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Work and Pensions

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2009

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of potential fraud were investigated where the Department considered there to be a high probability of prosecution in each of the last five years for which information is available; how many cases of potential fraud were taken to court; and how many cases achieved a conviction.

[Official Report, 21 May 2009, Vol. 492, c. 1526W.]

Letter of correction from Jim Knight:

An error has been identified in the written answer given to the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) on 21 May 2009.

In the original second table, the figure given for the number of prosecutions for housing benefit fraud in 2005-06 was incorrectly cited as 6,041. The revised answer also contains an additional footnote relating to housing benefit.

The correct answer should have been: (244731)

The available information for DWP administered benefits is in the following table.

Number of cases referred for prosecution

Number prosecuted

Number of convictions

Number of cases taken to court that accepted an alternative sanction

2003-04

10,048

10,358

9,027

n/a

2004-05

10,915

10,295

9,219

261

2005-06

9,814

10,262

8,740

170

2006-07

10,166

8,964

6,861

206

2007-08

10,288

10,274

7,745

278

n/a = Not available

Notes:

1. All cases for criminal investigation are taken forward as having the potential to result in prosecution; alternative sanctions of caution and administrative penalty are only offered on the basis that, if refused, prosecution remains an option for the Department. Decisions on whether a sanction and which type is appropriate are, rightly, only made when an investigation has been completed.

2. The number of cases prosecuted each year may exceed the number of cases referred for prosecution due to the length of time that can occur between referral and an available court date.

Sources:

1. Prosecution and conviction data for England and Wales from DWP/DH Legal Group

2. Number of cases taken to court that accepted an alternative sanction (England and Wales only) from DWP/DH Legal Group

3. Prosecution and conviction data for Scotland from FIBS and FRAIMS

4. Number of cased referred for prosecution, administrative penalties and cautions data from FIBS and FRAIMS

Additionally figures for housing benefit are as follows:

Prosecutions

Convictions

2003-04

4,601

3,747

2004-05

5,544

4,688

2005-06

7,717

6,234

2006-07

6,023

5,860

2007-08

6,611

6,493

Notes:

1. The decision to prosecute is taken by the appropriate local authority.

2. Figures from HOBOD are subject to revision when new or revised data are received from local authorities and uploaded by the Department.

Source:

Housing Benefits Operational Database (HOBOD) using local authority housing benefit administrative returns