PM gets tough on benefit cheats
David Cameron has promised a crackdown on benefit cheats and tax dodgers as he set his sights on the £1.5 billion illegally claimed each year.
The Prime Minister said cheating the system was "wrong" and that getting tough would deliver huge savings as the Government seeks to rebuild the economy.
Speaking at a series of events in Greater Manchester, he added that people should not be concerned about the use of private firms to root out cheats.
Mr Cameron insisted the state was entitled to call on outside help to claw back taxpayers' money lost to fraud.
The Prime Minister also plans to clamp down on errors in the system which see a further £3.7 billion wrongly handed out annually.
He said reducing the cost of fraud and error would be the "first and deepest" cut in public spending and that credit rating agencies could be recruited to help identify false claims.
"£1.5 billion is enough to pay for something like 40,000 nurses in the NHS," Mr Cameron said during a PM Direct question and answer session.
"There are some people who are claiming welfare who are not entitled to it and that is just wrong and that should stop."
Insisting nobody wanted to see "brutal cuts" as part of measures to reduce the deficit, the Prime Minister added: "We should start with things we should not be spending money on anyway, such as benefit fraud and ID cards, only then should we be asking how do we do things more efficiently.
"Tax evasion is as bad as benefit fraud and both need to be avoided."