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Benefits Payment

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has for an exceptions service for elderly and disabled people who are unable to receive their benefits by direct payment. [117298]

We have always recognised that there will be a small group of people who we cannot pay directly into an account and the Department is committed to developing an alternative method to pay this group.We have analysed a range of options and currently a cheque based solution accommodates most known requirements, however further research with Specific Interest Groups and customers will inform the final decision.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether benefits paid directly into and held in (a) Post Office card accounts, (b) basic bank accounts and (c) other bank accounts are disregarded for the purposes of calculating entitlement to benefits; and if he will make a statement. [117586]

In the context of income-related benefits, resources are either income or capital. In general, any benefit paid to a person is treated as income for the period to which the payment relates, and is therefore not subject at that time to the capital rules for income-related benefits. Any unspent income after that period would be treated as capital and subject to the normal capital rules. This applies regardless of the method of payment or type of bank account into which the benefit is paid.Some payments of arrears of benefit are classed as capital but are subject to a full disregard for 52 weeks from the date they are received.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 3 June 2003, Official Report, column 50W, on benefit order books, what criteria will be applied to determine whether a person will qualify for the exceptions service through being unable to open or manage an account; and if he will make a statement. [118186]

Our plan is to design the exceptions service to properly meet the needs of the small minority of our customers, who are unable to open or manage an account This will be based on an understanding of the problems such customers will face. We will closely monitor the way the new Direct Payment arrangements work in practice and work with customer representative groups to design a secure and efficient service which meets the needs of those customers who cannot manage accounts.