§ Mr. Gordon Marsden
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what estimate his Department has made of the total level of fraud in the payment of incapacity benefit; 
(2) how much fraud has been detected in the payment of incapacity benefit in each of the last three years. 
§ Mr. Denham
Tackling fraud and abuse is a top priority for the Government. Operational issues are the responsibility of Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to my hon. Friend.391W
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Gordon Marsden, dated 28 October 1998:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to respond to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the total level of fraud in the payment of Incapacity Benefit (IB) and how much fraud has been detected in the payment of IB in each of the last three years.The information is not available in the format requested. The Benefits Agency's (BA's) Benefit Review Programme aims to estimate how much benefit is being paid incorrectly, including fraud and establish causes of incorrect payments. To date Benefit Reviews have been carried out on Income Support (twice), Unemployment Benefit, Housing Benefit (twice), Retirement Pension, Invalid Care Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Child Benefit/Child Benefit (Lone Parent), but not on IB. Consequently, no formal assessment of the level of fraud in IB is currently available.Information about the amount of fraud detected in individual benefits has only been separately collected since April 1997. In 1997–98 the BA saved a total of £1,918 million as a result of anti-fraud activity. Savings to IB comprised £7.4 million (or 0.4%) of this total figure.However, there is a difference in the level of fraud detected by investigative work and the level of fraud estimated by the Benefit Review programme. Benefit Reviews estimate the total amount of incorrectness, including fraud, within a particular benefit. A random, but statistically valid, sample of customers is selected and a review of their circumstances is carried out. Therefore, whilst savings figures from investigations demonstrate what fraud has actually been detected, Benefit Reviews estimate the levels of fraud and incorrectness in the benefits reviewed.The BA is undertaking a range of projects and initiatives all of which are designed to achieve a sustained reduction in the level of fraud across the benefit system. The Government's recent Green Paper "Beating Fraud is Everyone's Business: Securing the Future" sets out a comprehensive strategy for tackling fraud in the wider context of welfare reform.I hope you find this reply helpful.
§ Angela Eagle
The information is not available in the form requested. However, at the end of June 1998, the number of people waiting to attend an Incapacity Benefit Appeal Tribunal lodged with the Birmingham local office of The Independent Tribunal Service, totalled 2,498. Of these, 213 have been waiting less than one month, 870 between one and three months, 540 between three and six months and 875 over six months.
Source:Appeals—Data supplied by Analytical Services Division (ASD) from the Independent Tribunal Service Generic Appeals Processing System.