Parliament: Tories attack lack of fraud control

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT came under pressure to intensify its efforts to combat fraud yesterday when the Tories accused them of going soft on benefit cheats.

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative social security spokesman, asked ministers whether the Government would provide enough funding to achieve its targets to reduce fraud, particularly in housing benefits.

Challenging Angela Eagle, the social security minister, Mr Duncan Smith pointed to a National Audit Office report published last week which found that Benefits Agency accounts have failed to win a clean bill of health for the tenth year running.

The agency committed errors totalling more than half a billion pounds in 1997-98 and losses through fraud amounted to more than pounds 1.5bn.

Mr Duncan Smith asked: "Will there be enough money to meet targets and no watering down of initiatives?"

Ms Eagle said targets would be met, and "far from being watered down", the Government was "gearing up" the campaign against fraud.