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Spending Revisions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 25 November 1999, Official Report, column 197W, on spending revisions, if he will provide a breakdown of the savings arising from changing disability benefit caseloads broken down between the different disability benefits. [101063]

Mr. Darling: The information is in the table.

The figures are consistent with those published in the November 1999 pre-Budget Report, and show expenditure in Great Britain.

£ million
Attendance Allowance-45-114-161
Severe Disablement Allowance-28-50-71
Disability Living Allowance-131-330-545
Incapacity Benefit-47-90-142


1. The figures may not appear to sum due to rounding.

2. The forecast of expenditure on these benefits has used administrative data newly available since the forecast made for the March 1999 Budget. The new information on awards of the benefits indicated that estimates of future caseload levels should be lower than those underlying the Budget forecast.

Departmental Organisation

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he received the review of the work and organisation of his Department carried out by the permanent secretary at his Department; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [100913]

Mr. Darling: The departmental management study involves a wide-ranging programme of work which it is envisaged will continue for some time. I shall announce the conclusions in due course.

Payment Cards

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will place in the Library the results of the assessment of the recent Payment Card trials carried out by his Department in the North East and South West of England. [100914]

Mr. Rooker: As part of the BA/POCL project, limited trials of the Benefit Payment Card were conducted with 37,000 customers in 204 post offices in the north east and

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south west of England. In the trials, benefit payments were made using plastic magnetic stripe cards, the Benefit Payment Card, instead of outdated paper-based methods of payment. This was supported by a new automated system at post offices. The trials undertaken were limited to Child Benefit and were carried out to provide experience of live running and to inform later stages of the BA/POCL project, including a full scale live trial of all aspects of the Card method of payment and the technology to support it.

The project, which was commissioned in 1996, suffered a series of setbacks and delays and the key milestone of a full scale live trial of the Card was not delivered. There were concerns that the project was too complex and would be undeliverable and in May 1999, the Government announced a new way forward to achieve the original objectives of the project, while simplifying it and reducing risk. Under this approach, the Benefit Payment Card element of the project was removed and, from 2003 DSS will move from paper-based methods of paying benefits to payment by automated credit transfer, a more modern, secure and efficient method of payment.

It was clear that the Benefit Payment Card had added substantially to the complexity of the BA/POCL project, and hence to the delay that had occurred and that its continuation could only increase the risk of further slippage to the programme. There were also increasing concerns that even if the Benefit Payment Card could have been delivered, the magnetic stripe technology on which it was based looked increasingly outdated as banks and others turned their attention increasingly to smart card technology. This, together with the combination of a three year delay to the project and the escalating trend of people opting for payment by ACT, had substantially reduced the role that the Benefit Payment Card could expect to play.

Parental Benefits

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost of calculating entitlement to housing benefit and council tax benefit for non-resident parents on the basis of income net of any maintenance they have been assessed as liable to pay under the proposed new child support scheme. [101204]

Angela Eagle: We estimate that the cost of an income disregard for maintenance paid by non-resident parents in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit would be in the order of £30 million a year.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what benefits are available to support 19-year-old students who wish to remain in full-time secondary education at (a) maintained schools and (b) further education colleges. [101665]

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Angela Eagle: Most students who are undertaking a full-time course of study, whether in a maintained school, college of further education or elsewhere, are not entitled to benefits as a means of supporting themselves while studying. Primary financial support for students comes from the education student support systems. However, certain students in vulnerable groups, including disabled students and students who are responsible for a child are eligible to claim Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. In addition, partners of students, who are not full-time students themselves, may claim benefits on behalf of the couple, providing they satisfy the relevant criteria.

War Disablement Pensions

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many times over the last five years he has exercised his discretion in granting war disablement pensions in cases where claimants failed to make claims within three months of termination of service. [101667]

Mr. Bayley: The administration of War Pensions Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Gordon Hextall. He will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Gordon Hextall to Mr. David Crausby, dated 9 December 1999:

    The War Pensions Agency does not keep statistics relating to the information that you require. This information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

    It may help if I were to explain that the legislation under which such pensions are awarded is Schedule 3, Article 65 of the Naval, Military and Air Forces (Disablement and Death) Service Pensions Order 1983. This provides that where a claim is not made within 3 months from termination of service, payment of pension shall not be made for any period before the date of claim, unless the Secretary of State's discretion is used.

    The Secretary of State's discretion is only used in exceptional circumstances where it is considered reasonable to do so. Examples would be where there has been Departmental error or misdirection, or where the claimant was prevented by illness from, or had some other good reason for, not claiming earlier. The Agency considers the individual merits of each case when considering the claim.

    I hope this information is helpful. If you need any further information, I will be happy to assist.

Retirement Pensions

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners are currently in receipt of a United Kingdom state pension in (a) the USA and (b) the EU, excluding the UK; and if he will estimate how many (i) United States citizens and (ii) citizens of the EU, excluding the United Kingdom, who are domiciled in the United Kingdom are in receipt of a retirement pension from their country of origin. [102124]

Mr. Rooker: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.

The number of overseas pensioners who were in receipt of a United Kingdom State Retirement Pension or Widow's Benefit at July 1999 is estimated at 110,000 in the USA and

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222,000 in the EU (excluding UK). At September 1999 there were some 23,000 former US residents in the UK receiving US retirement or widow's benefits.

    Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.

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