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Fraud (Morecambe and Lunesdale)

Miss Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he has taken to reduce (a) benefit fraud and (b) housing benefit fraud in Morecambe and Lunesdale. [148965]

Mr. Rooker: After years of neglect, we are getting to grips with Social Security fraud. We are implementing a strategy to tighten up the system and make sure that from the very first claim, the right benefits are going to the right people at the right time. We have set ourselves firm targets to reduce the losses from fraud and error in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance by 25 per cent. by March 2004, and 50 per cent. by March 2006.

8 Feb 2001 : Column: 698W

We have saved more than £150 million over two years by cross-checking departmental records with information from other Government Departments. More than 22,000 people were sanctioned or prosecuted in 1999-2000, an increase of nearly 60 per cent. on the previous year. We published figures last November which showed that losses from fraud and error in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance had fallen for the first time, a saving of around £60 million.

We continue to invest to help local authorities root out Housing Benefit fraud. We have provided over £100 million since 1998 so that local authorities can implement the verification framework which protects the gateway to benefit by setting out minimum standards for collecting evidence before claims are paid. Over 350 councils are now using the Royal Mail scheme to stop benefit cheques being redirected from the address they have been claimed for.

Our £2 million programme to make better use of IT has given 404 local authorities on-line access to essential benefit information held on departmental systems, reducing the scope for fraud and error. We are now building on this through the integrated inquiry service, which will give authorities access to further information to help combat fraud, including the Department's database of National Insurance numbers. Our new anti-fraud incentive scheme is being phased in from April and will make the gateway to Housing Benefit more secure, putting the focus on prevention as well as detection. The new scheme sets out the anti-fraud activities we expect local authorities to undertake, and it introduces new financial rewards for authorities that act to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.

These are just some of the measures that have already started to make a significant reduction in fraud and error in areas such as Morecambe and Lunesdale. These will be further strengthened by the new measures proposed in the Social Security Fraud Bill currently before Parliament.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people (a) are eligible to claim and (b) claim the Minimum Income Guarantee in each parliamentary constituency in Scotland. [149591]

Mr. Rooker: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

Income Support (MIG) pensioner cases(44) by Scottish parliamentary constituency, as at August 2000
Thousand

Parliamentary constituencyNumber of cases
Aberdeen Central2.2
Aberdeen North1.7
Aberdeen South1.8
Airdrie and Shotts2.4
Angus2.5
Argyll and Bute2.4
Ayr2.4
Banff and Buchan2.3
Caithness Sunderland and Easter Ross1.6
Carrick Cumnock and Doon Valley2.8
Central Fife2.1
Clydebank and Milngavie2.4
Clydesbank2.9
Coatbridge and Chryston3.0
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth1.9
Cunninghame North2.5
Cunninghame South2.0
Dumbarton2.6
Dumfries2.3
Dundee East3.4
Dundee West2.9
Dunfermline East1.9
Dunfermline West1.3
East Kilbride1.8
East Lothian2.0
Eastwood1.5
Edinburgh Central2.0
Edinburgh East and Musselburgh2.7
Edinburgh North and Leigh2.1
Edinburgh Pentlands1.5
Edinburgh South2.3
Edinburgh West1.4
Falkirk East2.3
Falkirk West2.6
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale2.4
Glasgow Anniesland3.7
Glasgow Baillieston3.2
Glasgow Cathcart2.5
Glasgow Govan3.0
Glasgow Kelvin2.9
Glasgow Maryhill4.4
Glasgow Pollok3.4
Glasgow Rutherglen3.0
Glasgow Shettleston4.7
Glasgow Springburn4.4
Gordon1.2
Greenock and Inverclyde2.6
Hamilton North and Bellshill2.3
Hamilton South2.4
Inverness East Nairn and Lochaber2.1
Kilmarnock and Loudoun3.2
Kirkcaldy2.0
Linlithgow2.0
Livingston2.2
Midlothian1.5
Moray2.0
Motherwell and Wishaw3.0
North East Fife1.5
North Tayside2.0
Ochil1.6
Orkney and Shetland1.0
Paisley North2.7
Paisley South2.7
Perth2.1
Ross Skye and Inverness West2.4
Roxburgh and Berwickshire1.8
Stirling1.8
Strathkelvin and Bearsden2.0
Tweeddale Ettrick and Lauderdale1.5
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine1.3
West Renfrewshire1.9
Western Isles1.7

(44) MIG Pensioners are defined where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 or over.

Notes:

1. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred and are expressed in thousands.

3. Cases are allocated to each parliamentary constituency by matching the postcode against the 2000 version 1 ONS Postcode Directory.

4. Constituency information represents constituency boundaries as at May 1997. Numbers of people eligible to claim Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) are not available. It is not possible to produce reliable estimates for different parts of Great Britain.

Source:

Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, August 2000


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State Pension

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer of increasing the basic state pension to £92 for a single person and £138 for a couple, taking into account (a) savings in regard to (i) the minimum income guarantee and (ii) other benefits payable to pensioners and (b) the consequent increases in receipts of tax revenue. [147606]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 6 February 2001]: The information is in the table.

Cost of increasing the basic state pension to £92 for a single person and £138 for a couple
Year 2001-02

£ billion
Gross total8.4
Minimum Income Guarantee savings1.8
Other income related benefit savings1
Total income related benefit savings0.8
Tax yield0.8
Total net cost5.8

Notes:

1. All costs are given in £ billion to the nearest £100 million.

2. Gross costs are estimated by the Government Actuary's Department.

3. Income related benefits savings are estimated using the Policy Simulation Model.

4. The tax effects are estimated by the Inland Revenue.

5. Costs are given excluding widows and bereavement benefits whose rates are linked by law to the rate of basic Retirement Pension. Including them adds £200 million to the net costs.


Press Releases

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many press releases were issued by his Department in the financial years (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99 and (d) 1999-2000; how many have been issued in the current financial year; and what his estimate is of the total number for the current financial year. [149246]

Mr. Rooker: The information is in the table.

1997199819992000
DSS291311270411
Benefits Agency (BA)604248--
Contributions Agency (CA)50103--
Child Support Agency (CSA)104----

Notes:

1. The information given for the year 2000 includes all Press Releases issued on behalf of the Department and its agencies.

2. The production of Press Releases runs from January to December. To date we have issued 55 in the year 2001. It is not possible to estimate the number we will issue for the whole year.

3. In April 2000 the BA and CSA Press Offices merged with the DSS team and consequently all Press Releases are now categorised as DSS.