§ Mr. Mallon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in how many cases ex-gratia payments have been made in respect of claims for family credit; and what were the criteria on which such ex-gratia payments were made.
§ Mr. Hanley
Only one ex-gratia payment has been made since the introduction of family credit in April 1988.
An ex-gratia payment is made where the Department of Health and Social Services is satisfied that an officer has wrongly advised a person and this has resulted in loss of benefit; where a person has provided all the information required but the Department of Health and Social Services failed to take the necessary action; and where it is clear that a person gave the Department of Health and Social Services information that indicated prima facie entitlement to benefit but the Department failed to follow it up.