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Access to Work Programme: Fraud

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the (a) amount and (b) number of cases of fraud in the access to work scheme in the last 12 months; and what sanctions there are against people who commit such fraud. (198255)

[holding answer 1 April 2008]: The level of undetected fraud in Access to Work funding is not separately estimated.

From 1 April 2007 to 28 March 2008 Access to Work provided grants totalling £62 million to help around 40,000 people to keep or get work. In the same period 28 Access to Work cases were investigated because of potential fraudulent claims. The investigation identified a total loss of £190,573. Action taken resulted in savings of £123,605. Court proceedings were taken in three cases where fraudulent claims to Access to Work funds were identified.

Any cases of deliberate fraud will be prosecuted for theft, and courts may consider the imposition of a fine or custodial sentence as well as ordering recovery of amounts overpaid. The Department can cease to deal with an organisation if it is felt that by doing so it would eliminate an unacceptable risk to public funds.

Individuals may continue to receive support through the programme as long as they satisfy the eligibility criteria and comply with the terms under which their support was approved.