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1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Benefit Fraud

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Benefit Fraud on 19th June 1986.


Mr. Meadowcroft Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what were the number of fraudulent benefit claims in Leeds in the years 1979 to 1985; and what was the average amount of money involved in each claim;

(2) if he will state the number of fraudulent benefit claims as a proportion of total numbers of benefit claims, in the years 1979 to 1985;

(3) if he will publish the average amount involved in (a) fraudulent benefit claims in the years 1979 to 1985 and (b) recovered from fraudulent claimants; and what is the average period of time over which repayments are made.

Mr. Major The information requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Meadowcroft Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of his Department's staff based in Leeds - and what proportion of these are assigned to investigating fraudulent benefit claims.

Mr. Major On 1 June 1986 875.5 staff were employed at the six Leeds offices. The number of posts allocated to fraud work in these offices at that date was 27. The proportion of posts allocated to the investigation of fraudulent benefit claims as a percentage of total staff employed is just over 3 per cent.

In addition, the specialist claims control teams based in the north-east region of the Department's local office network will on occasion be involved in the investigation of fraudulent benefit claims in Leeds. These staff are not included in local office complements.

Mr. Meadowcroft Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will state how many fraudulent benefit claims resulted in prosecution in 1985; and what was the number of prosecutions as a proportion of the total number of cases discovered.

Mr. Major Six thousand, six hundred and seventy-six claimants were prosecuted by this Department for social security benefit fraud during 1985–86; this represents approximately 7 per cent. of those cases considered for legal proceedings.

Mr. Meadowcroft Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the number of staff employed by his Department to investigate fraudulent benefit claims, in the years 1979 to 1986.

Mr. Major I regret the information requested is not available for 1979. The following table sets out the number of staff allocated by the Department's complementing system to fraud work for the years 1980 to 1986, and also includes specialist claims control staff not included in local office complements.


Year | Number

1980-81 | 2,044

1981-82 | 1,945

1982-83 | 2,284

1983-84 | 2,216

1984-85 | 2,488

1985-86 | 2,804

1986-87 | *3,673

* Proposed


Mr. Meadowcroft Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the estimated cost of fraudulent benefit claims in the years 1979 to 1986.

Mr. Major No reliable estimate is available of the cost of social security benefit fraud.