Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May has announced a new ‘three strikes’ policy to crack down on those who repeatedly defraud the benefits system.
This comes as new analysis reveals that under Labour benefit overpayments due to fraud and error have cost £80 a second since 1997.
"For too long Labour have let benefit cheats play the system, costing the taxpayer millions", May said.
"It is astounding that since 1997 welfare waste has cost the public £80 every second".
In total, Labour have wasted over £30 billion on fraud and error between 1997-98 and 2008-09. £14 billion of that has been wasted on benefit fraud.
The Department for Work and Pensions has had its accounts qualified for the last 20 years due to the high level of fraud and error in the benefits system
Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, only 143,838 people have been sanctioned for benefit fraud
The Conservatives have announced new plans to introduce tougher benefit sanctions for those found guilty of benefit fraud. This is about targeting the minority of those who are undermining the integrity of the benefits system.
Those who commit benefit fraud once will lose their out-of-work benefits for three months, a second offence will attract a benefit sanction of six months, and if someone commits fraud three times they face losing their out-of-work benefits for up to three years.
This is a big increase in the penalty, from the current situation where fraudulent claimants lose a maximum of 13 weeks benefit entitlement.
May said the Conservatives will "send out a strong message to people who fleece the taxpayer- you could lose your out of work benefits for three years".
"This is about fairness. While the whole country is tightening its belt it’s scandalous that thousands are managing to defraud the taxpayer out of billions."