§ Mr. Matthew Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress his Department has made in encouraging local authorities to reduce council tax and housing benefit fraud; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Burt
The Department has recently undertaken several initiatives to heighten fraud awareness amongst local authority staff and to encourage local authorities in their anti-fraud workFrom April 1993 authorities will not only receive an increase in benefit subsidy, from 25 per cent. to full rate, for overpayments resulting from fraud but authorities will also share in benefit savings they achieve above specific baseline figures.In May 1993, a model national fraud service level agreement was signed, which had been prepared by the Department, in consultation with the local authority associations and the Benefits Agency. The agreement provides a framework for effective two-way liaison between fraud sections in local authorities and Benefits Agency sector fraud.In 1992–93, the Department, in conjuction with the Benefits Agency training unit, offered free fraud training to authorities and funds have now been secured for further training in 1993–94.The Department will be involved in and do all it can to support the newly formed London-wide team of local authority specialists which has been set o up to co-ordinate authorities' anti-fraud efforts across borough boundaries.