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Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people collect benefits from post offices in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the UK. [103559]

Pursuant to my written answer given to Parliamentary Question 103559 of 20 March 2003, Official Report column 911W information available on the number of people that receive benefits by a method of payment collectable from post offices as at 25 January 2003 is in the table. Included in these figures are customers paid by Girocheque. Girocheques are encashable either at a post office or they can be paid into a bank or building society account.Some customers who are paid direct into an account can also collect their benefit in cash at post offices through network banking arrangements at the post office. There are no data available on the number of benefit claims collected in this way.

Total benefit

Payable at post

Jarrow constituency35,91126,511
South Tyneside68,88651,931
North East1,073,900747,964
Great Britain21,641,05112,456,733


1. People in receipt of more than one benefit may have those benefits combined to a single benefit account. Figures are in terms of these accounts.

2. Figures for Great Britain are for England, Scotland and Wales. Information for Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Office.

3. The 'Payable at post offices' column represents customers who have their benefit paid either entirely by paper method, or at least one of their benefits is by paper if they are receiving a combination of benefits and some are being paid direct.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received about the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (State Pension Credit) Regulations. [109434]

The Department began consultation with the Local Authority Associations on the draft Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (State Pension Credit) Regulations in mid-November. The consultation exercise ended on 7 January. Formal responses to the consultation were received from the Local Government Association and the Association of London Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the savings to public funds from ending benefit book payments to beneficiaries.[108326]

The move to payment directly into bank and building society accounts assures a safe, convenient, more modern and efficient way of paying benefits and will bring substantial savings in administration and encashment costs.However, the final figure will depend upon the choice made by the customer when choosing their payment method.