Benefit Fraud and Policy Alienation Among Civil Servants

Lene Mosegaard Søbjerg

Abstract


This article examines how civil servants react to the obligation to report suspicions of benefit fraud among the clients with whom they work. Benefit fraud has gained increas- ing attention in (welfare) states across the world, and reporting suspicions of benefit fraud has become an obligation for many civil servants. This new task contrasts with the tradi- tional role of many civil servants and this study examines how the new task is perceived. The theoretical concept of policy alienation is used to analyse the results of a question- naire sent to civil servants in a Danish municipality. A remarkable outcome of the study is a very high level of non-response. The unwillingness to participate in the study indicates significant policy alienation. The analysis further shows that the policy makes sense to civil servants on a societal level but not on an individual level. This conclusion is sup- ported by the fact that the department in which the civil servants are employed is highly influential in terms of how the civil servants view the task. This implies that the manage- ment and heads of departments can affect the level of policy alienation within their own departments and they consequently have a high impact on how civil servants implement new legislation.


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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413