§ Mr. Morgan
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will specify the length of time that records of claims for part III accommodation benefit payments, completed application and claim forms are kept(a) in their original form, (b) on microfiche or (c) in any other form in either the DSS Benefits Agency local office concerned, or in a central registry; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Burt
The administration of income support 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.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Rhodri Morgan, dated 30 March 1994:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking about the length of time that records of Part III benefit payments, completed application and claim forms are retained by the Benefits Agency (BA).
Claim forms from customers in Residential Accommodation (Part HI) are treated in the same way as Income Support (IS) claim forms from other customers. Payments to customers in these circumstances are not recorded separately.
The BA policy on the destruction of documents requires all IS cases to be examined at certain times and unnecessary documents to be destroyed. This policy represents an attempt to balance the needs of customers against the administrative expense 1024W of keeping all documents indefinitely. Instructions are in place advising staff not to destroy claim forms while active enquiries into the case are ongoing. Clerical records are normally kept for a minimum of 18 months after a claim goes dormant and then destroyed.
Part III benefit payments are recorded in the same way as IS payments. Order book records are held for 3 years and girocheque copy sheets are held centrally for 12 months and then destroyed.
This procedure is relevant to all BA offices including Benefit Centres who have Remote Storage facilities. Details on IS claims are not retained on microfiche.