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Benefits (Fraud And Abuse)

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further action he is taking against social security fraud and abuse.Mr. Prentice: Efforts to control fraud and abuse have been inadequate for several years. Excellent work has been done by the staff working on these problems, but their numbers are insufficient. The main problems are people who work but purport to be unemployed, people who avoid taking work or mis-state their assets, income or family circumstances, and people who evade their responsibilities for maintaining their wives and children. We have insisted that the prevention and detection of fraud and abuse should be given higher priority, and despite our general policy of reducing staff numbers we are providing the extra staff needed to boost prevention and detection efforts. Another 1,050—450 this financial year and 600 next—are being deployed on this work. They will include a further 470 staff, doubling the existing number, to work on unemployment review in relation to supplementary benefit claims, and a further 60 who will work on unemployment benefit claims in co-operation with the Department of Employment. There will be an extra 170 liable relative officers and a further 270 fraud specialists. Special arrangements have been made to monitor the results of this extra effort. We estimate that the savings from it in 1980–81 may total £50 million.