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Benefits

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the number of recipients of (a) housing benefit, (b) income support, (c) family credit and (d) invalidity benefit in (i) Inverclyde, (ii) Strathclyde and (iii) Scotland as a whole; and the percentage of the eligible population in each area receiving such benefit in each of the last five years.

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 with such information as is available and a copy will be placed in the Library.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Dr. Norman Godman, dated 26 July 1993:

As Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking what was the number of recipients of (a) housing benefit, (b) income support, (c) family credit and (d) invalidity benefit in (i) Inverclyde, (ii) Strathclyde and (iii) Scotland as a whole; and the percentage of the eligible population in each area receiving such benefit in each of the last five years.

The complete range of information you request is either not available or could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost. This is because statistics are not routinely collected to reflect the numbers of recipients over a given period. The statistics that are available show the number of recipients at a given point in time. In addition, statistics are not routinely collected for Inverclyde and Strathclyde in respect of Income Support, Family Credit and Invalidity Benefit. The figures available are for the Benefits Agency Districts covering these areas and, as the boundaries of these offices do not correspond exactly with those of the Inverclyde and Strathclyde areas, it would require a manual trawl of benefit records to obtain the information. The information that is available is in the attached appendix.

Finally, take-up figures for income related and Invalidity Benefit are not available on a regional basis. Estimates of the take-up of Income Support, Family Credit and the new unified Housing Benefit for Great Britain were published in "Income Related Benefit Estimates of Take-up in 1989" in January this year. Take-up estimates for the income related benefits that were available before the 1988 benefit reforms are for 1985 and 1987 and are provided in Social Security Statistics 1990 (Table 48) and Social Security Statistics (Table H.5) respectively. Copies of these publications are in the Library. Information for Invalidity benefit is not available.

I hope that you find this reply helpful. A copy will appear in the Official Report and a copy will also be placed in the Library.

APPENDIX TO PQ 3394 1992/93

Family Credit

Figures prior to May 1990 are not available since this information is routinely destroyed. This information has been supplied by the Family Credit Unit.

Date

Region

Number

May 1990Inverclyde911
Strathclyde13,246
Scotland33,462
May 1991Inverclyde1,051
Strathclyde14,581
Scotland36,252
June 1992Inverclyde1,345
Strathclyde19,113
Scotland46,501
May 1993Inverclyde1,690
Strathclyde21,982
Scotland52,830

Housing Benefit

This information has been provided by the Analytical Services Division of the Department of Social Security. The figures quoted are averages of the quarterly counts of Housing Benefit cases. Estimates have been included for those quarters where Local Authorities in Strathclyde failed to respond. Figures for Inverclyde have been rounded to the nearest hundred; the other figures are rounded to the nearest thousand. It is not possible to show the overlap with other benefits apart from Income Support.

Region

Number (with IS)

Number (without IS)

Total

1988–89

Inverclyde9,8005,30015,100
Strathclyde168,000104,000272,000
Scotland321,000243,000564,000

1989–90

Inverclyde9,9005,00014,900
Strathclyde159,000109,000268,000
Scotland315,000241,000556,000

1990–91

Inverclyde6,6005,10011,700
Strathclyde155,000112,000266,000
Scotland307,000236,000542,000

1991–92

Inverclyde6,0005,00011,100
Strathclyde151,000115,000266,000
Scotland301,000260,000561,000

1992–93

Inverclyde6,1005,00011,100
Strathclyde154,000111,000266,000
Scotland308,000233,000541,000

Invalidity benefit

Figures for Inverclyde and Strathclyde are not available prior to May 1991 since this information is routinely destroyed. Figures for Scotland have been provided for the last five available years and have been rounded to the nearest thousand. This information has been supplied by the Analytical Services Division of the Department of Social Security in conjunction with Management Information Statistics.

Region

Number

April 1987

Scotland135,000

April 1988

Scotland147,000

April 1989

Scotland158,000

Region

Number

March 1990

Scotland169,000

May 1991

lnverclyde6,487
Strathclyde115,964
Scotlandn.a.

May 1992

lnverclyde6,201
Strathclyde132,237
Scotlandn.a.

May 1993

lnverclyde6,627
Strathclyde142,212
Scotlandn.a.

Income Support

Figures are not available for Inverclyde and Strathclyde prior to 1991 since this information is routinely destroyed. However, for Scotland as a whole, figures are available for the five year period requested, rounded to the nearest thousand. These figures have been provided by Analytical Services Division and are based on a 1 per cent. count. The information for Strathclyde and Inverclyde have been supplied by the Income Support Management Information Statistics.

Region

Number

May 1988
Scotland499,000
May 1989
Scotland486,000
May 1990
Scotland481,000
May 1991
lnverclyde15,617
Strathclyde293,529
Scotland487,000
May 1992
lnverclyde15,971
Strathclyde294,081
Scotland519,000
May 1993
lnverclyde16,595
Strathclyde315,636
Scotlandn/a

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will conduct a survey of waiting times for benefit claimants at benefit centres in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and place a copy of the results in the Library.

Waiting times in benefit offices are a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. and learned Member and a copy will be placed in the Library.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Greville Janner, dated 27 July 1993:

As Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security, asking if he will conduct a survey of waiting times for benefit claimants in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There are no plans to conduct a survey of waiting times for benefit claimants in England, Wales and Scotland. A survey in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The Benefits Agency is currently piloting an advanced-caller system that will enable staff to continuously monitor waiting times. The system will also alert staff if a customer has been waiting an unduly long time, or if there is an increase in the number of callers. This enables a decision on whether to deploy more reception staff to be made at an early stage. In addition, most offices now run their reception points as a fast stream service. Customers are seen and wherever possible their enquiries are cleared at the initial reception point.

I place great importance on listening to our customers. The Benefits Agency Customer Charter gives a commitment to actively seek, listen to and act on the views of our customers. Each District in the Agency tests customer opinion at least once a year to find out which aspects of the service are seen as most in need of improvement, so that resources can be targeted appropriately.

The Benefits Agency also commissions a national independent survey of its customers each year. One of the topics covered in the survey concerns the customer's perception of the length of time they have to wait in the office before being seen. A copy of the 1991 survey is in the Library.

I hope that this reply helpful. A copy will appear in the Official Report and a copy will also be placed in the Library.