HC Deb 23 May 2002 vol 386 cc541-2W
Mr. Frank Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of the staff employed undertaking specific work on counter fraud policy issues on 1 April had less than(a) six months, (b) 12 months, (c) two years, (d) three years, (e) four years and (f) more than four years experience of working in this specific area. [54717]

Malcolm Wicks

The overall aim of the Department's anti-fraud strategy is to have a benefit system which is secure from first claim to final payment.

The implementation of this strategy means that an anti-fraud focus is integral to the work of all staff in the Department, as is dealing with the wider agenda of error and incorrectness in benefit payments.

The Fraud Strategy Unit (FSU) manages the setting and dissemination of fraud policy for the Department's Agencies and has a central role in undertaking specific work on counter-fraud policy issues. The information requested, in respect of FSU staff, is in the table.

FSU staff's length of experience of working on counter-fraud policy issues as at 1 April 2002
Less than 6 months 6 to 12 months 1 to 2 years 2 to 3 years 3 to 4 years More than 4 years
19 19 12 18 8 8

The staff in Fraud Strategy Unit bring with them a wide range of skills and experience, notably in counter-fraud operational work, social security administration, legislation and programme/budget management. Many staff in the unit have had several years' experience in social security administration and dealing with customers, where countering fraud is the concern of all staff.

Mr. Frank Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many prosecutions for fraud involving housing or council tax benefit were undertaken by local authorities in(a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000, (d) 2000–01 and (e) between 1 January and 31 December 2001. [54725]

Malcolm Wicks

The latest information available on the number of prosecutions for fraud undertaken by local authorities is in the table.

Local authority investigations
Prosecutions Cautions and penalties as an alternative to prosecution Total
1997–98 700 700
1998–99 800 800
1999–2000 860 390 1,250
2000–01 1,100 550 1,650


1. Figures are taken from local authority management information returns. It is possible that there could be some double counting with Benefits Agency data if there were cases which involved a joint prosecution.

2. Information is not available for all 408 local authorities. The total for Great Britain includes estimates for local authorities that have not responded. These estimates are based on historical and regional data. This type of estimate is standard practice in reporting totals where there have been non-respondents. The figures for financial years 1997–98 to 2000–01 have been rounded to two significant figures.

3. Administrative penalties, as an alternative to prosecution, were introduced by the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act (1997) with effect from December 1998.

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