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Claimants (Order Books)

Volume 961: debated on Wednesday 31 January 1979

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many foils in claimants' order books were marked cancelled in 1978.

Cancelled foils are extracted and destroyed before order books are issued to beneficiaries. No record is kept of how many are cancelled.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many claimants' order books were printed in 1978; how many were distributed; and what was the average level of stocks held at all social security offices.

More than 50 million order books were printed in 1978 and about the same number were distributed. There are no stocks where books are

YearNumber of bulk thefts of claimants' order books from social security officesNumber of order books stolenEstimated potential value*
£
1974NilNilNil
197541,956723,320
197621,456688,000
19772444214,500
19781374,000
* This figure is based on the printed value on weekly foils (if known) or on the maximum foil value where blank order books were stolen

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps are taken to recover stolen claimants' order books; how many such order books were reclaimed in each of the past five years; and what was their potential value in each year.

It would not be in the public interest to disclose full details of the steps taken to recover order books stolen from claimants. However, there are long-standing arrangements between my Department and the Post Office, designed to indentify and recover stolen order books and thus prevent fraudulent misuse. The Department's prime objective is to prevent fraud and therefore these arrangements and, indeed, the general procedures for order book issues and payments are continuously under review. In particular, as mentioned in the second report of the Co-ordinating Committee on Abuse, published on 11 January this year, improved procedures have been introduced for dealing with the loss and replacement of locally issued order books and the circumstances in which the Post

printed, assembled and issued by computer; elsewhere stocks vary according to the scale of use, and are limited to the minimum needed to meet operational requirements.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many bulk thefts of claimants' order books from social security offices there have been in each of the past five years; how many books thereby have been stolen; and that was their potential value.

The last figures available for thefts of order books from social security offices are as follows:Office of payment specified on an issued book can be changed.Thefts from and losses by individual claimants arise in a wide variety of circumstances, and the work involved in keeping a central record of the books recovered and their potential value, would not be justified.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many claimants' order books were either lost or stolen in each of the past five years; and what was their potential value in each year.

The Department records all losses of order books either on the way to, or after receipt by, the payee. The figures, excluding bulk thefts of order books which are recorded separately, are as follows:

ORDER BOOK LOSSES—ALL BENEFITS (excluding bulk thefts)
Year
197381,638
197480,735
197592,396
197686,938
197796,928

It is not possible to give a meaningful figure of the potential value of these books for the following reasons:

  • (1) the number of weekly payment foils contained in each individual claimants' order book varies with the type of benefit involved and with the number of foils already cashed;
  • (2) the rates of payment vary according to the benefit payable and the individual claimant's circumstances; and
  • (3) the maximum foil limit on weekly payments varies according to the type of benefit.