§ Kali Mountford
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when she will publish the results of the recent benefit review of income support; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Denham
This Government take fraud against our social security system very seriously and are determined to reduce the level of fraud and abuse. Fraud is anti-social behaviour; assisting in the fight against fraud is an expression of responsible citizenship.
We have inherited a significant problem and this research underlines the need to review and evaluate existing measures. Work is in hand to re-examine the strategic objectives governing counter-fraud work throughout the Department. This will ensure that there is 595W coherence between counter-fraud objectives and other policy and operational strategic objectives, in particular those aimed at controlling loss of programme expenditure.
All plans for the future will be based on making sure that the social security system is based on honesty, fairness and responsibility. We will also move towards a more systematic process of assessing risks to ensure that resources are targeted for maximum effect.
The level of fraud and abuse represents a serious problem which we are determined to consider carefully and respond to fully.
In order to establish the size of the problem on an ongoing basis the Benefits Agency is undertaking a five-year programme of reviews. This programme covers all the major social security benefits to measure in a statistically valid way the level of incorrectness, including fraud within the benefit stream.
A review of income support was carried out through visits and interviews with a random sample of 4,350 customers in autumn 1996 when a review of their benefit entitlement was completed.
The results of this review show that the majority of customers—79 per cent.—are entitled to the benefit at the rate they are receiving.
However, fraud or a high suspicion of fraud was found in just over 11 per cent. of cases representing estimated annual potential expenditure losses of £1.77 billion on income support.
We will be hosting a fraud seminar in September. This will involve high-level representatives from both inside and outside of Government. Private sector expertise will be brought alongside those already involved to exchange and develop ideas and experience to ensure that we are tackling the problem in the most effective manner.