[typography font=”Cardo” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#000000″][dropcap]J[/dropcap][/typography]ohn Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, has accused Scotland of failing to tackle the benefit fraud that has been caused by asylum seekers.
Mr Vine singled out the Home Office for what he described as “failing to combat fraud across the UK and for “wasting taxpayers money”. In the most recent report that has been published, he cites a number of sites across the country that are suffering from problems with similar situations.
However, Mr Vine told the BBC that there is nothing being done in Scotland to help tackle or solve the problem, which has resulted in bringing the entire system into disrepute. He said that, despite the evidence of a number of cases being found in Scotland, as it stands, there haven’t been any sort of prosecutions or even attempts made into recovering the fraudulent claims.
Currently, there is more than £150m per year spent on support and benefits for asylum seekers. Mr Vine said that [quote]The Home Office has absolutely no idea how much fraud is taking place in the asylum support system and in Scotland we found there was no effort being made to address fraud whatsoever. Whilst it is important to deal compassionately with those claiming asylum and give benefits where they are due, it’s equally important, because public money is at stake, to make sure any fraud is tackled effectively and we just didn’t find any evidence that this was happening in Scotland at all.[/quote]
People who are claiming asylum in Britain can apply for asylum support. This can be used to help cover the cost of living, which includes accommodation and financial assistance. The report from the chief inspector highlighted one case in particular, where a claimant had been paid £18,000 in asylum support when during the same period they had received a further £74,000 in benefits, a bursary from the NHS and had even earned illegal wages.
The result for this claimant in particular was that they were given a 12 month suspended jail term in January 2013, after being found to be guilty of committing fraud and using a selection of false documents.
Mr Vine said that there was no evidence to state there had been any effort to reclaim the taxpayers money, which amounted to £18,000, despite the fact that the offender had £10,500 in their bank account.
A Home Office spokesman said [quote]We have fully accepted all of the recommendations in this report and are already acting on them.We have increased staff resources on compliance, introduced a national structure for compliance teams and increased our fraud savings target. Credit checks are carried out in all cases and further inquiries made where there is a data match, for example with a bank or building society holding information about the person. We are determined to protect the taxpayer by ensuring asylum support is only granted where the criteria are met and is withdrawn promptly when eligibility ceases.[/quote]