§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. Roger Evans)
My right hon. Friend has no immediate plans to do so.
§ Ms Abbott
Is the Minister aware of the recent Public Accounts Committee report which revealed that the benefits of 266,000 claimants, out of a total of 5 million, were underpaid to the tune of £76 million? What will he do to ensure that the Benefits Agency does not penalise the poorest in our society by that sort of inefficiency, and when will he make the actual take-up of benefits a target for the Benefits Agency?
§ Mr. Evans
Ministers are of course aware of the Public Accounts Committee report. The Arcola street social security office has met all the main targets apart from, as the hon. Lady very properly mentions, those on income support accuracy. Our principal difficulty with income support accuracy statistics involves the issue of mortgage interest rates and their variation. That is why, with the agreement of those involved, we are introducing a standard rate that will be simpler to administer and that will lead to a much more satisfactory position.