§ Harry Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in relation to data matching exercises undertaken by the Audit Commission and local authorities, how many individuals' personal data have been processed in data matching exercises in connection with fraud; how many cases have been identified as part of that data matching exercise as being possible cases of fraud requiring further investigation; how many cases, after investigation, were deemed likely to be fraudulent; how many cases were prosecuted; what the total cost were of data matching exercises, including staff and computer costs; and what the estimated total savings to the public purse are and what multiplier was used in this calculation. 
§ Mr. Leslie
I have been asked to reply.
The following information is taken from the Audit Commission's National Fraud Initiative (NFI) 2000. All data collection and matching is undertaken in accordance 1027W with the Code of Data Matching, agreed between the Audit Commission and the Information Commissioner. Because data for matching is drawn from a wide range of data sources, with individuals' details potentially appearing on a number of data submissions, it is not possible to identify the number of individuals for whom data has been collected. However, in its report on the 2000 NFI, the Commission reported that over 14 million records were matched. The Commission's role is to identify matches and report these back to the relevant authorities for further investigation. It is for individual authorities to identify potentially fraudulent matches and to investigate these further, and, if appropriate, prosecute. The Commission does not have details of how many cases fall into these categories. The cost of the Audit Commission's role in NFI 2000 was some £600,000, including staff costs and computer costs. The Commission does not have information on the costs incurred by individual authorities in investigating potentially fraudulent matches. The Commission does not seek to estimate the potential savings arising from NFI. However, in its report on the 2000 NFI, the Commission reported that the value of detected fraud and overpayment, up to the date of publication, was £50 million, an increase of 19 per cent. over the previous NFI undertaken in 1998.