Anger at £41m handouts to prisoners

Let short-term prisoners vote - MPs

Prisoners have been paid £41 million in benefits they are not entitled to, including Jobseeker's Allowance, it is claimed.

Payments of state aid have been wrongly made to people in prison for the last six years, the Daily Mirror said.
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Murderers, rapists and violent criminals are thought be among those wrongly receiving the benefits, which included income support and sickness benefits.

The disclosure of the payments was made following requests under freedom of information laws,
covering six years from 2007.

That year prisoners were overpaid £8.8m in benefits, the Mirror said. In 2008/09 £8.7m was wrongly handed out, £7.7m the following year, £14m from 2010-12 and £2m last year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has managed to recover £19.7m of the money, leaving £21m outstanding, according to the newspaper.

Labour MP Grahame Morris said: "This is just wrong. How can prisoners be overpaid £41m they are not entitled to?

"There must be an investigation into how this was allowed to happen and urgent steps taken to ensure there are checks in place so it doesn't go on happening."

The DWP said new data sharing processes stop benefits claims on the day people go into prison, resulting in a 71% fall in incorrectly awarded benefits last year.

Recovery of prisoner debts was also higher than losses for the first time in 2013, the DWP said.

A spokesman added: "We now receive information on all people entering prison so we can make sure benefit claims are stopped quickly as the cell door closes - instead of the old system of relying on prisoners reporting their own benefits to us.

"We are now seeing prisoners' debts dropping, but we are continuing our work to bring this down further."
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