Benefits blunder saw prisoners pocket almost £10,000 per week in 2019

Prisoners pocketed almost £10,000 per week in benefits by mistake last year because handouts carried on despite them being behind bars.

Convicts at jails across Britain got payments for pensions, disability benefit, income support and job seekers allowance despite being held in prison at the expense of taxpayers.

The revelation was released as part of a Freedom of Information Act reply from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

It showed last year an estimated £485,000 was paid to people in prison who were not entitled to the cash.

The vast majority of the handouts were classified as having been paid out by mistake because of confusion from the prisoner or officials over what they were entitled to claim for.

A person’s entitlement to nearly all benefits stops as soon as they are imprisoned although some inmates may still get help with housing costs if their sentence is less than six months.

Latest figures from the DWP show a total of £4.1billion – which is £79million-per-week – is paid out on the £184billion benefit budget because of mistakes or fraud every year.

John O’Connell, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Paying out benefits to those behind bars is preposterous.

“Crooks are already looked after at a significant cost to the taxpayer, so for that to be topped up with benefits payments is criminal.

“Incompetence is no excuse; the DWP and prison service must ensure that lags are paying their debt to society, not getting paid for serving at Her Majesty’s pleasure.”

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