HC Deb 25 May 1995 vol 260 cc726-7W
Mr. Bendall

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many operations against benefit fraud by minicab drivers have been mounted by the Employment Service since January 1991; how many investigations were carried out; how many minicab drivers were found to be claiming social security benefits; what was the value of the benefits saved; and what was the cost of the operation. [26182]

Miss Widdecombe

Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from A. G. Johnson to Mr. Vivian Bendall, dated 25 May 1995: The Secretary of State has asked me, in the absence of the Chief Executive, to reply to your question about investigations by Employment Service (ES) Inspectors into mini cab drivers since 1991. Unfortunately, the information you requested is not available. Over the last 18 months (the period for which details concerning individual investigations is kept) ES Inspectors have carried out over 400,000 investigations covering all areas of the economy. However case files are held under clients' names and not by occupation or industry. Experience has shown that benefit fraud is more prevalent in certain areas of employment, mini cab driving being one. My inspectors have and will continue to target these areas. Often it has been legitimate licensed taxi drivers and their trade associations who have provided information for my inspectors to act on. Although I am unable to supply the information you seek on the investigation of mini cab drivers, the table below shows the performance of the ES Inspectors over the last three years.

1992–93 1993–94 1994–95
Total number of staff 1,343 1,343 1,343
(investigators) (780) (780) (780)
£71.15 £80.12 £92.1
Gross savings1 million million million
Cost of fraud Operation £26.44 £26.84 £27.5
million million million
£44.71 £53.28 £64.6
Net savings million million million
Investment return2 £2.69 £2.99 £3.35
Number of sign-offs3 61,129 67,426 78,231
1 This figure is calculated by multiplying the weekly amount of benefit saved by 22. The 22-week figure was identified by the Department of social Security research and represents the average number of weeks claimants would have remained on the register if they had not been investigated by fraud staff.
2 Pounds of benefit saved for ever £ of cost.
3 Number of clients withdrawing their claims to benefit after investigation by ES inspectors.

I hope this is helpful.

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