§ Mr. McCusker
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proposals he has regarding ways and means of eliminating abuses in the payment of social security benefits.
§ Mr. Carter
The Northern Ireland Department of Health and Social Services has a specialist branch whose function is the detection and prevention of abuses in the payment of social security benefits. Under the control of this branch there are a number of officers working in the field.
For obvious reasons details of the work of these officers cannot be publicised, but they include such things as spot checks, unexpected interviews and selective follow-up of certain types of claims where the risk of deception is higher than usual. The detection rate is high and there were over 500 successful prosecutions in 1976.
Prevention, however, must take precedence, and the specialists are continually reviewing their anti-fraud techniques to outwit those persons who set out to abuse the social security scheme.