Detecting, Prosecuting and Punishing Benefit Fraud: The Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997

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Social security fraud is currently estimated at £7 billion per year out of an annual socialsecurity budget of £90 billion. The social security system is hugely bureaucratic andadministrative, leaving it wide open to abuse. Obviously there are individuals keen toexploit such vulnerability, but many innocent claimants also fall foul of its rules, quiteinadvertently. In 1997, the Conservative government declared that its anti-fraudinitiatives would save taxpayers £7 billion over the next three years.2 The main plankin the Conservatives’ anti-fraud strategy, which has now been implemented by theLabour Government, was the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997,designed to make the detection, prosecution and punishment of benefit fraud moreeffective.3 The aim of this note is to examine the legislation previously used in thebattle against benefit fraud, to identify the rationale for legislative change, and toanalyse the problems which arise from this new legislative position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-270
JournalModern Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1999

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Beating Fraud is Everyone’s Business: Security the Future Cm 4012 (1998)
Social Security
Committee, Third Report: Housing Benefit Fraud, 1995–96, HC 90-I and HC 90-II:
Green Paper: New Ambitions for Our Country – A New Contract for
Welfare, Cm 3805, (1998)
K. Rowlingson et al (eds), Social Security Fraud: The Role of Penalties DSS Research Report No 64
(London: Stationery Office, 1997).
Social Security Committee, Fourth Report: Disability Living Allowance, HC 641 (1998).
Uglow, Criminal Justice (London: Sweet and Maxwell, 1995)
Ian Dunbar and Anthony Langdon, Tough Justice: Sentencing and Penal Policies in the 1990s
(London: Blackstone Press Ltd, 1998).
A. Ogus, E. Barendt and N. Wikeley, The Law of Social Security (London: Butterworths, 1995)
Hartley Dean and Peter Taylor-Gooby, Dependency Culture: The Explosion of a Myth (London:
Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992)


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