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Benefit Payments (Post Offices)

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what representations he has received about the impact of changes in the way social security benefits are paid on the viability of post offices; [101376]

Mr. Rooker: We have received a number of such representations. Ministers and officials in this Department have had a number of discussions with their counterparts in the Department of Trade and Industry about the planned move to automated credit transfer for the payment of benefits.


Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate (a) the number and (b) the percentage of pensioner benefit units receiving income support in each of the last 10 years; if he will provide his estimate for the remainder of the public expenditure planning period; and if he will provide separate figures for single and married pensioners. [101079]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 2 December 1999]: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the tables.

6 Dec 1999 : Column: 373W

Pensioner benefit units receiving Income Support (private households) Great Britain, (1987-99)

YearIS pensionersPercentageCouplesPercentageSinglePercentage
May 19881,598,00019.5281,0007.81,317,00028.5
May 19891,461,00017.7233,0006.41,229,00026.5
May 19901,514,00018.2247,0006.51,267,00027.9
May 19911,381,00016.5211,0005.51,170,00025.7
May 19921,419,00017.0227,0005.91,192,00026.5
May 19931,503,00017.6266,0006.71,237,00027.1
May 19941,538,00018.3279,0007.21,259,00027.8
May 19951,555,00018.6284,0007.21,272,00028.5
May 19961,533,00018.3279,0007.11,254,00028.5
May 19971,486,00017.5263,0006.51,223,00027.5
May 19981,433,000n/a251,000n/a1,182,000n/a
May 19991,405,000n/a244,000n/a1,161,000n/a


1. Pensioner benefit units in private households exclude claimants in Residential care and Nursing Homes.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand, percentages given to one decimal place.

3. Figures refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or couple.

4. Income Support for the unemployed was replaced by Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance from October 1996. Income Support figures from 1997 exclude unemployed.

5. Pensioners are defined as benefit units where either the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 or over.

6. Income Support figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample up to 1993 and a 5 per cent. sample thereafter.

7. All Percentages are Income Support benefit units expressed as a proportion of all pensioner benefit units (private households).

8. The percentages quoted are based on pensioner benefit units estimates for Great Britain private households taken from the Family Resources Survey (FRS) for 1993-94 to 1997-98 and the Family Expenditure Survey HBAI datasets from 1988 to 1992.

9. FRS estimates are based on sample counts that have been adjusted for non-response using multi-purpose grossing factors that control for region, Council Tax Band and a number of demographic variables. Estimates are subject to sampling error and to variability in non-response.

10. Details of all pensioner benefit units are not yet available for 1999 therefore no percentage is given for this year.


1. Income Support Statistics Annual Enquiries, May 1987-May 1993.

2. Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiries, May 1994-May 1999.

3. Family Resources Survey.

4. Family Expenditure Survey HBAI datasets from 1988 to 1992.

6 Dec 1999 : Column: 375W

Forecasts for Income Support pensioner benefit units

Pensioners (thousand)1999-20002000-012001-02


Information on the population of pensioner households in the period 2000-02 is not available, therefore we are unable to provide an estimate of the percentage of Income Support pensioner benefit units for this period.


PBR Forecasts November 1999 based on data up to May 1999.

CSA Reform

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his oral statement of 29 November 1999, Official Report, column 5, if he will list the pieces of information which are currently required in order to assess liability for child maintenance; and if he will identify which of these will be required under his proposed reforms. [101036]

Angela Eagle: The current child support formula requires a wide range of information to be obtained, not only about the financial and family circumstances of the parents involved but also about their new partners. This can include details of their income from earnings, benefits or other sources, housing costs (such as mortgages, rent, service charges, council tax, home improvement loans, property and loan insurance), travel to work costs and clean break property settlements.

The new child support rates will require information to be obtained only about the non-resident parent's income and the number of children for whom he is responsible. The definition of what is to count as income will also be considerably simplified as set out in Annexe Two of the White Paper "Children's Rights and Parent's Responsibilities" (Cm. 4349) published on 1 July 1999.

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his written answer of 29 November 1999, Official Report, column 51W if the proposed amendment to Section 6(1) of the Child Support Act 1991 will apply in cases where a claim for income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance proves to be fraudulent. [101130]

Angela Eagle: As now section 6(1) of the 1991 Act will apply where a parent with care claims or is paid Income Support or income based Jobseeker's Allowance. If the payment of benefit subsequently turns out to have been fraudulent, section 6(1) will only cease to apply when payments stop.


Car Theft

23. Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to reduce the number of car thefts; and if he will make a statement. [99698]

6 Dec 1999 : Column: 376W

Mr. Charles Clarke: On 22 September, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary launched the Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team strategy document. That strategy is intended to deliver the Government's 30 per cent. vehicle crime reduction target by the end of March 2004.

Police (Crime Prevention)

25. Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to encourage an increase in the proportion of time spent by police officers on fighting crime. [99701]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The deployment of police officers is the operational responsibility of Chief Constables. However, the introduction of best value into the police service from April next year and the requirement that year on year efficiency savings of 2 per cent. must be recycled into front-line policing should allow Chief Constables to allocate more officers to the essential job of reducing crime.

Information Technology systems being delivered under the National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) and new radio technology for the police being provided as part of the Public Safety Radio Communications Project (PSRCP) will do much to free officers from administrative burdens.

The NSPIS Custody application draws much of the criminal history information required for effective administration of those in custody automatically from the Police National Computer, saving police time, effort and paperwork. The NSPIS Case Preparation system is designed to produce all the information needed by the police, courts, Crown Prosecution Service and other bodies to process cases automatically. This, too, will substantially reduce the administrative burden on police officers, freeing them for front line duties. Holmes 2 harnesses modern technology to make the best use of police resources used in the investigation of major crimes. NSPIS Crime automates the recording of crime reports, saving effort in compilation and making them easier to use in crime management and intelligence led policing. The National Management Information System (NMIS) provides an integrated set of tools to deliver the information commanders at all levels need to manage their resources as efficiently as possible to meet performance targets. NMIS will also enable data to be collected on a common basis to a standard format making it easier to collate and compare at the national level. This will reduce the burden on the police in producing returns and help Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in their work.

The NSPIS applications will be interlinked so that information can be shared electronically, and transmitted to front line officers via the new Public Safety Radio Communication System. These new applications will help free officers from the burden of paperwork and free them for front line duties.

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