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Social Security Benefits: Postal Services

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what recent discussions he had held with Royal Mail on redirecting benefit-related communications sent by his Department; and if he will make a statement; (253490)

(2) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness in reducing benefit fraud and error of the agreement with Royal Mail to redirect benefit-related communication sent to customers by his Department.

[holding answer 3 February 2009]: The Secretary of State has not held any recent discussions with Royal Mail regarding redirection of benefit related mail by his Department.

The Department has not made any recent assessments of the effectiveness of the agreement between Royal Mail and the Department to redirect benefit-related communications.

However, responses from a recent local authority survey and discussions with local authorities’ representatives suggest that it acts as an effective deterrent against fraud.

The Do Not Redirect agreement between Royal Mail and DWP is an anti-fraud measure that applies specifically to local authorities’ housing benefit and council tax benefit correspondence.

I would also like correct previous answers given regarding this matter—16 October 2008, Official Report, column 1376W and 29 January 2009, Official Report, column 698W, do not make clear that the agreement with Royal Mail relates to local authority housing benefit and council tax benefit only. It does not apply to any of the benefits administered by the DWP. I apologise to my hon. Friend for this error.