The Statutory Review of the Debt and Fraud Powers of the Digital Economy Act (2017)

Cabinet Office written statement – made at on 6 February 2024.

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Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I am pleased to announce that the report of the review of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) 2017 Debt and Fraud Powers is to be laid before (i) Parliament, (ii) the Scottish Parliament, (iii) the Welsh Parliament, and (iv) the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Debt and Fraud Powers, as contained in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 respectively, allow specified public authorities to disclose information for the purpose of managing and reducing debt owed to a public authority or to the Crown and combating fraud against the Public Sector.

These Powers must be reviewed as soon as reasonably practicable three years following their coming into force in 2018, for the purpose of deciding whether they should be retained, amended or repealed. As part of this Review I am required to publish and arrange for the laying of a report on the Review before (i) Parliament, (ii) the Scottish Parliament, (iii) the Welsh Parliament, and (iv) the Northern Ireland Assembly. The report is to be published on GOV.UK.

The report highlights significant progress that public bodies have made in reducing debt and combating fraud. Since September 2018, data sharing using the DEA has saved the public purse a minimum of £137 million in combating fraud and recovering debt, with £132 million having been fully audited and checked for veracity for fraud and £5 million in recovered debt. The powers have been used by 17 Government Departments and Executive Agencies and 70 Local Authorities, resulting in over 100 data sharing pilots that are registered on GOV.UK. This review shows the effectiveness of this legislation, and how it can lead to strong, measurable outcomes.

There is of course more to be done which is why, based on the evidence provided in this report, I am pleased to announce that I will be retaining the powers in their current form.