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Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 16 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much and what proportion of known fraud debt stock was fraud debt her Department recovered in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. (316098)

The following table provides data on the value of fraud classified debt recoveries and the proportion of those recoveries against the fraud debt stock. The information is only available from 2005-06.

Fraud classified debt recoveries (£ million)

Proportion of recoveries against Fraud Debt Stock (percentage)














Shared Services Debt Manager via Business Objects computer system. This is based on available Management Information, and does not form Official Statistics.

Recoveries are now at an all time high. Since 2005-06, the Department has increased overall recoveries from £180 million per year to over £280 million.

The NAO recognised our improved performance in its report ‘Department for Work and Pensions, Management of Benefit Overpayment Debt’, May 2009.

As a result of the Department’s Debt Management’s strategy a greater proportion of outstanding fraud debts are being actively managed each year. Currently, for 90 per cent. of customers with fraud debts, repayment is either being made, being negotiated, or suspended due to inability to repay, e.g. in prison.

We always pursue repayment. For income related benefits overpayment recovery is subject, by legislation, to a maximum rate of recovery. For other benefits the maximum deduction rate is set administratively at one third of the personal rate of the benefit or pension concerned. We will continue to recover this money over the coming years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what her latest estimate is of the monetary value of benefit fraud committed by people living outside the UK; and if she will make a statement. (316398)

[holding answer 8 March 2010]: The amount wrongly paid to customers who are normally resident in United Kingdom but claimed benefits while abroad for longer than the rules allow is available in table 6.1 in the National Statistics report “Fraud and Error in the Benefits System: April 2008 to March 2009” a copy of which is available in the Library. The report can also be accessed online at:

To help us reduce this type of fraud we are increasing the number of countries with which we have arrangements for closer working and data sharing.

We are also reminding people in the latest Targeting Fraud campaign and in leaflets of their responsibility to tell us if they are going abroad.