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Tough, wide ranging new measures to step up the fight against benefit fraud have been promised by social security s...
Tough, wide ranging new measures to step up the fight against benefit fraud have been promised by social security secretary Peter Lilley.

The aim is to ensure fraud investigators have the tools they need to catch those who cheat the benefit system and to make fraudsters pay for their crimes. New measures will ensure that the worst-performing local authorities reach the standards of the best in meeting their obligation to tackle benefit fraud.

The measures include:

-- removal of unnecessary barriers to comparing information held on different databases for the purposes of preventing, detecting and investigating benefit fraud

-- setting-up an inspectorate to monitor anti-fraud work in housing and council tax benefits by local authorities

-- powers to make directions to local authorities to improve their performance in tackling housing benefit fraud

-- new penalties for claimants who give false information to get benefit

-- ensuring those who conceal information, as well as those who make false statements, can be effectively prosecuted

-- making it easier to prosecute people who make fraudulent attempts to get a national insurance number

Commenting on these promises, Mr Lilley said: 'Benefit fraud is a particularly selfish crime. It robs the taxpayer of around £3bn a year. This is the equivalent of building 20 major teaching hospitals each year.

'We are determined to crack down on housing benefit and council tax benefit fraud which account for one quarter of all benefit fraud. These new measures will help us to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters.'

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