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Social Security Benefits: Databases

Volume 488: debated on Friday 6 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) data matching and (b) data accuracy software his Department uses to ensure that databases used to support the benefit system are accurate. (251624)

[holding answer 29 January 2009]: Information Directorate utilises data internally transferred from benefit paying systems and a number of other sources. Those data sets are matched to highlight inconsistencies and anomalies. The software used for data matching is currently Excel, Access and SAS. Information Directorate also utilises the skills of its IT contractors (EDS) to undertake certain matching exercises on its behalf. The results of such matching exercises form the information basis for further investigation into the accuracy of claims on the benefit systems.

The Department's benefit systems have a number of internal control mechanisms and processes, and are in some cases self-validating. This ensures that, where possible, data fields cannot be populated with incorrect or anomalistic data. The Department also utilises audit techniques to assure the accuracy of its benefit paying systems.