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Welfare Reform Act (Northern Ireland) 2007

Section 44: Housing Executive functions relating to benefit: information

Section 44 provides for a number of changes to the information sharing provisions contained in the Administration Act by giving the Housing Executive access to information relating to benefit offences as well as allowing the Department to obtain information from the Housing Executive relating to those offences. These changes are of a consequential nature, in that they are necessary to allow the new investigation and prosecution powers to function effectively.

Currently, section 116C of the Administration Act permits the Department to disclose information to the Housing Executive for purposes relating to the administration of, and offences against, housing benefit. Restricted in such a way, the Housing Executive will not have access to information and evidence held by the Department relating to benefit offences. Subsection (1) amends section 116C so as to allow the Department to disclose to the Housing Executive information relating to benefit fraud investigations and prosecutions. This extension applies to the investigation and prosecution of benefit offences only, and does not extend its power to supply information to the Housing Executive for administrative purposes more generally. This information may include details about the award and payment of benefits as well as copies of claim forms and other signed declarations.

Section 116D of the Administration Act allows the Department to require the Housing Executive to provide it with certain information relating to social security. Subsection (2) amends section 116D so as to permit the Department to require the Housing Executive to provide information it had obtained during the investigation or prosecution of a benefit offence.

Subsection (3) makes a consequential amendment to section 119A(8) of the Administration Act so that it reflects the provisions of section 116D as amended by subsection (2).

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