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Social Security Fraud Act 2001

Clause 2: Electronic access to information

18.This clause provides that the Secretary of State and authorities administering Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit can require organisations to enter into arrangements so that the information can be provided electronically on-line where facilities exist to provide such access. For example, credit reference agencies provide direct on-line access to their databases instead of processing enquiries in writing. The clause provides that only those officers especially authorised can use such on-line facilities. This clause enables the Secretary of State and authorities administering Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit to require the provision of audit trail information in the arrangements in order to ensure that officers’ use of the system can be thoroughly monitored. Authorities administering Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit are prevented from requiring an organisation to provide on-line facilities without the consent of the Secretary of State.  They are also prevented from entering into a voluntary arrangement for on-line access to private information without the Secretary of State’s consent.

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