§ Mr. Dalyell
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will increase the discretion of local managers of benefits offices to allow those who may be currently required to appear in person to collect benefit, to be paid their benefit by post. 
§ Mr. Field
In order to safeguard public funds, each individual claimant's case is considered on its own merit. There are no plans to amend this regulation. As the administration of Social Security benefits is a matter for the Benefits Agency, I have asked its Chief Executive, Peter Mathison, to write to the hon. Member directly and for his reply to be published with the answer.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Tom Dalyell, dated 30 June 1997:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking if she will increase the discretion of local managers of benefit offices to allow those who may be currently required to appear in person to collect benefit, to be paid their benefit by post.The manner in which benefit is paid is determined by a Benefits Agency officer acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. These officials have a duty to safeguard public funds and to ensure that the customer receives the benefit to which they are entitled. There are circumstances where officials may consider it necessary for a customer to collect their benefit in person. These may be where the customer has an unsafe postal address or is homeless.A customer's individual circumstances are always considered when the payment method is determined. There are no plans to change the level of discretion an officer acting on behalf of the Secretary of State has in determining whether a customer is required to collect their benefit in person.I hope you find this reply helpful.