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The Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015

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This is the original version (as it was originally made).

Investigation and prosecution of offences

Powers to require information relating to investigations

112.  In section 103B of the Administration Act (power to require information), in subsection (2)—

(a)after paragraph (i) (but before the final “and”) insert—

(ia)a person of a prescribed description;;

(b)in paragraph (j), for “(i)” substitute “(ia)”.

Time limits for legal proceedings

113.  In section 110 of the Administration Act (legal proceedings), in subsection (2)—

(a)in paragraph (a), for “other than an offence relating to housing benefit” substitute “(other than proceedings to which paragraph (b) applies)”;

(b)in paragraph (b), after “proceedings” insert “brought by the Department of Finance and Personnel or the Housing Executive”.

Prosecution powers of the Housing Executive

114.—(1) The Administration Act is amended as follows.

(2) After section 110 insert—

Housing Executive powers to prosecute housing benefit fraud

110ZA.(1) The Housing Executive may not bring proceedings against a person for a benefit offence relating to housing benefit unless—

(a)the Housing Executive has already started an investigation in relation to that person in respect of the offence,

(b)the proceedings arise in prescribed circumstances or are of a prescribed description, or

(c)the Department has directed that the Housing Executive may bring the proceedings.

(2) The Department may direct that in prescribed circumstances the Housing Executive may not bring proceedings by virtue of subsection (1)(a) despite the requirements in that provision being met.

(3) A direction under subsection (1)(c) or (2) may relate to particular proceedings or any description of proceedings.

(4) If the Department prescribes conditions for the purposes of this section, the Housing Executive may bring proceedings in accordance with this section only if any such condition is satisfied.

(5) The Department may continue proceedings which have been brought by the Housing Executive in accordance with this section as if the proceedings had been brought in the Department’s name or it may discontinue the proceedings if—

(a)the proceedings were brought by virtue of subsection (1)(a),

(b)the Department makes provision under subsection (1)(b) which has the effect that the Housing Executive would no longer be entitled to bring the proceedings in accordance with this section,

(c)the Department withdraws a direction under subsection (1)(c) in relation to the proceedings, or

(d)a condition prescribed under subsection (4) ceases to be satisfied in relation to the proceedings.

(6) In exercising a power to bring proceedings in accordance with this section, the Housing Executive must have regard to the code of practice for prosecutors published by the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland under section 37 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002—

(a)in determining whether the proceedings should be instituted;

(b)in determining what charges should be preferred;

(c)in considering what representations to make to a magistrates’ court about mode of trial;

(d)in determining whether to discontinue proceedings.

(7) Regulations shall define “an investigation in respect of a benefit offence” for the purposes of this section.

(3) Section 110A (Housing Executive powers to prosecute benefit fraud) (as inserted by section 43 of the Welfare Reform Act (Northern Ireland) 2007) is amended as follows.

(4) In the heading, after “prosecute” insert “other”.

(5) In subsection (2)—

(a)for “unless” substitute “only if”;

(b)in paragraph (b), for “must not”, substitute “may”.

(6) In subsection (4)(b), for “gives” substitute “withdraws”.

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