Headlines: February 14th, 2000

The Department of Social Security has announced a series of rewards and punishments for local authorities, whose job it is to weed out benefit fraud.Legislation will be changed to introduce financial rewards for authorities who successfully prosecute fraudsters and those which institute new measures to stop fraud occurring in the first place.

Each local authority will be set an individual target for the amount of fraud detected. The scheme is designed to impose financial rewards or penalties on performance against these targets.

Authorities can earn additional subsidy by exceeding their target. If they fail to meet at least 75% of their target a financial penalty is imposed. The new framework will be in place from April 2001.

The news follows a number of newspaper reports of councillors involved in benefit fraud, and has left Local Government Association (LGA)chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham urging all authorities to have secure anti-fraud measures in place.

The LGA has backed the Government’s anti-fraud agenda.