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A staggering 73 million pounds was paid out in benefits to people who were already dead, new research has revealed.
Much of the over-payment was forwarded to expatriates whose bereavement had not been notified to the UK government's Department of Works and Pensions (DWP).

The research, by the Conservatives, revealed that 37 percent of overpayments, worth 27 million pounds, had to be written off, whilst the DWP was forced to contact bereaved families to claw back the rest.

The State pension is the biggest cause of overpayment with over 40 million pounds paid out after claimants had died.
Other overpaid benefits include 11.78 million pounds in attendance allowance, 8.41 million pounds in pension credit and 1.17 million pounds in incapacity benefit.

The news of the massive overpayment follows a Europewide campaign to ensure ex-pats were able to claim UK benefits, such as attendance and carer's allowance, once they had moved abroad.

Shadow Secretary of State for Works and Pension, Theresa May, commented: “The DWP is fast becoming the department of waste and is clearly not fit for purpose. Secretary of State James Purnell is meant to be focussing on getting people back to work. Instead he can't even get his own house in order. What signal does this send out? It is absolutely ridiculous that thousands of people struggling on low incomes are missing out on benefits they are entitled to, whilst the Government is paying out millions each year to dead people. “Labour needs to get a grip on this problem straight away so they can actually focus support on those who need it most,” she commented.
A UK government official said it was no-one's fault that benefits were paid to people after they had passed away. “Through no fault of any individual, overpayments of benefit can arise following the death of a recipient. Such overpayments normally arise as a result of the department being notified of the death too late to stop an automated payment being made into the deceased's bank account. “We are doing all we can to improve the current process. This will reduce the number of these overpayments occuring. “The Department has a duty to recover overpaid funds where it is reasonable and cost effective to do so. “However, we seek to do this as sensitively as possible, taking into account of the fact that this will be a stressful time, particularly if the person contacted is a close friend or family member,” the official explained. “Overpayments are written off if the deceased has no estate or there are insufficient funds in the estate,” added the government official.