HC Deb 16 December 1986 vol 107 cc460-2W
Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many applications for single payments were made during September 1986; how many of these were granted; what was the average payment to those granted; how many were rejected; how many have gone to appeal; and what were the corresponding figures for (a) May 1986 and (b) September 1985.

Mr. Major

Information on single payments is not available in the exact form requested as statistics are recorded at the time of the decision on the claim. Separate statistics are not kept on the number of single payment applications received each month.

National administrative statistics for social security appeals are summarised quarterly. The most recent statistics available are for appeals heard and decided in the three-month period ended 31 December 1985. The table

Single payment appeals
Three-month period ending
31 December 1984 30 September 1985 31 December 1985
per cent. per cent. per cent.
Number of appeals or referrals to social security appeal tribunals, or uncleared from previous period 33,124 33,892 37,813
Superseded on review 5,577 (16.8) 6,279 (18.5) 6,565 (17.4)
Withdrawn 3,382 (10.2) 3,374 (10.0) 3,560 (9.4)
Not submitted 208 (0.6) 237 (0.7) 230 (0.6)
Heard and decided by social security appeal tribunals 10,128 (30.6) 10,744 (31.7) 11,366 (30.1)
of which decided in claimants favour 2,566 1(25.3) 2,811 1(26.2) 3,110 1(27.4)
1 Those decided.

Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total number of payments made under the single payments system during the period 1 January to 3 June; what was the average payment made during this period; and what was the highest payment made to any one household or individual in this period; and what is the highest payment now possible under the revised regulations which came into force in August.

Mr. Major

The information requested on single payments for the period 15 January 1986 to 3 June 1986 (the nearest available dates to those asked in the question) is as follows:

  • Total number of single payments made, 2,165,271
  • Total amount paid, £156,184,947
  • Average payment, £72

Source: Four-weekly management information statistics (1986 provisional figures).

Information on individual payments is not kept at national or regional level and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

There is no absolute upper limit on the amount payable under the revised regulations which came into force in August 1986. The amount payable will depend, among other things on the numbers of members in the assessment unit and the items for which there is a need. These needs can vary depending on factors such as the health of the family members and/or the heating facilities in the accommodation occupied by the claimant.

Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will amend the supplmentary benefit single payment regulations which came into force in August in order to provide a greater flexibility for local offices to help families in need.

Mr. Major

No. The present regulations permit single payments to be made to claimants (including families) in a variety of circumstances; and allow adjudication officers some limited flexibility within the structure of a regulation based scheme. The Government recognise that a regulation-based scheme cannot by its nature cover all possible contingencies; and have already announced that the present system will be replaced from April 1988 by a social fund which should provide a greater degree of flexibility than exists at present.

shows the number of supplementary benefit single payment appeals and referrals registered with the social security appeal tribunals in each period, or uncleared from a previous period.

1985. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total cost of single payments made by his Department's local offices to those receiving help under the supplementary benefit system in September, October and November; and what were the figures for the comparable periods in (a) 1983, (b) 1984 and (c)

Mr. Major

The information requested is as follows:

Amount paid in single payments £ million (to nearest £0.1 million)
1983 1984 1985 1986
Four weekly MIS period ending
September 11.5 17.1 24.5 29.8
October 12.7 19.5 26.1 26.1
November 14.0 20.5 28.1 23.0
1 1986 figures are based on provisional data.

Source: Management Information Statistics

Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many letters he has received from (a) right hon. and hon. Members and (b) the general public concerning difficulty faced by individuals and families following the changes made in August to regulations concerning single payments under the supplementary benefit system.

Mr. Major

In the period 11 August 1986 to 9 December 1986, 45 letters were received from right hon and hon. Members on various matters connected with the single payment changes introduced on 11 August. Statistical information on letters from the general public about single payments is not kept in sufficient detail to record those letters specifically about the August changes.

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