't be rolled out until 2025, and full implementation not happening until 2030
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      John Seymour · 7 months ago
      @Charlotte Allenby Do you think it will sail throught the House of Lords ? how long does this take compared to Commons ?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    The Dog mother · 7 months ago
    Don't know if people realise this also includes pensioners bank accounts! And it won't end there.

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