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Social Security Fraud Act 2001

Clause 1: Additional powers to obtain information

15.The measures in the Act will provide for officers authorised under sections 109A and 110A of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 to require information about individuals from specified private and public sector organisations. Information may be obtained, about persons identified by name or description, where it is reasonable for the purposes set out at section 109A(2) and 110A(2). The list of specified private and public sector organisations that can be required to provide information can be extended by an order with the affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament and amended by an order with a negative resolution.

16.The measures also provide for specifically authorised officers to require general information from utility companies about the quantity of services supplied to residential properties. DSS intends to match this information electronically with benefit records in order to detect fraud. For example, if a person was claiming Income Support at a particular address and was consuming no electricity at that address this could indicate that he does not, in fact, live there and that his claim may be fraudulent. The measures do not provide for the bulk acquisition of individuals' names, only details of utilities supplied to residential addresses.

17.If those from whom information has been requested fail to comply with authorised officers’ requests they can be prosecuted under the current section 111 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. They may be fined up to £1,000 plus £40 for each day after this that they continue to fail to provide the information requested.

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