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Benefits

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will update the information given to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) Official Report, 11 July 1978, columns 429–32 on benefits.

As I indicated in my reply to the hon. Member on 5 November 1979—[Vol. 973, c. 43]—the method of comparing supplementary benefit rates with earnings has now been changed from male manual workers to all male workers.Table 3.6 of the Supplementary Benefits Commission's annual report for 1978 in association with table 4.7 of its report for 1977 provides information on the movement over the years of supplementary benefit levels in relation to earnings for families of various sizes.This should give the hon. Member the information he wants for the years up to 1978. I shall send him the information for 1979 on the same basis as that for 1978 as soon as it is available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish the percentage take-up rate of each social security benefit by those eligible to claim them in Dundee, or the nearest administrative unit.

No information concerning take-up of social security benefits is available on a local basis and the only benefit for which any estimate is available other than for Great Britain is supplementary pension. As the hon. Member will see from page 105 of the annual report of the Supplementary Benefits Commission for 1978 (Cmnd. 7725), take-up of supplementary pension during 1976 in Scotland is estimated to have been 74 per cent., much the same as for the whole of Great Britain.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what savings would be made if pensions and other social security benefits were paid (a) fortnightly or (b) monthly.

Any estimates of savings arising from such changes would vary widely according to the assumptions made about the arrangements for changing the frequency of payment. My right hon. Friend will be making available information on this subject from the study of social security payment arrangements carried out in consultation with Sir Derk Rayner, and I shall write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the reasons which lie behind his statement about the possibility of providing for the payment of pensions, child benefit allowances and other social security benefits on a fortnightly or monthly basis instead of weekly as at present; and if he will make a statement.

About £250 million of taxpayers' money is spent each year on making individual social security payments. My right hon. Friend considered that this was an appropriate time to review, with the help of Sir Derek Rayner, the long-established arrangements for paying benefits to see whether taxpayers were getting good value for this money and if the public could receive a more efficient service.