To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much money the Government are allocating to the Benefits Fraud Inspectorate; and how much money she estimates will be saved through tighter surveillance of benefit fraud. 
The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI) will play a vital role in driving up operational standards to maximise counter-fraud performance and minimise the risk of fraud throughout the Social Security system. This will be achieved by forward looking inspection reports with recommendations on how performance can be improved and by identifying and encouraging good practice.Under the spending plans of the previous Government, BFI was allocated an annual running costs budget of £2 million for 1997–98. We are now considering whether this is adequate for the BFI to carry out an effective inspection programme for local authorities and DSS Agencies.It is not possible to quantify precisely the impact of more secure systems and improvements in standards of counter-fraud activity in preventing and detecting fraud. Much will depend on the nature of the problems identified by the BFI inspections. We expect BFI, along with a range of other work, to deliver in due course permanent reductions in the amount lost to benefit fraud, although it may not be possible to isolate completely the effects of each initiative.