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Departmental Offices (Interviews)

Volume 205: debated on Monday 9 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what warning is given to clients by Department of Social Services offices and benefit agencies about the consequences of failure to attend an appointment; and if he will make a statement.

The administration of social security benefits is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member and copies will be placed in the Library and the Public Information Office.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his policy on suspension of benefit for clients who are unable to attend interviews with Department of Social Services offices or benefit agencies; and if he will make a statement.

Under regulation 37 of the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987, benefit may be suspended when a question arises as to whether the claimant continues to be entitled to benefit; whether the award should be revised; or whether an appeal to a higher appellate body ought to be brought against an award made by an appeal tribunal. The decision to suspend should always be made in the light of the circumstances of the individual case.Suspension will not normally be appropriate when a claimant fails to attend an interview at an office of the Department. However, where facts are known that indicate that an award ought to be revised or terminated and the interview is intended to allow the claimant to provide evidence as to continuing entitlement, suspension of some or all of the award may be appropriate.