Universal Credit clampdown under Labour set to be introduced with some people denied benefits

DWP logo / Kier Starmer

The DWP loophole in the benefits system is allowing killers to claim support, such as Universal Credit

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Temi Laleye

By Temi Laleye


Published: 09/07/2024

- 11:56

Updated: 09/07/2024

- 12:21

Violent criminals have been allowed access to state support such as Universal Credit due to a loophole in the benefits system, new research found

A Department for Work and Pensions Universal Credit clampdown will see violent criminals lose right to benefits under the newly elected Labour Government.

Currently, the loophole allows criminals to have access to state benefits such as Universal Credit. But following their landslide victory on July 4, it is expected that Labour will investigate and close this loophole as a matter of urgency.


The loophole was highlighted after research found that Nottingham murderer Valdo Calocane is among the dozens of offenders residing in a secure hospital who are claiming state support, such as Universal Credit.

The hospital claimed this is “standard practice” for killers who have not been sentenced to access their DWP benefits as they are treated as patients suffering from a mental disorder.

On the other hand the criminals serving time in prison rather than a secure hospital are not able to claim DWP benefit support.

If his sentence had been upgraded to a jail sentence, Calocane would have been left unable to claim benefits support.


Vadlo Calocane and DWP sign

Criminals serving time in prison rather than a secure hospital are not able to claim DWP benefit suppor

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During its campaign, Labour vowed that if elected it would ensure criminals lose the right of access to benefits.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) carried out by The Telegraph found that Calocane and almost 80 killers detained at Ashworth secure hospital in Merseyside are receiving thousands of pounds in Universal Credit, and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

A Labour spokesperson told The Telegraph that they would “urgently look at this case” if they come into power.

Emma Webber, a mother of one of the victims, slammed the “broken” criminal justice system.

She added: "We support any incoming government to address these as a matter of urgency."

Julian Hendy, from the Hundred Families charity, which supports families after mental health related homicides said: “It’s indefensible for convicted dangerous offenders who have committed the most serious of crimes to be rewarded with benefit payments.

“It’s particularly wrong that such offenders can, over the years, accrue many thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded payments when they have no expenses, whilst their victims struggle to access effective long-term care and support.

“It is a slap in the face for bereaved families. It’s not right and needs to change.

"We are calling on the new government to commit to correcting this wrong. By our calculations many millions of pounds could be saved and much better spent on victim services or more assertive care for people with serious mental illness to prevent further, avoidable tragedies.”

The new Prime Minister Keir Starmer has promised to "hit the ground running", telling his team that there is a "huge amount of work to do" but they would start straight away.

In its manifesto, Labour said it will review Universal Credit, reform disability benefit assessments and change the way Jobcentres work.

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Valdo Calocane sketch

During their campaign, Labour vowed that if elected they would ensure criminals lose the right of access to benefits

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As it stands, Universal Credit comes to £393.45 for those who are single and over 25 while couples get £617.60.

Hypothetically, someone residing in a secure hospital could get as much as £93,000 over two decades under the current benefit payment rate.

This money would not need to be spent on housing or utility costs as this is already being covered by the state.

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