HC Deb 22 July 1996 vol 282 cc67-8W
Mr. Frank Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will(a) list the figures for weekly benefit savings achieved in each area where Operation Spotlight has taken place, (b) give a breakdown of these savings by the initiative which detected the fraud and (c) indicate how long each person from whom benefit was withdrawn remained out of receipt of benefit. [35975]

Mr. Heald

[holding answer 8 July 1996]: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows:

Where the spotlight on benefit cheats campaigns have finished, and the majority of results are available, the total amount of benefit savings achieved so far for the relevant months is as follows. The final savings for the area in 1995–96 are also shown to give a comparison of the relative success of the spotlight campaign.

£ million
Total savings in spotlight period (4 weeks) Full-year fraud savings for 1995–96
Croydon 1.6 2.6
Haringey and Enfield 4.1 5.6
Edinburgh 3.6 9.0
Glasgow 3.2 25.7
Westminster and Camden 0.8 3.5
Leeds 3.2 6.4

1 Figures as at 5 July 1996.

2 There are variations in the size and composition of the spotlight areas and the type of anti-fraud activities in each place. Simple comparisons of on area's results with another's would therefore be misleading and should be avoided.

3 The savings shown are from fraud detection activity, and do not take account of any deterrent effect that may have resulted from the surrounding publicity. Spotlight has also generated additional savings from housing benefit fraud detected by local authorities, and extra activity for other agencies and departments, such as the Contributions Agency, Child Support Agency, Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise, and the immigration service.

4 Although spotlight operations have now finished in Birmingham, Nottingham and Bristol, cases referred during the operational period continue to be processed, and results are still being evaluated. Spotlight operations also continue in the Isle of Wight, Lancaster and Barrow in Furness. Cardiff. Plymouth, Great Yarmouth. Brighton, Darlington, Rhyl and the Medway towns.

5 The individual savings figures have been calculated using the normal 32-week methodology, which is approved by the Treasury and the National Audit Office.

Weekly benefit savings for other areas are not yet finalised, but the total estimated savings for the campaigns so far, including the above, now exceed £27 million.