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Benefit offences Scottish investigations draft rules released
How to investigate possible social security fraud while preserving the ethos of the Scottish social security system – that of treating people with dignity and respect – is the subject of a new Scottish Government consultation.
Ministers are seeking views on draft Investigation of Offences Regulations, along with a draft code of practice for investigations
Offences under the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, ss 71-73 include obtaining social security assistance by deceit and failing (or causing another person to fail) to notify a change of circumstances. Section 75 gives ministers a power to provide for the investigation of offences through regulations, and s 76 requires that a code of practice covering the use of these powers must be consulted on and published.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, states in the foreword to the consultation that "These offences have been carefully framed to ensure genuine errors and mistakes will not be criminalised.
"However, where there is an allegation or suspicion that a fraud offence has been committed, Social Security Scotland will be responsible for gathering information and the evidence required to determine whether an offence has been committed. Any such investigation will be carried out under a presumption of innocence, in line with our rights-based approach. However, should the evidence suggest an offence has been committed, the evidence will be passed to the prosecuting authorities."
After referring to the powers to obtain information relevant to aninvestigation, she continues: "Section 76 of the Act rightly requires that these regulations are accompanied by a code of practice for investigations. We consider it important not only to set out how we will use our proposed regulatory powers for investigations, but to demonstrate how we will ensure people are treated with dignity and respect during an investigation."
Click here to access the consultation. The deadline for responses is 29 October 2018.