§ Mr. Rooker
After years of neglect, we are getting to grips with Social Security fraud. We have set ourselves firm targets to reduce the losses from fraud and error in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance by 25 per cent. by March 2004, and 50 per cent. by March 2006.
We are implementing a strategy to tighten up the system and make sure that, from the very first claim, the right benefits are going to the right people at the right time. For example, we have implemented tighter checks on new Income Support claimants, and given local authorities an additional £100 million to help them make tougher identity checks on claimants before payments are made. We are also cross-checking DSS records with information from other Government Departments and have allowed all local councils to have access to electronic data from the Benefits Agency.
These are just some of the measures that have already started to make a significant reduction in fraud and error. These will be further strengthened by the new measures proposed in the Fraud Bill currently before Parliament.
§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if local authority employees in charge of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit fraud investigations may investigate cases where there is suspicion of related Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance fraud. 84W
§ Mr. Rooker
We are working in partnership with local authorities in the prevention, detection and deterrence of benefit fraud. Suspected fraud cases in which Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit and Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance are in payment are investigated by whichever investigator, from the Department or the Local Authority, first discovers the fraud.