Gareth Davies, the head of the National Audit Office, has reported on the 2020-21 accounts of the Department for Work and Pensions. He has qualified his audit opinion because of the material level of fraud and error in benefit expenditure.

Jump to downloads

His report sets out:

  • the reasons and context for his qualified audit opinion, including an overview of the Department’s estimates of fraud and error, the highest ever recorded;
  • the key facts around the systemic underpayment of State Pension due to errors by the Department;
  • the impact of COVID-19 on fraud and error and the Department’s strategy; and
  • the consequences of fraud and error overpayments and underpayments for claimants and the Department.

The Annual Report and Accounts for the Department for Work and Pensions can be seen here:

DWP annual report and accounts 2020 to 2021 – GOV.UK (

Audit certificate and report (pages 218-249)

“I am concerned that the level of fraud and error in the benefits system continues to increase year on year, now reaching its highest level since records began. This has a real impact on public funds and on those who face deductions to their income due to overpayments.

 “I recognise that the pandemic and the resulting surge in the number of claimants has increased DWP’s exposure to fraud and error. It must now review all cases that could have been subject to fraud during this time, whilst continuing to progress our past recommendations on how to reduce fraud and error.”

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO


Press release

View press release (15 Jul 2021)

Latest reports