HC Deb 15 April 1991 vol 189 cc99-100W
Mr. John Garrett

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out in theOfficial Report the number of people refused unemployment benefit in the Norwich area under the availability/actively seeking work rules since April 1990, the number of claimants in Norwich on income support who have had benefit penalties imposed through the use of the availability/actively seeking work rules since April 1990, and the number of social fund applicants in Norwich who have been refused loans in the last financial year because of local social fund budget restraints.

Mr. Jack

The information concerning income support recipients in the Norwich area who have had benefit penalties imposed through the use of the availability/ actively seeking work rules is not kept and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Statistics on unemployment benefit adjudication are not separately identified for Norwich. To indicate trends, figures are provided at table 1 for the East Midlands and Eastern region, which includes Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Nottinghamshire. The information is collected quarterly for the purpose of publication in the "Unemployment Benefit Statistics—Quarterly Analysis of Decisions of Adjudication Officers", a copy of which is available in the Library. Monthly figures are not separately available.

Information on the number of people being refused social fund loans because of local social fund budget restraints is not collected. Table 2 shows the number of applications refused at the Mountergate and Chantry Norwich offices because they were considered to be for items of insufficient priority.

Social fund officers are required to take account of the local guidance on priorities, provided by the office manager, and they are further required to view each and every case on its merits having regard to the needs and circumstances of the customer. Wherever possible the social fund officer will look to elevate the overall priority of the application to ensure that payment is made. I understand that the managers of the Norwich local offices have written to the hon. Member separately on the subject of local guidance on priorities, and they will notify him of any future changes to this guidance.

Table 1
Adjudication Statistics—East Midlands and Eastern Region (From April 1990)
Decisions of Adjudication Officers
Subject Period ending Allowed Disallowed
Availability June 90 317 490
September 90 291 657
December 90 337 555
Restricted availability June 90 400 149
September 90 385 141
December 90 436 115
Actively seeking work June 90 8 17
September 90 14 12
December 90 20 10
Table 2
Social Fund Loan Refusals for the Norwich Mountergate and Chantry Offices (Period 1 April 90–28 February 91)
Refusals due to Low Priority
Budgeting Loans Crisis Loans
Mountergate 180 0
Chantry 1,229 1