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Disability Living Allowance

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (Mrs. Heal) on 10 January 2000, Official Report, column 5, if he will estimate (a) how many people will benefit and (b) what the cost will be of extending eligibility to Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance to people who pay the full cost of their care in local authority care homes; and if he will provide a breakdown of people in local authority care homes by (i) age and (ii) who is paying the cost of their care. [105074]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the tables.

Estimated cost of extending DLA Care/AA eligibility to self-financiers in local authority owned/managed residential care homes

Estimated number of gainersEstimated additional benefit expenditure £ million


The estimated costs and numbers of gainers are approximate and subject to a large margin of error given the limitations of the available data

Breakdown by age of local authority care home residents

AgeNumber of residents
Under age 6510,783


1. Provided by Department of Health annual return RAC5. Relates to 1996 which is the last year for which data collected. Relates to England only.

2. 61,943 residents of local authority staffed homes were supported by a local authority, but it is not known how the remaining 2,066 residents funded their care fees

(13) .


(14) Information provided by Department of Health return SR1 relates to 1996, this being the last year for which data was collected. Relates to England only.

Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost in 1999-2000 of (a) administration and (b) publicity for the winter fuel payments scheme. [104686]

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Angela Eagle: The administration costs for making winter fuel payments this winter (1999-2000) were in the region of £14 million.

To ensure that pensioners were not worried about turning up their heating this winter it was necessary to inform them of the increase in the amount of the payments and to remind them that they were on their way. This required a major publicity campaign--the costs of which were in the region of £620,000.

Industrial Injuries Benefit

Mr. White: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to change the system whereby Income Support is recovered from recipients of Industrial Injuries Benefit. [104840]

Mr. Bayley: There are no plans to change the system of recovering amounts of Income Support paid pending the payment of other benefits, such as Industrial Injuries Benefit.

Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the legal advice he received that clause 49 of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights under the Human Rights Act 1998; [104991]

Angela Eagle: The proposals in clause 49 are compatible with UK obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. In arriving at this conclusion we have considered a number of issues, which are discussed below.

The obligations under Article 6 of the Convention (the right to a fair trial) are complied with as those affected by this measure will have a right of appeal to an independent tribunal in respect of the decision to withdraw or reduce benefits and the magistrates or Crown Court will establish the facts of the alleged breach, as now.

Article 7 (no punishment without law) does not arise as the measure (even if it was regarded as criminal in nature) will only apply to those given community sentences after this Bill has become law and been commenced. There will be no retrospection.

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Although the exchange of information between the Probation Service and the Benefits Agency may raise issues under Article 8, on privacy, the exchange proposed is the minimum necessary to achieve the legitimate aims of matching benefit rights to responsibilities.

In considering any question in relation to Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) these proposals are to be seen as part of the reform of the welfare state on the basis of a contract between the citizen and the state, whereby rights to benefits and responsibilities to society are more closely linked. Our concern is not only to achieve better compliance with community sentences, but to reflect the view that it is not fair that offenders who breach community sentences should have the same rights to benefits as those who comply. People who do comply would not lose financially, nor would those who claim no rights to benefits. Benefits are conditional on the fulfilment of responsibilities to society. It therefore does not breach Article 14 by any unjustified different treatment of those on benefits compared with others. Any different treatment as may arise is justified as it has an objective aim that is in the public interest, as set out above.

Article 1 of the First Protocol (protection of property) does not apply to all Social Security benefits, although contributory Jobseeker's Allowance may be regarded as a "possession" for the purposes of this Article. This proposal to withdraw benefit in these limited and specified circumstances is justifiable as it is in the public interest, striking a fair balance between the interests of the community and those of the individual, and will be provided for by law.

The advice tendered by our legal advisers is internal policy advice and is not normally disclosed under Exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Debt Recovery

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress he has made in developing the Debt Accounting and Management System for debt recovery; and when he expects the system to be operational. [104659]

Angela Eagle: The administration of benefits is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Frank Field, dated 17 January 2000:

    The Debt Accounting and Management system was intended to provide a means of accounting for and assisting in the control and management of benefit overpayment debt.

    Development of the solution was based on a commercially available software package. Once work was underway, it became clear that because of the complex nature of BA business processes that this would not be feasible as originally envisaged. It was agreed that it would be more appropriate to incorporate this into the wider work being carried out as part of the Departmental Modernisation Programme.

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    The decision not to proceed with DAMS resulted in the need for a different solution to the difficulties surrounding benefit debt accounting and management.

    The Strategic Debt Solution Project was initiated to draw on the knowledge gained from DAMS and to provide a set of solutions that would allow the BA to progress to a strategic solution that supports a wider debt management requirement.

    The aim of the Strategic Debt Solution [SDS] Project is underpinned by six high level objectives:

    1. Over the lifetime of the solution, to contribute towards meeting Resource Accounting and Budgeting [RAB] requirements by making stepped improvements

    2. To report Benefit debt balances as accurately as possible, in the absence of an integrated end to end debt management and accounting system

    3. To implement, maintain and monitor a range of internal controls within the debt management process

    4. To identify a strategic solution for debt management and accounting working in conjunction with the Departmental Modernisation Programme

    5. To raise the profile of debt management and improve debt management capability

    6. To optimise the investment to date and any future spend

    An Options Appraisal is currently being carried out in order to identify the solution that most effectively meets these aims and objectives. The Options Appraisal involves identifying and confirming:

    The weaknesses of the current debt management and accounting processes and systems

    The high level requirements for improved processes and systems

    The various options available for meeting these requirements

    The completion of the Options Appraisal is planned for April 2000. The detailed requirements for the preferred option will then be developed in a Full Study, which will be completed by August 2000.

    I hope this is helpful.

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