asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how much money has been recovered from widows alleged to have been cohabiting between 1974 and 1976;(2) how much money is spent upon attempting to recover money paid to widows suspected of cohabitation.
I regret that this information could not be provided without disproportionate cost.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much benefit is estimated to have been overpaid to widows suspected of cohabitation between 1974 and 1976.
National insurance widow's benefit can only be said to have been overpaid in such cases where it has first been decided by the insurance officer that the widow was drawing widow's benefit during a period when she was living with a man as his wife. Money overpaid as a consequence of such decisions amounted to £95,000 in 1974, £147,000 in 1975 and £197,000 in 1976.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many widows in receipt of State benefit and accused of cohabitation were represented at local national insurance tribunals and appeals to the National Insurance Commissioner between 1974 and 1976; and how many of these representatives were legally qualified.
Information relating to representation before national insurance local tribunals is not available. In the oral hearing of appeals before the National Insurance Commissioner where cohabitation was in question widows were represented in four cases in 1974; five cases in 1975; and one case in 1976. The representative was legally qualified at one hearing in each year.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what percentage of appeals by widows accused under the cohabitation rule before the supplementary benefits tribunal and the national insurance local tribunal, respectively, during the years 1974, 1975 and 1976 were successful; and how many were represented.
In appeals to supplementary benefits appeal tribunals where cohabitation was in question, 16 per cent. of widows were successful in 1974; 21 per cent. in 1975; and 16 per cent. in 1976*. 149 widows were represented in 1974; 135 in 1975; and 161 in 1976*.In appeals to national insurance local tribunals where cohabitation was in question, 30 per cent. of widows were successful in 1974; 32 per cent. in 1975; and 37 per cent. in 1976. Information relating to representation before National Insurance Local Tribunals is not available.
* First nine months only.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, what is the average length of time during which widows who had their books withdrawn upon suspicion of cohabitation were without their books; and how many who eventually appealed had their order books returned, for the years 1974, 1975 and 1976.
The length of time a widow may be without her national insurance widow's benefit order book before a decision is reached in such a case will depend on the particular circumstances, but is unlikely to exceed three months. Those who appealed successfully against the withdrawal of their national insurance benefit, and, therefore, had their order books returned, numbered 33 in 1974; 31 in 1975; and 63 in 1976.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many widows accused of cohabitation and having had their pension books withdrawn appealed to the National Insurance Commissioner in the years 1974, 1975 and 1976.
There were seven such appeals in 1974; 15 in 1975; and 11 in 1976.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what percentage of widows accused under the cohabitation rule exercise their right to have their case heard by an independent tribunal.
Where national insurance benefit is concerned, the average over the past three years has been 12 per cent. of the widows involved.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many widows had their order books withdrawn on suspicion of cohabitation between 1974 and 1976.
The number of national insurance benefit order books withdrawn from widows on these grounds was 829 in 1974; 1,013 in 1975; and 999 in 1976.