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Dr. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which of the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department (a) hold open meetings, (b) conduct public consultation exercises, (c) conduct consultation exercises with outside commercial interests, (d) publish a register of members' interests, (e) publish agendas for meetings and (f) publish the minutes of meetings; and whether this is in each case (i) under a statutory requirement or (ii) voluntary.
The National Advisory Council on Employment of People with Disabilities;
Committees for the Employment of People with Disabilities (sixty local committees);
Supported Employment Consultative Group;
Race Relations Advisory Group.
None of these hold their meetings in public, or make minutes or agendas public, carry out public consultation or have a register of members' interests. They are bodies set up by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to advise him and the Department on particular matters.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The information for Great Britain is in the table. For information on Northern Ireland, I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Percentage of gross domestic product spent by Great Britain on payment of state pensions Year |Per cent. ------------------------------ 1992-93 |4 1993-94 |4 1994-95 |4 1995-96 |4 1. The data source is the 1994 Departmental Report and the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1995-96. 2. 1992-93 is the latest year for which the outturn figures for expenditure for State pensions are available, therefore the percentage figures from 1993-94 to 1995-96 are estimates.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will estimate the effect on the number of claimants of mortgage interest assistance with income support (a) from April to October 1995 and (b) from October 1995 to April 1996, of the decisions to (i) reduce the cap for income support mortgage interest payments to £100,000 and (ii) to pay income support for mortgage interest only after the first nine months on benefit; and what will be the savings in benefit expenditure which result from each of these measures; (2) what savings he estimates will result from the proposed reduction of the cap on mortgages for mortgage interest payment purposes in a full financial year.
Mr. Roger Evans: The effect on the number of claimants of mortgage interest assistance with income support, from April to October 1995, of the decision to reduce the cap for new income support mortgage interest payments to £100,000 will negligible. The estimated savings for the period April to October 1995 is around £1 million, and for October to April 1996 a further £1 million. These estimates are based on the 1993 annual statistical inquiry, uprated to 1995 96 levels. The new arrangements to pay income support mortgage interest only after the first nine months on benefit will not come into operation until 1 October 1995 and will be subject to wide consultation. The financial effect will depend on the outcome of the consultation and the final detail of the scheme.
Mr. Arbuthnot: There are approximately 64.2 million national insurance numbers currently in issue in the United Kingdom. This is the total number of national insurance numbers issued to date, and, as such includes numbers issued to persons now deceased.
Mr. Roger Evans: The information requested is set out in the table. Savings are estimated to be the annual cost of paying half mortgage interest payments, based on average weekly expenditure from the May 1991, May 1992 and May 1993 annual statistical inquiry.
|Estimated annual |savings from |reduced Year |£ million ------------------------------------------------------ 1991 |135 1992 |100 1993 |65
Sir David Knox: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the net spending power figures for (a) a single-wage couple with two children aged four and six, and (b) a lone mother with two children aged four and six, each working full time, for 30 hours a week or more, earning £100, £110, £120, £130, £140, £150, £160, £170, £180, £190, £200, £210, £220, £230, £240, £250, £260, £270, £280, £290 and £300 a week assuming child care costs for the lone mother of £70 a week and taking into account the £40 child care allowance introduced last October and also assuming that the £10 a week family credit premium for full-time workers announced in the Budget was already in place.
Net spending power after payment of rent, council tax and childcare charges Spending power (£ net) |Lone parent with |One-earner couple Earnings level |two children |with two children ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 100 |106.66 |139.14 110 |107.71 |139.46 120 |108.76 |139.77 130 |109.41 |140.07 140 |109.94 |140.36 150 |110.62 |140.66 160 |111.30 |140.95 170 |111.99 |141.24 180 |112.67 |142.21 190 |113.35 |144.16 200 |114.03 |146.11 210 |114.91 |148.06 220 |116.86 |150.01 230 |118.81 |151.96 240 |120.76 |157.65 250 |122.71 |164.15 260 |124.66 |170.65 270 |126.61 |177.15 280 |128.56 |183.65 290 |130.51 |190.15 300 |135.50 |196.65 Notes: 1. Each family type is assumed to pay estimated average local authority rent and council tax for 1994-95. 2. Families are assumed to be receiving any Family Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Child Benefit to which they are entitled. The lone parent families are also assumed to be in receipt of One Parent Benefit.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much has been spent on telephone charges and how many telephone calls have been made by his Department for each of the last five years.
1990 91: £36,195,446.12
1991 92: £36,762,993.82
1992 93: £52,665,961.71
1993 94: £61,699,223.12
Details of the number of callas made per year are not held.
Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what special notice will be included in pensioners' order books explaining the compensation arrangements for the first stage of VAT on fuel at eight per cent. following the decision not to proceed with the second stage of VAT on fuel to 17.5 per cent.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Help with 8 per cent. VAT on domestic fuel has been included in order books since April this year; introducing explanations now would be inappropriate. In addition, there is little evidence that there is any need for them.
The uprating in April 1995 will be higher as a result of the 8 per cent. levy feeding through in the retail prices index and Rossi. However, with a further tranche of help now unnecessary, there will be no additional increases above normal uprating. A special explanation next year would therefore also be inappropriate.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what use his Department has made of executive search agencies in filling vacancies within his Department and executive agencies administered by his Department during the last year; and how much these services have cost his Department.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many British citizens have failed the habitual residence test since the introduction of the regulations designed to clamp down on European benefit tourism; and what information he has on their ethnic origins.
Mr. Roger Evans: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson) on 5 December, Official Report , column 10 . Information on the ethnic origin of claimants is not collected.
Column 930duration or more he has made in Britain in 1994 in the course of his official duties.
Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps the Benefits Agency intends to take to review income support claims to establish whether the severe disability premium is payable.
Mr. Roger Evans: I have asked the Benefits Agency to check all live claims where potential entitlement to the severe disability premium has not previously been considered. We are taking steps to establish whether similar action is needed in claims where income support is no longer in payment. This will be a large and complex task, which will not be completed until well into next year.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the names and addresses of the persons and organisations from whom he invited comments on each of the discussion papers relating to the future of pensions issued since June 1994; if he will place in the Library copies of the responses received which did not include a request that they be kept confidential; and if he will list the other organisations from whom he has received representations since June 1994 on the Government's proposals for legislation on pensions.
Mr. Arbuthnot: This Department has issued four consultation papers since June 1994: "The Selection and Appointment of Member-nominated Trustees", "The Structure of the Levies", "A Requisite Benefits Test" and "Age Related Rebates for Contracted Out Money Purchase Occupational Pension Schemes". I shall shortly place in the Library a list of the persons and organisations to whom copies were sent, together with copies of their responses, except where these included a request that they be kept confidential.
We have received a large number of comments and representations on the Government's proposals for legislation on pensions. A list of the organisations concerned could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.
I announced a comprehensive package of anti-discrimination measures on 24 November, which outlined the Government's plans to introduce legislation in the areas of employment, access to goods and services and the establishment of a national disability council and
Column 931other initiatives in the areas of transport and education to give disabled people greater independence. Our goal is the elimination of discrimination against disabled people.
The first phase of a publicity campaign aimed at raising awareness amongst the general public was launched in early December.
Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list those organisations which have submitted a bid to take over the day-to-day running of the information technology operations and support services of the Information Technology Services Agency.
Electronic Data Systems Ltd
Hoskyns Group plc
ICL plc and ICL plc/De La Rue plc as a consortium
Integrated Systems Solutions Company Ltd
SEMA Group plc
Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems Ltd
Mr. Bernie Grant: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to address the needs of parents on income support who are having difficulty supporting their student sons and daughters in further education; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Roger Evans: Parents in receipt of income support or other social security benefits are entitled to child benefit and a dependency addition for any dependent child aged under 19 who is in full-time non- advanced education.
We believe that young people remaining at school after their 19th birthday to complete their studies, and their families, should turn for any necessary additional financial assistance to the sources of funding available through the educational maintenance system.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in how many cases income support payments by his Department were discontinued within nine months of payment commencing; and what percentage that represented of the total number of claimants in the latest period for which figures are available.
Mr. Roger Evans: The information is not available in the form requested. The income support statistical inquiries collect information only on the stock of people actually in receipt of benefit on a single day each quarter.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to alter the claims and payments regulations for income support in order to amend preserved rights to income support and end the consequent two-tier system in sheltered housing; and if he will make a statement.
Column 932Preserved rights to income support at the higher levels are available to most people living in residential care and nursing homes on 31 March 1993. Preserved rights were introduced to provide reassurance to vulnerable people that the introduction of community care would not affect their eligibility for the higher levels of income support and to assist in the smooth changeover to the new community care arrangements. Preserved rights are lost only if the resident is absent from residential care for a specific length of time, depending on the circumstances. We have no plans to change these arrangements.
Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people in the last year for which figures are available applied for (a) grants and (b) loans from the social fund in respect of expenses incurred in visiting sick children in hospital.
Mr. Roger Evans: The information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Figures on the number of social fund awards for travelling expenses for the current financial year to 30 November 1994 are set out in the table.
Award types |Number<1> ------------------------------------ Grants |51,056 Loans |10,324 <1> The reason for travel cannot be identified.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many people are employed by his Department to deal with fraud in relation to people who are falsely claiming to be unemployed; (2) what is his estimate of the cost to his Department of organised fraud relating to benefits for the unemployed;
(3) if he will make a statement on benefit fraud among people who are claiming benefits as unemployed and failing to declare income from (a) casual work and (b) full-time work;
(4) what is his estimate of the number of people who are claiming benefits on the basis of being unemployed despite being in full-time work;
(5) what was the estimated cost of fraud in benefits for the unemployed in each year since 1978 79 (a) in total and (b) for each specific category of benefit;
(6) what is his estimate of the number of people claiming benefits as unemployed, who are failing to declare income from (a) casual work and (b) full-time work.
Column 933We have estimated that 60 per cent. of all fraud involves misrepresentation of a claimant's financial circumstances. This includes, for example, income from investments and savings as well as undeclared income from employment.
The Benefits Agency employs over 3,000 staff, combating fraud of all types, whether committed by an individual or by organised teams. Last year--1993 94--312,000 irregularities were identified and a record £654 million of fraud was detected.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Social Security announced recently the investment of £300 million, over the next three years, in measures to prevent and deter fraud, and to improve further the effectiveness of investigations.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures showing, for each year since 1987 (a) the total amount of cash losses due to irrecoverable payments of pensions, etc., income support and family benefits recorded during the year, (b) the total amount of errors in benefit payments recorded and (c) total savings for the year from anti-fraud initiatives.
Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of benefits is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available. Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Donald Dewar, dated 16 December 1994:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking about irrecoverable overpayments of benefits, recorded benefit payment errors and benefit savings obtained from fraud initiatives.
Decisions about whether an overpayment of benefit has occurred, how much has been overpaid, whether it is recoverable and from whom it should be recovered are made by the independent adjudicating authorities. However, an officer acting on behalf of the Secretary of State may subsequently decide not to pursue recovery.
Complete information concerning the amount and number of irrecoverable overpayments is not available. I have provided the details which are available at Appendix A, B, C and D. These give the total benefit losses and do not differentiate between irrecoverable and unrecovered losses. The data provided was used to compile the Benefits Agency's (BA) annual accounts for the years 1987 92; figures for 1993 94 are not included because the National Insurance Fund Annual Account has neither been audited by the National Audit Office, nor signed by the Accounting Officer.
Records and data on Retirement Pension and Widows Benefit for the year 1987 88 are no longer available. In addition, the data on losses by category for Income Support and Family Benefits for the period 1987 92 are no longer available as they have been routinely destroyed.
A statistically valid sample of payments is selected for accuracy checking and I have provided at Appendix E the percentage accuracy and error rates as requested. These figures are taken from the BA's Management Information Statistics. They do not tally directly with National Audit Office figures because they are derived from different forms of check.
The DSS/BA Fraud estimated benefit savings are set out at Appendix F. All the Appendices have been placed in the Library. I hope you find this reply helpful.
Appendix A-Losses due to irrecoverable and unrecovered overpayments of Income Support, and Family Benefits £000 Year |Supplementary |Family Benefits |Benefit/Income |Support ---------------------------------------------------------------- 1986-87 |31,987 |3,234 1987-88 |32,024 |2,718 1988-89 |41,112 |3,333 1989-90 |40,211 |3,901 1990-91 |28,608 |3,417 1991-92 |32,974 |3,908 1992-93 |44,576 |4,073 1993-94 |52,435 |3,730 |-------- |-------- TOTAL |303,927 |28,314 Source: 1986-1991 VOTE 2 Supplementary benefits/income support 1986-1991 VOTE 3 Family benefits 1991-1994 VOTE 1 Amalgamated pension benefits/income support/family benefits
Appendix B-Losses by category £000 |1992-93|1993-94 ----------------------------------------------- Mistake by beneficiary Income Support |7,216 |8,758 Family Benefits |2,564 |2,243 Mistake-other Income Support |22,007 |28,194 Family Benefits |496 |574 Fraud Income Support |15,353 |15,483 Family Benefits |1,013 |913
Appendix C-Irrecoverable and unrecovered overpayments by category-retirement pension £000 Year |Total |Mistake- Other |Mistake- Beneficiary|Fraud ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1988-89 |2,500 |1,942 |465 |93 1989-90 |2,676 |2,099 |536 |41 1990-91 |2,879 |2,368 |438 |73 1991-92 |3,474 |2,808 |587 |79 1992-93 |3,544 |2,820 |695 |29 Source: Management Information Statistics.
Appendix D-Irrecoverable and unrecovered overpayments by category-widows benefit £000 Year |Total |Mistake- other |Mistake- beneficiary|Fraud ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1988-89 |605 |449 |75 |81 1989-90 |535 |363 |119 |53 1990-91 |534 |397 |131 |6 1991-92 |610 |427 |175 |8 1992-93 |704 |497 |168 |39 Source: Management Information Statistics.
Appendix E-Benefit Errors: Percentages |1986-87|1987-88|1988-89|1989-90|1990-91|1991-92|1992-93|1993-94 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Supplementary Benefit/Income Support Per cent. Correct |90 |88.5 |90.5 |92 |94 |96 |94.5 |91 Per cent. Incorrect |10 |11.5 |9.5 |8 |6 |4 |5.5 |9 Child Benefit Per cent. Correct |98.5 |98.5 |98.5 |99 |98.5 |98 Per cent. Incorrect |1.5 |1.5 |1.5 |1 |1.5 |2 One Parent Benefit Per cent. Correct |96.5 |97 |97.5 |97.5 |96.5 |96 Per cent. Incorrect |3.5 |3 |2.5 |2.5 |3.5 |4 Family Credit Per cent. Correct |90 |92 |92.5 |91.5 |89 |92.5 Per cent. Incorrect |10 |8 |7.5 |8.5 |11 |7.5 Guardians Allowance Per cent. Correct |100 |100 |100 |100 |100 Per cent. Incorrect |- |- |- |- |- Retirement Pensions/Widows Benefits Per cent. Correct |96.5 |98 |98.5 |98.5 |99 |98.5 |98.5 Per cent. Incorrect |3.5 |2 |1.5 |1.5 |1 |1.5 |1.5 Source: Management Information Statistics.
Appendix F-Estimated fraud benefit savings £ million Year |Estimated benefit |savings ------------------------------------------------------ 1987-88 |196 1988-89 |262 1989-90 |309 1990-91 |341 1991-92 |447 1992-93 |558 1993-94 |654 Source: Management Information Statistics.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if it is intended that the habitual residence test should be applied by local Benefits Agency officers to those applying for asylum in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Roger Evans [holding answer 5 December 1994]: The application of the test to asylum seekers was unforeseen but has no practical effect on their benefit entitlement. We will correct the position at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will indicate the additional cost to his budget if the European Court of Justice upholds the Social Security Commissioner's decision of 1 April 1992 on the payment of invalidity benefit to women on their reaching pension age.
1. Figure expressed at 1994 95 prices, rounded to the nearest £5 million, and taking account of income related benefit costs and the introduction of incapacity benefit from April 1995.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the cost, in a full year, of full uprating of child dependency additions of all categories using their year of introduction as a base.
Mr. Roger Evans [pursuant to his reply, 12 December 1994, c. 542]: I regret that the notes accompanying the reply contained a typographical error. A further copy of the reply and a revised set of notes follows:
The estimated net cost would be £90 million in 1994 95.
1. The estimate has been calculated by:
(i) taking the child dependency increase (CDI) rate for the eldest child payable in 1948--the year of introduction--then
(ii) inflating that figure to take account of upratings from 1948 up to and including April 1994. The percentage rate of increase used is the same as that of personal Retirement Pension; then
(iii) deducting the rates of Child Benefit payable from April 1994 to arrive at the rates that would apply for both the eldest child and subsequent children; then
(iv) following conversion to an annual gross figure, applying an offsetting reduction on expenditure on income-related benefits. 2. The estimate excludes the cost of restoring Sickness Benefit, Maternity Allowance and Unemployment Benefit CDIs, which were discontinued with effect from November 1984.
3. The estimate has been rounded to the nearest £5 million and should be treated with caution owing to small sample sizes.