§ Mr. Timms
The administration of benefits is the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency, Peter Mathison. I have asked him to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mrs. Jacqui Lait, dated 15 February 1999:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many disability benefits claimants have had their benefits withdrawn by the Benefits Agency (BA) because they have been found to be smuggling or bootlegging tobacco and alcohol; and how much money was saved in 1997–98.The information is not available in the format requested because it is not possible to identify how many claimants of any particular benefit have had their benefit or benefits stopped or withdrawn specifically because of bootlegging or smuggling activities, and how much money was saved in such cases.However I can tell you that we have specific activity going on in the Channel area. David Riggs wrote to you on my behalf on 25 March 1998, following an earlier Parliamentary Question you tabled, and let you know about the BA Ports project. The Ports Project achieved savings of £1.24m in the year 1997/98 and its success led to our decision in April 1998 to create a separate unit to carry on with the work. In the current year to date, this team known as Port Fraud Investigation Team, has achieved savings of £1.49m.I hope you find this reply helpful.