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Travel Warrants (Fraud)

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will cease the practice of job centres writing their clients’ name and national insurance number on warrants issued to them for travel in order to reduce opportunities for identity theft. (98375)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Gentleman with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking if he will cease the practice of jobcentres writing their client’s name and national insurance number on warrants issued to them for travel in order to reduce opportunities for identity theft. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Jobcentre Plus’s preferred method of dealing with payment of travel expenses is reimbursement of the travel expenses by either cash or cheque, but where the customer is unable to meet the initial travelling expense a travel warrant can be issued in advance.

When issuing travel warrants, we are not required to enter a National Insurance number and, as an interim measure, a communication will be issued to all staff reminding them to use the customer’s name only.

I share your concern that our processes should protect both customers and the public purse. I have therefore asked my Jobcentre Plus Products and Services Management Division to review our use of National Insurance numbers where there is potential risk of aiding identity fraud.

I hope this is helpful.