|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Social security spending in the United Kingdom on the elderly is currently approximately 5 per cent. of gross domestic product. Comparable figures for the other member states of the European Community are not available.
50. Mr. Wolfson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many men and women who will reach retirement age on or after 1 October will benefit from the abolition of the retirement pensions earnings rule.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : There are three main catetgories of people who will benefit from the abolition of the retirement pension earnings rule. Individuals who reach pension age on or after 1 October will be able to choose to receive their retirement pension and earn as much as they can, with no reduction in their state retirement pension. There are 200,000 individuals currently deferring receipt of their retirement pension and a further 2,500 individuals whose retirement pension is currently reduced because of earnings over £75 a week who will benefit. In addition, there are about 200,000 individuals who currently earn less than £75 a week who may choose from 1 October to earn more, plus a large number of people who are not earning at present who may now choose to start earning.
14. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will review the circumstances under which long-term invalidity benefit claimants are referred for independent medical examination by his Department's divisional medical officers.
Mr. Scott : We are satisfied that the present arrangements, using independent doctors employed by the Department of Health, strike the right balance between the interests of the claimant and the need to ensure that benefit rules are fulfilled. In 1988, 55 per cent. of claimants referred to the regional medical service were found incapable of work without the need for them to undergo a further medical examination. I have no plans for a review.
15. Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many requests for social security leaflets have been met in the 48-hour turnabout period ; and how many requests are still outstanding.
32. Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many requests for social security leaflets have been met in the 48-hour turnabout period ; and how many requests are still waiting.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Since the introduction this month of the additional distribution arrangements for leaflets and forms there have been seven items requested making a total order of 5,615 pieces sent within the 48-hour turnabout. There is one part of one order outstanding awaiting the supply of re-printed leaflets. The remainder of this order is expected to be fulfilled this week.
Column 428help sportsmen and women with disabilities to practice their chosen sport. The fund will be administered by the British Paralympic Association, and will help disabled people and voluntary organisations with the costs of equipment, training or organising events. It will be of considerable assistance to disabled people wishing to take part in sport at any level.
Although of course the responsibility for sporting issues lies with the Department of the Environment, officials in both Departments work closely together on matters affecting sportsmen and women with disabilities. For example, the Department has participated in the major review of sporting needs and opportunities for people with disabilities, which has been led by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment and Minister for Sport. [The review group's report is due to be published in July.]
Mr. Scott : The Department of Social Security does not finance any services for disabled people through local authorities but, through its network of local offices, provides benefits to disabled people at nationally determined rates.
Mr. Scott : Organisations representing disabled people are already commenting on the published findings of the surveys of disability carried out by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys. We welcome those comments, which contribute to the process of reviewing disability benefits in the light of the OPCS data. As I said in my reply to the right hon. Member on 17 April at column 10, I hope to announce a timetable for further action after all the survey results have been published in July.
Mr. Scott : The United Kingdom participated in the European Commission's first action programme for the disabled (1983-1987), and is currently participating in the second follow on action programme called Handicapped people in Europe Living Independently in an Open Society (HELIOS). This programme involves setting up local model activities to represent good practice in vocational and economic integration, social integration and independent living, and educational integration.
In addition in 1988 the United Kingdom allocated £27.8 million from the European social fund towards vocational training projects for the disabled re-entering the open labour market. This represents the largest allocation to any EC member state for 1988 and accounts for just under 8 per cent. of the allocation to the United Kingdom.
Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what has been the increase in real terms in spending on social security benefits for the sick and disabled since 1978-79 ; and what proportion of this increase has been due to (a) the increase in the number of people receiving benefit, (b) increases in the actual benefit rates and (c) increases in the total real value of payments for reasons other than (b) .
Mr. Scott : Spending on the long-term sick and disabled increased by £3.5 billion in real terms between 1978-79 and 1988-89, a real increase of 90 per cent. Increases in the numbers of beneficiaries account for about 90 per cent. of the real increase and the balance of 10 per cent. represents a real increase in the average amount of benefit paid. It is not possible to provide a breakdown of the increase in the amount of benefit paid as requested in (b) and (c). A full comparison of benefit rates in 1978-79 and 1988-89 cannot be made because of the changes to the income- related benefits over this period.
Mr. Scott : A pregnant woman who has worked during her pregnancy will generally get 18 weeks statutory maternity pay (SMP) from her employer. The rate payable depends on her length of service and earnings, but if she has worked for the same employer for at least two years she will get 90 per cent. of her earnings for the first six weeks of payment. A pregnant woman with a recent employment record who does not qualify for SMP will get 18 weeks maternity allowance (MA) from the Department of Social Security. Pregnant women on low incomes also qualify for income support under the normal rules for that payment. Where they are in receipt of income support or family credit they can, in addition, claim an £85 social fund maternity payment.
34. Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what savings will be made in 1989-90 by not uprating the social fund payment to pregnant women on income support in line with other benefits.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Since there is no statutory duty to uprate social fund maternity payments, no saving arises in 1989-90. However, to have increased such payments in line with other benefits would have cost about £650,000.
20. Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if statistical information is available on the number of claimants and subsequent recipients of family credit in each area of the United Kingdom ; and what arrangements are being made to monitor the take-up rate during the current campaign.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Information is now available on the number of people actually receiving family credit in each local social security office area in Great Britain immediately before the start of the current take-up campaign, and this information will be updated from time to time as part of the monitoring of the campaign. A similar breakdown of the number of claims for family
Column 430credit is not available. Information about take-up rates can only be obtained retrospectively, from family expenditure survey data, and only on a national basis.
Mr. Scott : There is considerable evidence that the social security reforms have resulted in benefits being directed more accurately and promptly. For example, income support (formerly supplementary benefit) error rates are down from 12 to 8 per cent. claims clearance times have fallen from six to five days and, for family credit (formerly family income supplement), claims clearance times have fallen from 18 to 16.5 working days.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Excluding the extra help needed because unemployment was rising, support for families fell between 1974-75 and 1978 -79 by 7 per cent. in real terms--or £500 million in 1988-89 values. Under this Government, the real increase up to 1988-89 was £1.8 billion (£1,840 million)--a rise of 27.3 per cent.
29. Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether payments made from any disaster fund raised by public donations affect the housing allowances or other social security benefit entitlement of the recipient ; and if he will make a statement.
The income-related benefits--income support, family credit and housing benefit--may be affected by payments from disaster funds but this will depend on the size and nature of the payments. The first £5 per week of any regular payment may be disregarded and a lump sum payment will not affect benefit unless it takes the claimant's capital over £3,000. An income of £1 per week is assumed for every £250, or part thereof, of capital between £3,000 and £6,000 in income support and family credit, and between £3,000 and £8,000 in housing benefit. No income support or family credit is payable if the capital held is over £6,000, and no housing benefit is available if it is over £8,000. However, capital held on trust, may be disregarded. For example, any payment made from a disaster fund because of a personal injury, which is placed on trust, is fully disregarded for at least two years and, in the case of a child, for as long as the child is a dependant. Any actual payments from the trust will be taken into account as income or capital in the normal way. In addition, any payment made to a third party will be completely disregarded if it is used to provide goods or services which are not already met by benefit. Officials continue to liaise with the administrators of the Hillsborough disaster fund and they have advised them of the social security rules.
The 1989 Social Security Bill will not result in any social security benefit being recovered from payments made from any disaster fund.
41. Mr. David Davis : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the level of Government financial support for the family in the European Community ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Department is taking action on all the recommendations of "The Business of Service" report. When we published the report in June 1988 my right hon. Friend anounced to the House that we had not rejected any of the report's 54 recommendations, although some needed further work. A copy of the action plan giving details of our response to all the report's recommendations was placed in the Library in January this year. A full implementation report will be prepared by the autumn. Substantial progress is being made on the recommendations which need further work and we are in the process of implementing the recommendations we have accepted. In particular, my hon. Friend will be aware that we have already announced plans for relocation of some work from some London social security offices. My right hon. Friend also announced on 17 May the publication of a national definition of service, the setting of new performance targets and plans to turn social security operations work into "Next Steps" agencies.
Mr. Scott : We have given an undertaking to monitor all aspects of the social security reforms. This is a continuing process and is showing that the reforms are meeting their main objectives in producing a benefit system that is easier to understand and administer, that is better targeted on priority groups and that enhances rather than obstructs individual responsibility and choice. The monitoring process has also enabled us to make improvements where these have been shown to be necessary. For example, since April 1988 :
-- the capital limit for housing benefit has been increased from £6,000 to £8,000, at a cost of £30 million ;
-- transitional payments of housing benefit have been introduced for pensioners, working families with children, sick and disabled people and widows, at a cost of £70 million ;
-- £70 million extra help has been given to poorer families with children on top of a normal uprating ;
-- nearly £200 million extra will be available to older and disabled pensioners from October this year, on top of their uprated benefits ;
-- the independent living fund has been established to enable severely disabled people to live independently in the community ; -- extra help will be given, from July this year, to 16 and 17-year-olds who are forced to live away from home ;
-- women widowed before the introduction of the reforms have had their benefit restored in line with the expectations that they formed then ;
-- premiums within income support are being extended to all claimants receiving urgent cases payments, notably asylum seekers. I believe that these measures demonstrate the Government's readiness to respond quickly in those areas
Column 433where fine tuning is shown to be necessary and that they add to the success and underlying coherence of the reforms.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when his Department will pay Dorothy Moran her claim for the higher rate of attendance allowance as upheld by the social security commissioners, under their issued decision CA/139/1988 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Scott : The tribunal of social security commissioners decision CA/139/1988 did not award Mrs. Moran the higher rate of attendance allowance, but it found that the independent attendance allowance board had made errors in law in its decision that she satisfied only the medical criteria for the lower rate of the allowance. The board is in the process of reviewing its decision in the light of the commissioners' findings.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give for each year since 1979 the total number of prosecutions initiated by the Department of Social Security against employers for failure to pay over national insurance contributions.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Department uses both civil and criminal proceedings to recover national insurance contributions that have not been paid over by employers. The information requested is not available prior to 1983-84. The available information is as follows :
|Civil proceedings |Criminal proceedings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1983-84 |2,080 |1,971 1984-85 |1,570 |1,326 1985-86 |1,259 |13 1986-87 |1,508 |15 1987-88 |1,254 |10 1988-89 |1,522 |6
The reduction in criminal proceedings after 1984-85 resulted partly from the repeal of section 152(4) of the Social Security Act 1975.
Year |Amount |£ --------------------------------- 1979-80 |8,659,576 1980-81 |69,687,552 1981-82 |30,402,682 1982-83 |73,073,351 1983-84 |83,505,000 1984-85 |77,606,000 1985-86 |94,325,000 1986-87 |99,794,000 1987-88 |94,952,000 Notes: 1. Prior to 1980-81, amounts of unpaid national insurance contributions transferred from Inland Revenue were recorded only when the Department had abandoned hopes of recovery. As a result, a significant total debt accumulated, much of which was eventually abandoned. From 1980-81, it was decided to record as unpaid amounts transferred from Inland Revenue in the year the transfer took place. Outstanding sums transferred in earlier years amounting to £40,764,693 were therefore included in the figure shown for 1980-81. 2. The amount shown for 1981-82 was affected by industrial action.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give for each year since 1979 (a) the total number of inquiries from local Department of Social Security offices to the contributions office in Newcastle and (b) the number of inquiries returned because they cannot be linked to any record of contributions.
! |Number --------------------------------- 1981-82 |10,846,742 1982-83 |24,542,960 1983-84 |19,706,292 1984-85 |18,384,182 1985-86 |30,451,984 1986-87 |37,465,803 1987-88 |22,887,640 1988-89 |23,254,859
No information is available for years before 1981-82.
Records are kept of the number of items which are rejected during computer processing, but records of the number of items rejected because no account has been traced are not maintained separately. For 1988-89 the overall total of rejected items was 721,960.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give for each year since 1979 (a) the total number of claimants requesting that contributions are deemed paid under regulation 39 of the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 1979 and (b) the number of such requests granted ; and if he will also give these figures broken down according to type of benefit claimed.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : No record is kept of the number of claimants who request deeming of contributions under regulation 39 of the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 1979. Regulation 39 is applied only where the secondary contributor is unable to pay arrears of contributions due. This usually happens when an employer is bankrupt or goes into liquidation. Where claimants to benefit find that their contribution record is deficient and report the fact that they have paid contributions to DSS, investigations are commenced to recover the moneys due. As benefit rights in respect of all such employees are protected records, the number of these reports is not maintained.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will now prepare a statement of case with regard to Martin William John Smale of Grosvenor house, Ivybridge ; and why no action has taken place since completed forms in respect of an appeal were acknowledged as having been received by the DHSS on 28 June 1988.
Column 435Martin William John Smale of Grosvenor house, Ivybridge. Medical branch is currently preparing the opinion of medical division which accompanies the statement of case. Both documents will be despatched to Mr. Smale's representative within the month.
At the time of lodging the appeal, Mr. Smale's representative made representations about the terms of Mr. Smale's discharge from the Navy. War pensions branch made inquiries to the Ministry of Defence and wrote to Mr. Smale's representative about the findings on 20 April. This was in addition to preparing the statement of case and seeking medical advice.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Latest available information indicates that about 90 per cent. of widows aged 44 and under remarry within 10 years. This information was published in Population Trends No. 30 (January 1983), in table 3 of the article by John Haskey of OPCS, entitled "Widowhood, Widowerhood and Remarriage".
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what comparative assessment he has made of the United Kingdom system of maternity benefits as against those of European Community countries.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Delays in hearing social security appeals are steadily decreasing due to a reduction in their volume caused largely by the introduction of the social fund and the replacement of supplementary benefit by the simpler scheme of income support. The administrative procedures involved are undertaken partly by the president of social security and medical appeal tribunals, and partly by the Department of Social Security. However, overall responsibility for appeals processing lies with the president, and the hon. Member may wish to take up the matter directly with him.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of (a) budgeting loans, (b) crisis loans and (c) community care grants were awarded to each of the 15 client groups defined by his Department since the introduction of the social fund.
Social fund budgeting loans, crisis loans and community care grants for year 1988-89 Estimated percentages of numbers of awards by client group Client group |Budgeting loans |Crisis loans |Community care grants ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Not known or unallocated |0.5 |0.2 |0.4 Applicant or partner aged 60 or over 80 and over, with IS higher pensioner premium |0.3 |0.1 |4.5 Aged 60-79, disabled with higher pensioner premium |0.6 |0.1 |3.7 Aged 60-79 |3.9 |0.9 |14.3 Applicant and partner aged under 60 Lone parents with IS disability premium |0.4 |0.2 |0.9 Family with IS disability premium |3.6 |1.3 |3.4 Others with IS disability premium |3.6 |1.5 |10.0 Lone parents |43.9 |19.8 |25.2 Unemployed, signing quarterly at UBO, with IS family premium |0.7 |0.1 |0.7 Unemployed, signing quarterly at UBO, without IS family premium |2.1 |0.5 |1.5 Unemployed or with training allowance, with IS family premium |16.7 |13.8 |9.5 Unemployed or with training allowance, without IS family premium |18.8 |42.8 |16.4 Others, with IS family premium |1.0 |1.1 |2.0 Others, without IS family premium |3.8 |5.9 |6.3 Involved in a trade dispute |0.0 |0.0 |0.0 Not on IS |n/a |11.8 |1.1 |------- |------- |------- Total |100.0 |100.0 |100.0 n/a=Not applicable. Note: Percentages are based on data from June 1988 to March 1989.
Mr. Grocott : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will provide as much information as possible about his Department's expenditure on commercial television advertising, without breaching commercial confidentiality, over each of the past five years.
Column 438was incurred by the Department of Health and Social Security. Between May 1984 and July 1988 that figure was £1,752,745.