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Contributions Agency

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many subject access requests were received by the Contributions Agency in (a) 1995-96, (b) 1996-97, (c) 1997-98 and (d) 1998 to date; and if she will make a statement. [47367]

Mr. Denham: The number of subject access requests received by the Contributions Agency is:

YearRequests
1995-9613,229
1996-9722,586
1997-9827,242
1998 to date5,993

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment she has made of delay caused by the introduction of the new computer at the Contributions Agency; and if she will make a statement. [46752]

Mr. Denham: The introduction of the new computer system at the Contributions Agency is a matter for George Bertram, the Chief Executive of the Contributions Agency. He will write to my hon. Friend with further details.

Letter from Alan Fisher to Mr. Peter L. Pike, dated 25 June 1998:






Benefit Fraud

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will place a copy of the code of practice, which relates to data matching by her Department with respect to benefit fraud, in the Library. [47368]

Mr. Field: The use of data matching is an important weapon in the fight against benefit fraud. We are now looking to extend this technique across Government through the use of powers contained in the Social Security

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Administration (Fraud) Act 1997. We want to extend data matching in a way which places significant additional obstacles in the path of fraudsters whilst at the same time ensuring that citizens' rights are properly protected. Consequently, these powers will not be used until the DSS Code of Practice for Data Matching has been published.

We will be seeking the views of Liberty and the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux on the draft Code of Practice. We shall also be placing a copy of the consultation document in the Library of the House, and the views of hon Members will be most welcome.

We anticipate that the Code will be published by early October.

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans she has to use data matching techniques with respect to benefit fraud which require access to medical records, as provided for by the Audit Commission Bill 1998. [47369]

Mr. Keith Bradley: The Audit Commission Act 1998 does not confer powers on my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State to gain access to medical records,

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whether in support of a data matching exercise or otherwise.

Action Zones

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will list the initiatives undertaken by her Department since 1 May 1997 which have involved the establishment of (a) action zones and (b) pilot schemes limited to particular geographical areas, indicating the name of the programme and the action zone or pilot scheme areas covered in each instance. [47059]

Mr. Keith Bradley: Area based initiatives, including Action Zones and pilot schemes, which place a premium on local partnership and co-ordination are a key feature of many of our plans for the future. They also form the basis of much of the progress we have made in improving services and targeting facilities, resources and opportunities.

We are involved in a number of centrally sponsored pilot schemes throughout the country and these are listed. In addition, local managers are encouraged to develop initiatives in partnership with local authorities that promote improved services for the customer.

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Centrally sponsored pilot schemes

Pilots/prototypesAimAreas
Pensioner pilots(43)To test the best ways of getting Income Support to those who are currently entitled but do not claim their entitlement; and to experiment with administrative improvements in the delivery mechanism to prevent future Entitled Non Recipients (ENRs)York, East Renfrewshire, Lambeth, South Staffordshire, Stroud, Preston, Glasgow, Torbay and Torfaen
Teleclaims service(43)To enable claims for Retirement Pension to be made over the telephone using an IT based claim formGreater London
New Deal for Lone Parents(43)Lone parents on Income Support are offered advice and support on job search, childcare, benefits and training to help them make the move into work. The service is provided on a one-to-one basis by Personal AdvisersStarted July/August 1997 in Cambridge, Cardiff and Vale, Clyde Valley, North Cheshire, North Surrey, North Worcestershire, Sheffield East and Warwickshire Extended nationwide on 6 April 1998 to lone parents making a new claim for Income Support
Integrated Services Prototype (DSS/LA)(43)To offer a one stop service combining DSS and local government services. April to October 1998Lewisham Council, the local Benefits Agency in Lewisham, South London and Belfast Benefits Centre (to which work from Lewisham BA is re-located)
Integrated Service Prototype (Lone Parent)(43)To handle lone parents income support, child support and housing needs together by offering a teleclaims service; April to October 1998Benefits Agency Chilterns South Directorate using a remote processing centre (Glasgow Benefits Centre) linked to four London offices; Ealing, Acton, Euston and Highgate in partnership with the London Borough of Camden
ADAPT ProjectADAPT project was established to deliver phased approach to involvement of the private sector. The first phase entails a period of partnership between 3 private sector consortia and 3 BA Area DirectoratesYorkshire, East London and Anglia and West Country
Payment CardDevelopment of a new method of paying benefits by automating post officesNewcastle and Gloucester
Personal Account SecurityTo reduce the incidence of identity fraud and reduce the opportunity for the NINO to be abusedEdinburgh City BA District office and Highriggs ESJ, Newcastle (Saxon House), Rotherham South, Liverpool (Crosby), Worksop/Worksop ESJ. Chilterns South
Electronic Government InitiativesSeries of initiatives testing the delivery of departmental business using electronic meansLondon, Norwich, Cumbria, Bristol, York, West Country
Remote Access TerminalsTo provide advice and benefit information to the public from local authority outletsOver 20 locations throughout the country
Better Government for Older PeopleLocal pilot projects to improve public services for older peopleStirling, Newcastle, Wolverhampton, Harrow and Exeter
Edinburgh LA and BA ProjectJoint Benefits Agency/Local Authority project looking to improve liaison and communication through modernising Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit proceduresEdinburgh
Earnings Top-upTo explore the effects of an in work benefit aimed at encouraging people without dependent children to take up and stay in workEight pilot areas including Newcastle, part of Yorkshire, North Wales, Southend, Sunderland, Doncaster, Bournemouth and part of Scotland

(43) Indicates initiatives that have commenced since 1 May 1997


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Housing Benefit

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will make a statement on her policy in relation to benefit payments in respect of housing being purchased under rental purchase schemes; and if she will make a statement. [47194]

Mr. Keith Bradley: Provisions already exist, within the Housing Benefit scheme, to cover payments under rental purchase agreements.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average housing benefit paid per dwelling by region for (a) council housing, (b) housing associations and (c) private rented properties. [47204]

Mr. Keith Bradley: The latest information available is set out in the table.

£
Rent rebateRent allowance
RegionLocal Authority TenantsHousing Association TenantsPrivate Tenants (excluding Housing Association)
North East30.7043.6048.10
North West34.5045.8053.90
Merseyside37.5042.8050.10
Yorkshire and Humberside29.1050.2046.80
East Midlands32.2048.5044.90
West Midlands34.7046.1051.40
Eastern37.0048.5057.40
London50.3063.7081.10
South East41.1051.4063.70
South West36.8048.2053.50
Great Britain36.2049.3058.40
England37.2051.1059.50
Wales 34.2042.2047.80
Scotland31.5034.6051.00

Note:

Average weekly amounts have been rounded to the nearest 10 pence

Source:

Housing Benefit Management Information System 100 per cent. caseload counts taken November 1997


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