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Young People

36. Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on his Department's spending plan on support for young people outlined in "The Government's Expenditure Plans 1989-92" White Paper, Cm 615.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Young people who have left school and are under 18 do not normally have title to social


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security benefits in their own right. As the White Paper explains in paragraph 38, income support was withdrawn from this age group in September 1988, except for certain restricted categories. These include young people unable to take up a place on a youth training scheme (for example, lone parents) or, for a short period, young people not working, but seeking a youth training scheme place, who either have no home, or are unable to live there, or who would unavoidably be in severe hardship if income support were not paid. We expect the benefit expenditure on these groups to be quite small.

Heating Allowances

39. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what has been the regional distribution of heating allowances in percentage terms in each of the past three years ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The table gives the information requested on supplementary benefit heating additions for the last three years for which information is available. These additions do not form part of the income support scheme which replaced supplementary benefit on 11 April 1988.


Region               |1984  |1986  |1987         

-------------------------------------------------

North Eastern        |16.91 |16.54 |16.53        

Midlands             |17.05 |16.95 |17.12        

North Western        |14.72 |14.51 |14.92        

London North         |15.89 |16.14 |15.49        

London South         |12.90 |13.38 |12.62        

Scotland             |9.93  |10.02 |11.02        

Wales and South West |12.60 |12.46 |12.30        

                                                 

Great Britain        |100.00|100.00|100.00       

Source: Annual Statistical Enquiries. The        

information was not collected in 1985.           

Board and Lodging Payments

40. Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the planned changes in board and lodging payments, paid to those in adult placement schemes.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the hon. and learned Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) on 20 February at column 475.

Maintenance Payments

44. Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he has received any recent representations on the need to increase the number of fathers making maintenance payments in respect of their children.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Department receives representations on this issue from time to time from individuals and organisations, including the National Council for One Parent Families. The Government are naturally concerned that for three quarters of the lone parent families receiving income support the absent husbands and fathers who should be helping to support them pay no maintenance at all.


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Pensioners

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many retirement pensioners (i) aged 65 to 70 years and (ii) aged 80 years and over both receive income from an occupational pension and receive housing benefit.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Latest information shows that in 1986 approximately 440,000 pensioner tax units where the head was aged 65 to 70 were in receipt of income from an occupational pension and received either a rent or rate rebate or rent allowance. The relevant figure for pensioner tax units where the head was aged 80 or over was about 220,000.

Source : Family Expenditure Survey 1986.

A pensioner tax unit is either a single person of state pension age or over, or a couple where the man is of state pension age or over.

Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners have an income in excess of £125 per week ; what percentage they represent of all pensioners ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 21 February 1989] : In 1986, the latest year for which figures are available, about 1.25 million (19 per cent.) pensioner tax units had gross incomes in excess of £125 a week.

A pensioner tax unit is either a single person of state pension age or over, or a couple where the man is of state pension age or over.

Source : 1986 Family Expenditure Survey.

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would have been the level of the retirement pension for (a) a single person and (b) a married couple in each year from 1979 to 1989 had upratings in each year been in line with increases in the retail price index or with earnings whichever was higher in each year.

Mr. Scott : The information requested is as follows :


                Value of retirement                         

                pension if increased in                     

                line with prices or                         

                earnings                                    

Uprating dates |Single        |Couple                       

               |£             |£                            

------------------------------------------------------------

November 1979  |23.20         |37.15                        

November 1980  |27.35         |43.80                        

November 1981  |30.65         |49.05                        

November 1982  |33.20         |53.10                        

November 1983  |36.10         |57.70                        

November 1984  |37.95         |60.65                        

November 1985  |41.30         |66.00                        

July 1986      |43.60         |69.70                        

April 1987     |45.50         |72.75                        

April 1988     |49.10         |78.50                        

April 1989     |53.30         |85.25                        

Pension Ages

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received seeking equalisation of state pension ages ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : We received a total of 363 representations between 10 February 1988 and 7 February 1989. The Government are fully committed to the


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principle of equal treatment for men and women. Equalisation of state pension age involves the consideration of a number of important issues, including long-term demographic and economic trends. Proposals for equalisation of pension age continue to be under consideration.

Attendance Allowance

Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will now take steps to increase attendance allowance.

Mr. Scott : We have no plans to increase attendance allowance except in line with the movement in prices.

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what information he has regarding the numbers of families in Cornwall in receipt of attendance allowance prior to 6 April 1987 who will be expected to repay benefit under the Social Security Act 1986 ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what information he has regarding the levels of repayments being required from families in Cornwall for overpayment of the attendance allowance prior to 6 April 1987 ; what is the minimum sum of repayment requested ; and what is the maximum.

Mr. Scott : I regret that the requested information is not available.

Information Technology

Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement of progress on the introduction of information technologies to facilitate internal communications in his Department and the provision of information to the public concerning those areas for which he is responsible ; and if he has any further plans to apply the newest technologies in these fields.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Department already uses information technology extensively to improve service to the public, to improve efficiency and to enhance the working conditions for staff, and the major programmes of information technology which are now under way will further improve the Department's operations. The computerised benefit systems being developed under the operational strategy will enable clients to obtain information regarding their claims more quickly, while computer printouts will provide clear explanations of how the benefit is calculated, and of entitlement. Progress is also being made on improving communications by upgrading the telephone systems, the widespread use of


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facsimile machines and the increasing use of new telecommunications devices, such as electronic mail, throughout the organisation.

Overpayment

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received regarding the bringing into force of section 53 of the Social Security Act 1986 by the Social Security Act 1986 (Commencement No. 4) Order 1986 (S.I., 1986, No. 1959) and its effect on claimants who used due care and diligence to avoid overpayment as specified in section 119(2) of the Social Security Act 1975 prior to the Social Security Act 1986 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : None. The provision was brought into force from 6 April 1987 by the Social Security (Payments on Account, Overpayments and Recovery) Regulations 1987 (S.I., 1987, No. 491). On or after that date all decisions made by the independent adjudicating authorities on whether an overpayment of benefit is recoverable have been subject to a common test of misrepresentation or failure to disclose a material fact.

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what advice local social security offices have received from his Department regarding the retrospective application of section 52 of the Social Security Act 1986 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : I assume that the hon. Member intended to refer to section 53 of the Social Security Act 1986. Section 53 has no retrospective effect. It applies only to decisions on overpayments made by the independent adjudicating authorities on or after 6 April 1987, the date on which the Social Security (Payment on Account, Overpayments and Recovery) Regulations 1987 (S.I., 1987, No. 491) came into force.

All decisions on whether overpayments should be recoverable are made by the independent adjudicating authorities. Guidance to adjudication officers is contained in the "Adjudication Officer's Guide" which is published by HMSO and a copy is in the Library.

Supplementary Benefit

Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will provide the live load figures of supplementary benefit for each of the following categories (1) unemployed claimants (E load), (2) claimants not required to register for work (A load) and (3) pensioners for each of the six local offices in Lothian region for the years April 1980 to April 1988.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information is as follows :


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Supplementary Benefit |(1)                  |1980                 |1981                 |1982                 |1983                 |1984                 |1985                 |1986                 |1987                                       

Live Load                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      |E                    |2,073                |3,280                |4,245                |4,701                |4,923                |5,246                |6,650                |7,000                                      

Edinburgh City ILO    |A                    |1,290                |1,377                |1,664                |1,877                |2,130                |2,408                |2,544                |2,800                                      

                      |P                    |2,361                |2,368                |2,341                |2,193                |2,254                |2,228                |2,230                |2,271                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                      |E                    |2,169                |3,434                |4,074                |4,254                |4,018                |4,026                |4,354                |4,373                                      

Edinburgh East ILO    |A                    |1,950                |2,127                |2,270                |2,609                |2,896                |3,153                |3,414                |3,832                                      

                      |P                    |2,717                |2,866                |2,921                |2,629                |2,962                |3,013                |3,176                |3,490                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                      |E                    |1,998                |3,205                |3,552                |3,499                |3,886                |4,255                |4,902                |5,188                                      

Edinburgh North ILO   |A                    |1,263                |1,385                |1,750                |1,932                |2,223                |2,392                |2,649                |3,223                                      

                      |P                    |2,654                |2,672                |2,689                |2,482                |2,553                |2,403                |2,465                |2,636                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                      |E                    |1,806                |3,057                |3,789                |4,301                |4,332                |4,398                |4,659                |4,819                                      

Edinburgh South ILO   |A                    |1,533                |1,641                |1,992                |2,477                |2,688                |2,955                |3,170                |3,340                                      

                      |P                    |2,369                |2,434                |2,512                |2,477                |2,632                |2,745                |2,955                |3,106                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                      |E                    |1,630                |2,744                |3,301                |3,578                |3,964                |4,120                |4,877                |4,835                                      

Edinburgh West ILO    |A                    |1,548                |1,759                |2,055                |2,318                |2,603                |2,831                |3,194                |3,406                                      

                      |P                    |2,874                |2,972                |3,021                |2,895                |2,881                |2,814                |2,793                |2,966                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                      |E                    |2,353                |4,702                |5,825                |6,701                |6,413                |6,306                |6,387                |5,746                                      

Bathgate ILO          |A                    |1,743                |2,072                |2,933                |3,590                |3,980                |4,273                |4,628                |4,928                                      

                      |P                    |2,825                |2,980                |3,149                |2,885                |3,334                |3,109                |3,368                |3,535                                      

Note (1)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

E=unemployed claimants.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

A=claimants not required to register for work.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

P=pensioners.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Source: 100 per cent. count of cases in action, which include a number of cases where benefit payment has ceased but other action is continuing.                                                                                                  

Family Income Supplement

Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will indicate the number of claimants and the number of dependants and the percentage take-up of family income supplement for the years April 1980 to April 1989.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information about awards of family income supplement current on each of the dates shown is as follows :


                      |Claimants (Thousands)|Partners (Thousands) |Dependent children                         

                                                                  |(Thousands)                                

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

April 1980            |88                   |38                   |191                                        

April 1981            |106                  |52                   |227                                        

April 1982            |142                  |77                   |306                                        

April 1983            |189                  |110                  |402                                        

April 1984            |204                  |123                  |431                                        

April 1985            |203                  |120                  |423                                        

April 1986            |209                  |123                  |432                                        

April 1987            |220                  |128                  |457                                        

Family income supplement was replaced by family credit on 11 April 1988. Immediately prior to the changeover 216,000 awards of family income supplement were current, but information about the numbers of dependants is not available.

The available information about estimated take-up is as follows :


               |By caseload   |By expenditure               

               |Per cent.     |Per cent.                    

------------------------------------------------------------

1981-82        |48            |53                           

1983-84        |54            |65                           

More up-to-date information is not yet available.

Citizens Advice Bureau Volunteers

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if it is his policy to investigate the social security claims of citizens advice bureau volunteers.


Column 454

Mr. Peter Lloyd : There are no special arrangements for investigating such claims.

National Insurance Cards

Mr. Favell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether the plastic national insurance number cards now issued to all 18- year-olds are capable of being used or adapted for use in cash dispensing machines ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Plastic national insurance number cards are not capable of being used in cash dispensing machines and there are no proposals for inclusion of further information on the magnetic strip.

Chlorofluorocarbons

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is his best estimate of the amount of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants under the control of his Department ;

(2) what plans there are to minimise the risk of leaks of chlorofluorocarbons from refrigeration and air conditioning systems under his Department's control.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the hon. Member to the reply by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Merionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) today.

Sickness (Self-certification)

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he has any evidence of employers refusing to accept sickness self- certification forms SCI.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : No. It is up to the employer what evidence of incapacity he requires from his employees when sick. But the employer cannot require a doctor's statement until a period of sickness has lasted seven days.


 

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