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11 Aug 2014

'Abroad fraud' figures recycled again

In February we looked at 'abroad fraud', which the government estimated at £84 million in 2012/13.

As we pointed out then, the problem with publicising big numbers for 'abroad fraud' is that they then make up too large a part of the overall benefit fraud total - now more than 6%.

How likely is that, considering the small number of overseas claimants relative to the overall total?

In June, the government recycled the numbers, as we reported here.

Now, in what the Daily Mail calls "an astonishing new league table", we are told that benefit fraud overseas has cost us over £80m. The only astonishing aspect is that it's the same as the figures publicised in February and June. Even the number of cases - 7,296 - is unchanged from February.

The name of the minister has changed - it is now the smartly dressed Mark Harper. He may perhaps be forgiven for not realising that he was churning stale news, though he has an office to save him from these traps.

However, Tamara Cohen, Political Correspondent at the Mail, should perhaps glance at her own paper's back numbers before she excitedly describes these figures as 'astonishing' and 'new'.

Mr Harper has sold her a pup, and Ms Cohen - who evidently aspires to be a journalist - has bought it.

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