HC Deb 26 January 1998 vol 305 cc15-6
11. Helen Jones

What proposals she has to tackle organised landlord benefit fraud. [23062]

Mr. Field

The initiatives include new powers for local authorities to collect information, a new criminal offence, and a new power for local authorities and central Government to share information when they attempt to crack down on fraud.

Helen Jones

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. I used to prosecute Department of Social Security fraud and I am reluctant to deprive my ex-colleagues of a chance to follow up cases in the courts. However, does my right hon. Friend agree that the best way in which to tackle fraud is to prevent it from happening in the first place? What plans does he have to identify areas where fraud is most likely to occur and to target resources at those areas?

Mr. Field

As my hon. Friend suggests, our plans are to ensure that counter-fraud measures are built in at the start of any benefit claim. May I stress that, while the Government attach enormous importance to countering benefit fraud, we attach equal importance to seeking out diligently those who are eligible for benefit but not claiming it. We run both those policies in tandem, which is one of the many factors that distinguish us from the Opposition.

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