§ Mr. Rooney
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the information-gathering powers contained in the Social Security Fraud Act 2001 will be brought into effect. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
The Social Security Fraud Act contains important new powers for the Department and local authorities to get information from organisations such as banks and utility companies to help in the fight against benefit fraud. These new powers come into effect from today and a revised Code of Practice has been laid before Parliament.710W
Further sections of the Fraud Act are also brought into effect from today. These include new powers for the Department and local authorities to offer financial penalties to benefit offenders, on behalf of each other, as an alternative to prosecution, rather than each having to offer a separate penalty as was previously the case; and for the Department and local authorities to offer financial penalties to employers who collude with their staff in the commission of benefit offences, again as an alternative to prosecution.
These new measures should send out a strong message to all benefit cheats and would-be cheats, and those who collude with them, that we are on to them. From today, the odds on getting away with it have lengthened.