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Benefit Fraud/Error

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 859–60 ref 39869, how many cases of benefit fraud and claimant error there were in each of the relevant benefits in each year since 1995; [43819]

Malcolm Wicks: It is not possible to provide a breakdown of how many cases of benefit fraud and claimant error there were in each of the relevant benefits in each year since 1995. However, since 1999, fraud investigators have recorded the number of cases where benefit ceases, or a change in benefit occurs, following an investigation. These figures include both fraud and customer error cases (as well as a very small number of cases where an underpayment is discovered) but it is not possible to provide a breakdown. The figures, which cover investigations across all benefits administered by the Department, are in the table.

Number of cases where benefit rate changes following action by a fraud investigator


Comparable figures are not available before 1999.

Separately, by means of the continuous Area Benefit Review/Quality Support Team exercise, the Department is able to provide estimates of the total number of cases of fraud, customer error and official error at any one time in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance. Figures are given in the table below. There is a degree of overlap inherent in the sampling process between the estimates of numbers of customer error and official error in these figures, caused in part by the measurement methodology. These figures therefore cannot be added together, as the resulting figure would include double counting. This

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overlap had no impact on the final published results for the estimated overall value of monetary loss as analysts made compensatory adjustments, reducing the figures by around 1 per cent. of expenditure.

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The average levels of monetary loss in cases of customer and official error are lower than those in fraud cases, as shown in the table.

Estimate of number of cases of fraud and error and average weekly incorrectness in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance

1999–2000 DataFraudAverage value of incorrectness per week £Customer errorAverage value of incorrectness per week £Official errorAverage value of incorrectness per week £
Income Support216,00051301,00013493,00018
Jobseeker's Allowance120,0004432,00017125,00027
2000–2001 Data
Income Support204,00055296,00014476,00017
Jobseeker's Allowance86,0004720,0001586,00025


1. The average values represent the average weekly value of fraud or error (overpayment and underpayment) for cases where there is fraud or error (not average error per case on the live load).

2. Figures are presented as weekly values of incorrectness because the total value of an error over all the weeks it lasted is not available.

3. The figures are estimates based on samples, and as such are subject to sampling error; none of the changes between 1999–2000 and 2000–01 are statistically significant.

4. The figures for fraud, customer error and official error cannot be added together. They apply to different groups of cases, and in the case of official error, there is overlap with customer error in the definition of error.


Area Benefit Review/Quality Support Team.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Government have spent on advertising (a) the Targeting Fraud Hotline and (b) other campaigns to report benefit fraud in each of the last 10 years. [53749]

Malcolm Wicks: There is no Targeting Fraud Hotline. The information available on the amount spent on advertising the National Benefit Fraud Hotline is in the table.


2002–030 to date

The Targeting Fraud campaign is part of our long-term strategy to reinforce our message that benefit fraud is wrong, unfair and will not be tolerated. Expenditure on the pilot phase of the campaign was £2.2 million spanning the financial years 1999–2000 and 2000–01. The success of the pilot campaign led to the launch of the national Targeting Fraud campaign. The initial spell of advertising in March 2001 cost £4.6 million and £8.9 million was spent on the campaign running from September 2001 to March 2002.

Information is not available on the amount spent on other advertising campaigns prior to 1997.

Departmental Helplines

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the targets for each of his Department's telephone helplines, with performance figures for each helpline for the last year for which figures are available. [56416]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The table shows the performance of the Department's telephone helplines against their internal performance targets for the last year for which figures are available (to March 2002 except where otherwise indicated).

Most lines are expected to answer a set percentage of calls within a specified number of seconds and this is the measure given in the table; but some operate different targets and, where applicable, this is shown in the notes.

Target Performance
Telephone helplinesPercentage callsSecondsPercentage
Jobcentre Plus Chief Executive's helpline (formerly BA and ES CE helplines)10020100
Job Seeker Direct (formerly ES Direct)952086.7
CSA National Enquiry Line and Client Helplines85(34)92.4
National Benefit Fraud Hotline99(36)96
Disability Living Allowance Customer Care helpline903018
Retirement Pensions Teleclaim Line903057
Pensions Direct903058
Customer Liaison Team (formerly Overseas Customer Service helpline)953091
MIG (Minimum Income Guarantee) Claimline903098
Retirement Pension Forecasting and Advice (RPFA)903066
Public Enquiry Office65(37)60
Employer Direct
Child Benefit Enquiry Line1005 rings(40)100
Benefit Enquiry Line (BEL)
Ineffective20 max.(42)12.8
New Deal Information Line85(34),(43)89.1
New Deal for Disabled People85(34),(43)79
New Deal for Lone Parents85(34),(43)87.9
The Publicity Register85(34),(43)96.1
Inherited SERPS Enquiry Line (BroadSystems)(44) 85(34),(43)93.0
Pensioner Guide Orderline85(34),(43)95.2
Winter fuel Helpline85(34),(43)90.1
Pensions Information Line85(34),(43)(38)
Welfare Reform Orderline85(34),(43)98.2

(34) 85 per cent. of calls to be answered first time ie where the customer gets through on the first attempt without having to ring back again.

(35) No more than 20 per cent. of calls to be abandoned (abandoned calls are those where the customer hangs up before getting a reply).

(36) 99 per cent. of calls offered (that is those reaching the switchboard) are to be answered within three seconds. A facility administered by an outside organisation is available to take overflow calls.

(37) 65 per cent. of all calls are to be answered.

(38) These are new services for which a full year's data are not yet available.

(39) No more than 5 per cent. of calls are to be abandoned after 20 seconds.

(40) Calls automatically answered after three rings.

(41) To be answered.

(42) No more than 80 per cent. of calls should be ineffective (ineffective calls are those that receive the engaged tone, receive a network message from BT or are abandoned).

(43) These centres are administered by outside organisations. In addition to the numbers of calls answered first time, they have to be answered within an average of 10 seconds.

(44) Line outsourced to another provider from 7 March 2002.

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