Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

Criminals On Benefits Face Increased Fines

Benefit claimants who break the law could be stripped of up to five times as much state cash per week in fines, the Prime Minister has warned.

Those who fail to pay a fine after they have been convicted of a crime could lose up to £25 per week instead of the present £5 maximum.

A £25 penalty would represent about 37% of the present rate of jobseeker’s allowance

With the summer riots still fresh in the nation’s memory, the Prime Minister said the plans will show offenders they cannot get away with paying “the bare minimum”.

Official figures showed 40% of those appearing in court for rioting across England were claiming a state benefit of some kind, compared to 12% for the general population.

Some of the rioters were claiming unemployment benefits and others received incapacity benefit. A few of those caught were claiming both.

The new maximum deduction will come into force in 2013 to coincide with the introduction of Universal Credit – the Government’s new welfare payment system that rolls several existing benefits into one.

Mr Cameron, who is in Perth, Australia, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, said: “People need to understand if they commit a crime they will face the consequences.

“The system as it stands at the moment is far too soft and does not always send the right signals.

“(Work and Pensions Secretary) Iain Duncan Smith and I are determined to see responsibility and fairness restored to the welfare system and this clearly does precisely that.

“If you commit a crime and you are on benefits, you can no longer expect to get away with paying the bare minimum.”

Mr Duncan Smith said: “The summer’s riots showed that, for some people, the present system did not make them think about what they were doing.

“The PM and I were clear that we would look at all parts of the benefit system and ensure that people feel the full effects of their actions.

“I do not want to be in the business of leaving people without any money to support themselves but, equally, individuals must know that they cannot commit crime that impacts on the livelihoods and the communities of hard-working people without consequences.”