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SOCIAL SECURITY

Fraud

14. Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he is taking to tackle fraudulent social security claims. [19712]

Mr. Heald: Our strategy, including the additional measures announced by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Social Security on 5 March, Official Report, columns 164-68, is set to save the taxpayer £1.5 billion next year.

18. Mr. Day: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what incentives he is giving local authorities to combat fraud. [19716]

Mr. Heald: Local authorities are rewarded for successfully detecting housing benefit and council tax benefit fraud through the anti-fraud financial incentive scheme. The scheme allows authorities to earn additional cash subsidy through successful detection of fraud, as measured against their weighted share of a national threshold. I am stepping up the incentives by ear-marking £8 million for challenge funding to encourage innovation

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in fighting fraud, strengthening the financial regime by providing higher rates of return for better performing authorities, and increasing the penalties for those which are failing to tackle fraud seriously.

20. Miss Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people have been prosecuted as a result of Operation Rattle. [19718]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To date, there have not been any prosecutions as a result of Operation Rattle which was launched in November 1995.

Pensioner Incomes

15. Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to introduce a guaranteed minimum income for pensioners above the current income support levels; and if he will make a statement. [19713]

Mr. Heald: We have no plans to introduce a guaranteed minimum income which would have the effect of extending means-testing to all pensioners.

Mrs. Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners who have an income of less than 20 per cent. of average male earnings. [19710]

Mr. Heald: In 1993, there were around 650,000 pensioner households with an income below that level.

Mr. Forman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of pensioners are in the least well off fifth of the population; and what the figure was in 1979. [19885]

Mr. Heald: The information is in the table.

Percentages of pensioners in the bottom 20 per cent. of the overall United Kingdom income distribution
Percentages

Before housing costsAfter housing costs
19794746
1992-932520

1. The information in the tables is derived from the 1979 and 1992-93 households below average income datasets. 1992-93 is the latest date for which information is available. Figures for 1992-93 are for two calendar years data combined.

2. Figures are based on the standard households below average income definition of income--weekly household disposable income adjusted for household size and composition (equivalised). These particular results are especially sensitive to the choice of equivalence scale. For example, results before housing costs vary between 32 per cent. and 54 per cent. in 1979, and 19 per cent. to 30 per cent. in 1992-93. However, results present a similar picture of changes over time, regardless of which particular equivalence scale is used. Further information on equivalisation and tests for sensitivity to choice of equivalence scale is given in Appendix 4 of households below average income 1979 to 1992-93.

3. All estimates are subject to sampling error.


Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners in Scotland (a) are dependent on income support and (b) have an income less than £10 above income support levels. [20067]

Mr. Heald: The information is not available in the format requested. Pensioners are defined as men aged 65 and over and women aged 60 and over. The number of

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pensioners in Scotland who are dependent on income support is 176,000, as at May 1995. This figure has been rounded to the nearest thousand and it represents customers and partners over pension age who are dependent on income support.

Information on the number of pensioners who have income less than £10 above the income support levels is not collated.

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the proportion of pensioner's income taken up by (a) housing costs and (b) council tax, broken down by (i) quintile and (ii) region. [20013]

Mr. Heald: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

Estimated proportion of income spent on housing costs and council tax
Percentage

Q1Q2Q3Q4Q5
Pensioner couple
Housing costs13151053
Council tax65432
Single pensioner
Housing costs172127207
Council tax85542
All pensioners
Housing costs151821115
Council tax75542

Notes:

1. Reliable data for a breakdown by region (using the 12 standard regions) cannot be given due to limited sample size.

2. The data have been separated into information on single pensioners, pensioner couples and all pensioner benefit units. A pensioner benefit unit is defined as a single person over state pension age or a couple where the husband, or head, is over state pension age.

3. The figures are the estimated percentages, given to the nearest percentile, of the proportion of unequivalised net income taken up by housing costs and council tax liability for single pensioners, pensioner couples and all pensioner benefit units.

Source:

Pensioners' income series 1993, based on 1993 family expenditure survey.


Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what has been the change in the mean income of pensioners in (a) the lowest and (b) the highest quintile in each region of the United Kingdom since 1979. [20218]

Mr. Heald: The information is not available in the format requested.

For the UK as a whole, the estimated mean income of the lowest quintile of pensioner benefit units has risen by 21 per cent. in real terms since 1979. For the highest income quintile this figure is 68 per cent.


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Benefit Recipients (Newham)

16. Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many individuals in the London borough of Newham are in receipt of social security benefits. [19714]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: The available information on locally paid benefits is set out in the table:

CaseloadsCounts taken
London borough of Newham area:
Housing benefit39,640August 1995
Council tax benefit33,460August 1995
Unemployed
claimants signing on 17,368January 1996
Benefits Agency Newham district area:
Income support50,018November 1995
Incapacity benefit7,311January 1996
Maternity allowance124January 1996
Severe disablement
allowance 850January 1996

Notes:

1. Information on the numbers receiving centrally paid pensions and benefits is not available.

2. Some individuals will be in receipt of more than one benefit.

3. Unemployed claimants includes those on income support, unemployment benefit and those signing on for credits only.

Sources:

Benefits Agency central data unit, Employment Service regional office informzttion unit and DSS HB/CTB management information system.


Low-Income Families

19. Mr. Hinchcliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he is taking to ensure that the benefit system assists the families on the lowest incomes. [19717]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: The Department maintains a comprehensive system of income-related benefits which are effective in focusing help on low-income families. Some 85 per cent. of income-related benefit expenditure goes to households in the bottom 40 per cent. of the income distribution and around a fifth of all social security expenditure goes to families with children.


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