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Social Security Benefits

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people made a successful claim to receive (a) housing benefit, (b) council tax benefit and (c) pension credit backdated for (i) three months, (ii) six months, (iii) nine months and (iv) 12 months in each the last five years. (200092)

The information requested is as follows:

Housing benefit and council tax benefit

The information is not available in the format requested because of the restrictions of the breadth and reliability of the data available.

As part of the Equality Impact Assessment covering changes to the time for claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit for pensioners and a change to the backdating period allowed within housing benefit and council tax benefit for working age customers, which is available on the DWP website, an estimate of the proportion of housing benefit and council tax benefit caseloads affected by the proposals is provided. There are, however, important caveats to these estimates which must be noted.

Figures on the number of claims that are successfully backdated are derived from the single housing benefit extract (HBSD-IAD scan). The backdating variable in the single housing benefit extract was introduced relatively recently (April 2007) and accordingly we have no means of corroborating how robust the data is against historical data. Furthermore, given that the data only goes back six months, there is an insufficient pool of evidence to derive reliable figures from the data. These concerns should be allayed with time as the scan data improves.

Based on the first six months of data available, it is estimated that approximately 0.2 per cent. of new housing benefit and council tax benefit claims would be affected. In absolute terms, this is approximately 3,000 housing benefit and 3,000 council tax benefit claims per year (in Great Britain). These figures may be subject to revision as more data become available and raw figures should be treated with caution given the nature of the data.

Pension Credit

The information is not available in the format requested. Precise information on the time customers take to claim pension credit (known as backdating) is not routinely collected. The information in the following table estimates the possible maximum extent of backdating by examining the difference between the date of first payment and date at which entitlement begins. In some cases where payment starts after entitlement the delay will be due to processing times, evidence gathering and verification work which routinely accompanies claims for pension credit.

Estimates of the number of claims for pension credit by backdating period between 2003 and 2006ThousandMonths of backdatingOctober 2003 to March 2004April 2004 to March 2005April 2005 to March 2006April 2006 to March 20070-3 months2,2201901701703-6 months16013020306-9 months16010109-12 months14012070Total on flows2,380610310280 Notes:1. Estimates of the number of claims by length of backdating period have been rounded to the nearest 10,000 cases2. Care should be taken when interpreting the table. The Department does not routinely collect information on backdating periods and these have been estimated by comparing information on the date entitlement starts and the data pension credit is put into payment. Estimated backdating periods therefore include unknown periods of time that are due to processing, evidence gathering and verification work which routinely accompany every claim for pension credit.3. Due to rounding the numbers of successful claims by period of backdating may not sum to the total number of successful claims.4. There will be people flowing onto pension credit that will have zero backdating. These cases will be captured in the 0-3 month group.Source:Experimental statistics of pension credit on flows.