§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is her estimate of the cost of theft and fraud to(a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non departmental public bodies, in (i) 1995–96, (ii) 1996–97 and (iii)1997–98 to date. 
§ Mr. Denham
The estimated cost of theft and detected internal fraud within the Department of Social Security for the years 1995–96 and 1996–97 is shown in the table. It is not yet possible to provide costing figures for the year 1997–98.
£000 Agencies 1995–96 1996–97 BA 1,190 693 CSA 27 5 CA 23 22 WPA 1 0 ITSA 6 33 HQ 16 30 Department total 1,263 783
The estimated cost figures for non-departmental public bodies for 1995–96 is £300 and nil cost for 1996–97.
The previous administration estimated the level of benefit fraud at around £4 billion a year. The Government are currently examining the estimate of fraud in the light of further analysis of the findings of the ongoing programme of benefit reviews.