A campaign to combat benefit fraud has been launched today.

Epping Forest is one of six pilot areas for the scheme which sees a mix of posters and adverts in newspapers and on Facebook urging readers to report suspected benefit cheats.

The Department for Work and Pensions will also send letters to claimants instructing them to tell authorities of any change in circumstances, such as getting a job or moving in with a partner, which may affect their benefits and lead to overpayments.

The pilot will last between four and six weeks and its success will be measured by analysing responses to the phone numbers publicised in the different media in order to find the most effective methods of communication for the national rollout.

Benefit fraud was estimated to have cost the government £1.2 billion in 2012/13 with claimant error responsible for £1.6 billion and errors by officials in handling claims costing £0.7 billion.