HC Deb 01 November 1993 vol 231 cc81-2W
Mr. Hinchliffe

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans there are to set down charter standards for take up of benefits.

Mr. Burt

There are no such plans.

Social Security legislation puts the onus on the individual to claim benefit. Some people choose not to claim. It would be inappropriate to set targets or standards for something which is a matter of personal choice. The Government's role is to ensure that the availability of benefits is made known and to provide advice on eligibility.

In this respect, we have recently launched a major advertising campaign to explain how in-work benefits can help families back to work and opened a family credit telephone helpline. The Benefits Agency is responsible for a number of initiatives to increase awareness of entitlement including exhibitions, talks and multi-lingual telephone helplines.

Mr. Hinchliffe

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what consideration has been given as to whether a tax credit system for paying benefits is feasible and would be more effective at delivering benefits.

Mr. Hague

There has been no recent serious considerations of a tax credit scheme as a means of delivering Social Security benefits. A tax credit scheme as sometimes proposed would not replace the need for income-related benefits which take account of family size and housing costs, and would be less responsive in dealing with short-term financial needs. We have, instead, concentrated on developing simpler tax and benefit regimes which reduce overlaps between the two systems and provide help to those in need whilst maintaining the incentive to work.

Mr. Hicks

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he intends to undertake a review of the notional return on a person's investments for assessment for benefit entitlements; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Burt

In all the income-related benefits, capital up to £3,000 is ignored. The formula applied for capital above this figure does not imply any particular return on investments. It ensures that help is targeted to those who need it most, while not denying benefit to those with only a moderate amount of capital. The rules are kept under review, but we have no plans for change.

Mr. Bradley

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what information he has as to which EC countries have provisions enabling benefits to be reclaimed in the same way as under section 22 of the Social Security Act 1989.

Mr. Scott

The information requested is not held by the Department and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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