One of the strategic responsibilities of the Department is Social Security Benefits. The Social Security Agency (an executive agency within the Department) exists to pay benefit to those who are entitled. Single Investigation Service, a branch within the Agency, has the overall responsibility for detecting and investigating benefit fraud.
Tackling benefit fraud is a key issue for the government in Northern Ireland. The Agency pays out about £4.7 billion on behalf of the Department. Fraud and Error is estimated to cost about £59.8 million or 1.3% of expenditure. Fraud is deliberate theft and costs about £16.9 million or 0.4% of expenditure. The Department is committed to ensuring that people in Northern Ireland get the support they need from the benefit system and has a robust strategy for tackling benefit fraud which has seen a reduction in the Agency from £60.9m in 2001 to £16.9m in 2012.
The Department is determined to continue in its efforts to root out fraudsters and take back the money they have stolen from our benefit system and, where it is appropriate, will continue to prosecute benefit thieves through the courts.
In addition the Department will pursue vigorously the recovery of any money stolen. When recovered such money goes back to Treasury for re-allocation as part of the normal Treasury allocation process.