§ Mr. Kirkwood
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many cases of benefit fraud are currently(a) being investigated and (b) awaiting trial, as a result of people contacting the Benefit Fraud Hotline; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how many convictions have resulted from evidence gathered from the Benefit Fraud Hotline; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) how many people have rung the Benefit Fraud Hotline in each month since it was introduced; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Denham
Modernising the Social Security system is one of our key priorities. Our objective is to reduce poverty and welfare dependency and to promote work incentives. We will develop a system that supports work, savings and honesty. We will streamline services to provide better, simpler more efficient services to clients. We will be vigilant in tackling fraud, ensuring value for taxpayers' money and rebuilding confidence in the Social Security system.
The operation of the National Benefit Fraud Hotline is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to hon. Member.564W
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Archy Kirkwood, dated 24 June 1997:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions concerning the Benefit Fraud Hotline.There are 20,090 referrals from the National Benefit Fraud Hotline currently under investigation. The number of cases that have been referred for prosecution to date as a result of calls to the Hotline is 185.The number of convictions arising from referrals to the Hotline is not collated.The number of calls to the Hotline is shown in the attached table. Information is not yet available for May 1997.I hope you find this reply helpful.
Number of calls to the national Benefit Fraud Hotline Month Duration Number of calls 1996 August 4 weeks 41,826 September 5 weeks 32,633 October 4 weeks 22,360 November 4 weeks 21,805 December 4 weeks 14,139 1997 January 4 weeks 15,831 February 4 weeks 27,075 March 5 weeks 31,185 April 4 weeks 18,680
Figures are provisional and subject to change.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will list the value of fraudulent claims uncovered by the Benefits Agency in each of the 13 area directorates for each of the last five years for which figures are available(a) in terms of the cash value of benefits saved and (b) as a percentage of total payments made for each of the benefits administered. 
§ Mr. Denham
One of our key aims is to restore confidence in the benefit system by tackling fraud and ensuring value for taxpayers money. Queries on Benefits Agency operational matters are the responsibility of Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Archy Kirkwood, dated 23 June 1997:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question requesting the value of fraudulent claims uncovered by the Benefit Agency (BA) in each of the 13 area directorates for each of the last five years for which figures are available (a) in terms of the cash value of benefits saved and (b) as a percentage of total payments made for each of the benefits administered.The information is not available in the format requested. Fraud savings are derived from more than one source including the Benefit Fraud Investigation Service (BFIS), Organised Fraud Investigations (OFI), Central Benefit Directorates and, from 1995/96, the Security and Control Programme. The differing organisational set up within these sections do not match the Area Directorate structure. However figures are available for total fraud savings for the BA and are shown in the attached Annex.The savings are shown as Weekly Benefit Savings (WBS) and not in strict cash terms. WBS are calculated by multiplying the actual amount of benefit saved by 32 (32 weeks being the average length of time that benefit would have been paid, if it had not been reduced or withdrawn following the intervention of a fraud officer.) 565W While this gives an assessment of the amounts of benefit saved by counter fraud activity, it does not show the public expenditure savings accruing in that year from current and previous activity.Changes were introduced in the 1996 budget to try and refine the way savings are accounted for in the public expenditure plans. Savings are no longer attributed wholly to the year in which the fraud is detected, but spread over the period which the fraud would otherwise on average have continued. Due to changes in accounting methods a direct comparison in cash terms with previous years is not possible.We do not collate fraud savings separately by benefit type. Therefore fraud savings are expressed as a percentage of the total programme spend on all benefits for the last five years.I hope you find this reply helpful.
Year BA fraud (WBS) savings (£ billion BA programme expenditure (£ billion approximately) Fraud savings (WBS) as a percentage of programme expenditure 1991–92 0.447 56 0.8 1992–93 0.558 62 0.9 1993–94 0.654 67 0.98 1994–95 0.717 70 1.02 1995–96 1.222 73 1.67
1. Figures are provisional and subject to change.
2. Both BA fraud savings/programme expenditure figures exclude those attributable to local authorities.
3. Savings figures for 1996–97 are not yet available.