HC Deb 19 January 1981 vol 997 cc54-5W
Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in view of his acceptance of the report of the National Insurance Advisory Committee (Cmnd. 8117) and in the light of his decision on the Marenco case., he will take steps to secure the social security benefit rights of persons in the hotel and catering industry lost because of the employers' failure to pay the correct national insurance contributions; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Chalker

The National Insurance Advisory Committee recommended that in future service charges should attract liability for contributions, however they are allocated. The Department has contacted leading organisations in the hotel and catering industry to tell them that my right hon. Friend has accepted this recommendation. A new leaflet, (N1232) has been issued for the industry explaining the position fully, and this is now available in local offices. Inspectors will take advantage of visits to employers in the industry to advise them on the legal position, to let them have a copy of the leaflet, and to check that they are paying contributions on the correct basis.

So far as past underpayments are concerned, the action to be taken to correct benefit entitlement was explained in my reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) on 8 August.—[Vol. 990, c. 285–86.] The Department has included in its new leaflet a reminder that individuals who are worried about possible loss of benefit entitlement should contact their local social security office. Although the Department depends in the first instance on individuals coming forward, when an inspector investigate any individual case he will include in his investigation any other employees in the business where it is clear, from the records of the employer or the troncmaster, that their benefit entitlement may have been significantly affected. Individual accounts will then be adjusted where necessary. Inspectors will similarly take retrospective action when discovering underpayments in the course of their routine checks. Where arrears of benefit are due as a result of an adjusted account, these will be paid.