§ Mr. Mallon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the extent of the delays currently affecting applications for family credit; and if he will take steps to ensure that all outstanding claims can be dealt with and completed before Christmas.
§ Mr. Ancram
Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Social Security Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Alec Wylie. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from Mr. A. Wylie to Mr. Seamus Mallon, dated 30 November 1993: 749WThe Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your Parliamentary Question about delays affecting Family Credit claims and if the outstanding claims can be cleared before Christmas.From April 1993 to October 1993 some 34,000 claims to Family Credit were received of which 89% were successful. The number of claims represents an increase of 21% over the same period last year. At the same time a new computer system for processing claims was introduced which brings a certain amount of disruption to the work and inevitably causes a slowdown in output during the first few months.A recovery programme has been introduced to deal with the outstanding claims and I am confident that by 31 January 1994 we will have brought the situation back to normal.I hope this explains the position for you and I am sorry for any inconvenience that has been caused to our customers.