§ Mr. Rooker
This is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to my right hon. Friend.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Frank Field, dated 9 March 2000:The Secretary of State has asked me to respond to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what plans he has to improve the medical expertise of the fraud investigators in each of his Department's agencies which execute counter-fraud work.Department of Social Security fraud investigators are trained to a high standard, ensuring all aspects of investigation are carried out professionally.At present there is no specific training aimed at improving a fraud officer's medical expertise, neither are there any plans to provide any as fraud officers are not tasked with gathering medical information. Their role is to establish whether the customer's activities are consistent with the circumstances stated in their claim. If the claim involves medical decisions, the fraud officer's role is to establish whether the customer's current activities are consistent with the stated mobility, care needs or incapacity as documented in their claim. They do this by recording information gathered from observation of, and interviews with the customer. Photographic and video evidence is often gathered in these investigations.Fraud officers never take decisions on benefit entitlement. Their role is to gather evidence and pass it to the appropriate District Manager. They never make medical decisions and cannot influence the decision making process. The District Manager may choose to pass the case on to an independent "lay decision maker" who can seek medical evidence from a General Practitioner, consultant or hospital. They may also request examination by an Examining Medical Practitioner or seek advice from the provider of Medical Services to the Benefits Agency (Sema Group).I hope this is helpful.