§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the number of recipients of(a) housing benefit, (b) income support, (c) family credit and (d) invalidity benefit in (i) Inverclyde, (ii) Strathclyde and (iii) Scotland as a whole; and the percentage of the eligible population in each area receiving such benefit in each of the last five years.
§ Mr. Burt
The administration of social security benefits is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Dr. Norman Godman, dated 26 July 1993:
As Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking what was the number of recipients of (a) housing benefit, (b) income support, (c) family credit and (d) invalidity benefit in (i) Inverclyde, (ii) Strathclyde and (iii) Scotland as a whole; and the percentage of the eligible population in each area receiving such benefit in each of the last five years.
The complete range of information you request is either not available or could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost. This is because statistics are not routinely collected to reflect the numbers of recipients over a given period. The statistics that are available show the number of recipients at a given point in time. In addition, statistics are not routinely collected for Inverclyde and Strathclyde in respect of Income Support, Family Credit and Invalidity Benefit. The figures available are for the Benefits Agency Districts covering these areas and, as the boundaries of these offices do not correspond exactly with those of the Inverclyde and Strathclyde areas, it would require a manual trawl of benefit records to obtain the information. The information that is available is in the attached appendix.
Finally, take-up figures for income related and Invalidity Benefit are not available on a regional basis. Estimates of the take-up of Income Support, Family Credit and the new unified Housing Benefit for Great Britain were published in "Income Related Benefit Estimates of Take-up in 1989" in January this year. Take-up estimates for the income related benefits that were available before the 1988 benefit reforms are for 1985 and 1987 and are provided in Social Security Statistics 1990 (Table 48) and Social Security Statistics (Table H.5) respectively. Copies of these publications are in the Library. Information for Invalidity benefit is not available.
I hope that you find this reply helpful. A copy will appear in the Official Report and a copy will also be placed in the Library.
APPENDIX TO PQ 3394 1992/93
Figures prior to May 1990 are not available since this information is routinely destroyed. This information has been supplied by the Family Credit Unit.1014W
Date Region Number May 1990 Inverclyde 911 Strathclyde 13,246 Scotland 33,462 May 1991 Inverclyde 1,051 Strathclyde 14,581 Scotland 36,252 June 1992 Inverclyde 1,345 Strathclyde 19,113 Scotland 46,501 May 1993 Inverclyde 1,690 Strathclyde 21,982 Scotland 52,830
This information has been provided by the Analytical Services Division of the Department of Social Security. The figures quoted are averages of the quarterly counts of Housing Benefit cases. Estimates have been included for those quarters where Local Authorities in Strathclyde failed to respond. Figures for Inverclyde have been rounded to the nearest hundred; the other figures are rounded to the nearest thousand. It is not possible to show the overlap with other benefits apart from Income Support.
Region Number (with IS) Number (without IS) Total 1988–89 Inverclyde 9,800 5,300 15,100 Strathclyde 168,000 104,000 272,000 Scotland 321,000 243,000 564,000 1989–90 Inverclyde 9,900 5,000 14,900 Strathclyde 159,000 109,000 268,000 Scotland 315,000 241,000 556,000 1990–91 Inverclyde 6,600 5,100 11,700 Strathclyde 155,000 112,000 266,000 Scotland 307,000 236,000 542,000 1991–92 Inverclyde 6,000 5,000 11,100 Strathclyde 151,000 115,000 266,000 Scotland 301,000 260,000 561,000 1992–93 Inverclyde 6,100 5,000 11,100 Strathclyde 154,000 111,000 266,000 Scotland 308,000 233,000 541,000
Figures for Inverclyde and Strathclyde are not available prior to May 1991 since this information is routinely destroyed. Figures for Scotland have been provided for the last five available years and have been rounded to the nearest thousand. This information has been supplied by the Analytical Services Division of the Department of Social Security in conjunction with Management Information Statistics.
Region Number April 1987 Scotland 135,000 April 1988 Scotland 147,000 April 1989 Scotland 158,000
Region Number March 1990 Scotland 169,000 May 1991 lnverclyde 6,487 Strathclyde 115,964 Scotland n.a. May 1992 lnverclyde 6,201 Strathclyde 132,237 Scotland n.a. May 1993 lnverclyde 6,627 Strathclyde 142,212 Scotland n.a.
Figures are not available for Inverclyde and Strathclyde prior to 1991 since this information is routinely destroyed. However, for Scotland as a whole, figures are available for the five year period requested, rounded to the nearest thousand. These figures have been provided by Analytical Services Division and are based on a 1 per cent. count. The information for Strathclyde and Inverclyde have been supplied by the Income Support Management Information Statistics.
Region Number May 1988 Scotland 499,000 May 1989 Scotland 486,000 May 1990 Scotland 481,000 May 1991 lnverclyde 15,617 Strathclyde 293,529 Scotland 487,000 May 1992 lnverclyde 15,971 Strathclyde 294,081 Scotland 519,000 May 1993 lnverclyde 16,595 Strathclyde 315,636 Scotland n/a
§ Mr. Janner
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will conduct a survey of waiting times for benefit claimants at benefit centres in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and place a copy of the results in the Library.
§ Mr. Burt
Waiting times in benefit offices are a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. and learned Member and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Greville Janner, dated 27 July 1993:
As Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security, asking if he will conduct a survey of waiting times for benefit claimants in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.1016W
There are no plans to conduct a survey of waiting times for benefit claimants in England, Wales and Scotland. A survey in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
The Benefits Agency is currently piloting an advanced-caller system that will enable staff to continuously monitor waiting times. The system will also alert staff if a customer has been waiting an unduly long time, or if there is an increase in the number of callers. This enables a decision on whether to deploy more reception staff to be made at an early stage. In addition, most offices now run their reception points as a fast stream service. Customers are seen and wherever possible their enquiries are cleared at the initial reception point.
I place great importance on listening to our customers. The Benefits Agency Customer Charter gives a commitment to actively seek, listen to and act on the views of our customers. Each District in the Agency tests customer opinion at least once a year to find out which aspects of the service are seen as most in need of improvement, so that resources can be targeted appropriately.
The Benefits Agency also commissions a national independent survey of its customers each year. One of the topics covered in the survey concerns the customer's perception of the length of time they have to wait in the office before being seen. A copy of the 1991 survey is in the Library.
I hope that this reply helpful. A copy will appear in the Official Report and a copy will also be placed in the Library.