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Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what her latest estimate is of the monetary value of benefits paid fraudulently to prisoners in each of the last five years. (316399)

Fraud can occur when a person is sent to prison and they do not notify the Department. If this is the case there can be a short delay before benefit payments are stopped.

The Department matches its data with that held by the Ministry of Justice to identify prisoners who may still be in receipt of benefit. This data match now takes place weekly instead of four-weekly and we are detecting prisoner fraud more quickly than ever before, thus reducing the size of any overpayments.

Over the last five years this type of fraud has only arisen in income support. Fraudulent overpayments to prisoners have remained consistently low accounting for no more than an estimated 0.1 per cent of income support benefit expenditure.

The available information is in the table.

Estimated overpayments due to fraud by prisoners in each of the last five years

Amount of income support overpaid1 (£ million)











1 Estimates of customer fraud committed by prisoners are collated and published only for income support, jobseeker's allowance and pension credit. The levels for jobseeker's allowance and pension credit were £0 million in each of the last five years. 2 Improvements to the methodology were introduced in 2005-06 which created a discontinuity between the estimates up to 2004-05 and from 2005-06 onwards. Therefore comparisons over time should be made with caution. Source: Published National Statistics Reports—Fraud and Error in the Benefit System.