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Unclaimed Benefits

Volume 14: debated on Thursday 3 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the total amount of Department of Health and Social Security benefits unclaimed for the following years (a) 1977–78, (b) 1978–79, (c) 1979–80 and (d) 1980–81.

Information is not available in the form requested.With regard to supplementary benefit, however, it is estimated that about £340 million may have gone unclaimed in 1977, the latest year for which information is available. This figure is from an analysis of the 1977 family expenditure survey. It is subject to a number of assumptions. The basis of these assumptions is described in the former Supplementary Benefits Commission's administration paper No. 7. A copy of that paper is available in the Library of the House. An estimate for 1979 should be available in the new year.The latest estimate of the take-up of family income supplement—FIS—has been derived from data emerging from the family finances survey. This survey was conducted over a period of 12 months from October 1978 to September 1979. The analysis suggested that the total amount of unclaimed FIS was of the order of £15 million in that period. Since November 1980, however, the average weekly intake of FIS claims has increased by almost one-third. It is hoped that this indicates some improvement in the level of take-up.The amount of unclaimed one-parent benefit has been estimated at about £20 million in each of the years 1979–80 and 1980–81. As weekly rate at which one-parent benefit is payable has been increased, this has reflected a modest improvement in the level of take-up.