§ Mr. Field
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by what authority persons are able to hold, as a pledge for a debt, social security order books to which they have no entitlement; if he will make a statement explaining what he is doing to prevent such practices; and what proportion of fraud officers' time is taken up in following up frauds by third parties resulting from these practices.
§ Mr. Prentice
There is no authority for any persons to hold social security order books to which they have no entitlement as a security for debt; indeed, anyone who does so renders himself liable to prosecution. A prominent warning to this effect is shown on every order book issued by the Department. Officials of the Department will investigate any allegation about such activities, and I urge a claimant who is in difficulties, and who has as a result been pressed to give up his book in this way, to get in touch with his local office for help.
Information about the amount of time spent on investigating this kind of offence is not available.