§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many people who have been convicted of social security fraud in each of the past five years had a previous conviction for social security fraud; 47W
(2) how many people have been (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted of social security fraud in each of the last five years. 
§ Mr. Rooker
The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows:
Sanctions for benefit fraud Year Prosecutions Cautions and penalties as an alternative to prosecution Total 1995–96 10,677 — 10,677 1996–97 12,863 — 12,863 1997–98 12,009 — 12,009 1998–99 11,185 2,835 14,020 1999–2000 10,087 10,292 20,379
The figures do not include sanctions for benefit fraud by authorities administering Housing and Council Tax benefits. Penalties as an alternative to prosecution were introduced by the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act with effect from December 1998.
Information on the number of prosecutions resulting in convictions is currently only available in respect of Benefit Fraud Investigation Service prosecutions in the years 1997–98 and 1998–99—in both years, 99 per cent. of such prosecutions were successful.
The proportion of prosecutions resulting in custodial sentence has increased from 3.9 per cent. in 1996–97 to 5.5 per cent. in 1999–2000.
Our research suggests that approximately 5 per cent. of prosecutions involve a person with a previous conviction for benefit fraud. We are putting in place mechanisms to identify second and further convictions.