HC Deb 10 December 1996 vol 287 c178W
20. Mr. Gerrard

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action his Department his taking to combat housing benefit fraud by landlords. [6864]

Mr. Heald

We have in place a comprehensive strategy for combating all housing benefit fraud, including landlord fraud. For example, this year we have provided £1 million in start-up funding for a pilot local authority team to tackle organised fraud across London borough boundaries. We propose to take further powers to detect and punish fraudsters, including fraudulent landlords, in the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Bill, now in Committee.

24. Mr. Robathan

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what rewards and penalties he plans to give local authorities to encourage them to reduce housing benefit fraud. [6868]

Mr. Roger Evans

Each local authority is set a threshold of weekly benefit savings to be made through the detection of housing benefit and council tax benefit fraud. Local authorities can earn additional subsidy through performance in relation to their weekly benefit savings thresholds, and can have subsidy withheld for poor performance.

We are currently consulting the local authority associations on the proposed arrangements for 1997–98.

The Social Security Administration (Fraud) Bill contains proposals to strengthen my right hon. Friend's powers to increase subsidy to encourage local authorities to combat fraud and clarifies his existing broad powers to reduce subsidy.