§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of(a) the cost of benefit fraud in the last financial year and (b) the surplus on unclaimed benefits in the last financial year. 
§ Mr. Rooker
Previous estimates have shown that £2 billion a year has definitely been lost through fraud. A further £3 billion may have been lost in cases where fraud is strongly suspected and a further £2 billion where there is some suspicion of fraud.
We are now measuring the level of fraud and error in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance, the two most vulnerable benefits, by thoroughly investigating a monthly random sample of cases in each Benefit Agency area. Staff error is measured separately by a special team within the Benefits Agency. The latest period for which figures are available is the 12 months ending September 1998 where the level of fraud and error in these benefits was £1.4 billion or 9 per cent. of the total benefit paid.
The latest figures available show the amount left unclaimed in Income Related benefits was between £1,580 million and £4,110 million in 1997–98.