HC Deb 12 July 1999 vol 335 cc61-2W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will specify the matters, other than those relating to the NIRS2 computer system, in respect of which his Department has paid compensation to members of the public since May 1997. [90540]

Mr. Timms

The reasons for which compensation payments have been made to members of the public, other than those relating to the NIRS2 computer system, since May 1997, are as followsExtra-statutory payments: made in respect of defective legislation where the law has not reflected the original intention of Ministers. In addition, payments have been made as a result of Departmental maladministration where any of the following have occurred: Actual financial loss: made in respect of losses incurred by customers as a direct result of maladministration; Delay: made for the loss of use of money arising where payments have been unreasonably delayed (payment made has been in the form of interest on the arrears due); Gross inconvenience: as a result of persistent Departmental error; Gross embarrassment, humiliation or unnecessary personal intrusion; Severe distress, where maladministration has had a serious impact on a customer's physical or mental health; and Loss of statutory entitlement: where entitlement to benefit has been lost due to maladministration or official error.

Where maladministration occurs the Department aims to restore the person to the position that he or she would have been in but for that maladministration. Payments have been made by DSS agencies as a result of maladministration under all the categories listed.

Payments made from 1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999 by Agency are as follows:

Type of payment Number of payments
Benefits Agency
Extra-Statutory 1,333
Actual Financial Loss 3,836
Delay 2,496
Consolatory1 300
Loss Of Statutory Entitlement 1,879
Total 9,844

Type of payment Number of payments
Contributions Agency
Extra-Statutory 1
Actual Financial Loss 653
Delay 2,635
Consolatory1 95
Loss Of Statutory Entitlement 1
Total 3,385
Child Support Agency
Extra-Statutory 170
Actual Financial Loss 4,264
Delay 1,144
Consolatory1 4,235
Loss Of Statutory Entitlement 0
Total 9,813
War Pensions Agency
Extra-Statutory 1,210
Actual Financial Loss 8
Delay 191
Consolatory1 3
Loss Of Statutory Entitlement 2
Total 1,414
Independent Tribunal Service
Extra-Statutory 0
Actual Financial Loss 21
Delay 2
Consolatory1 12
Loss Of Statutory Entitlement 0
Total 35
1Consolatory payments consist of payments made under the categories of gross inconvenience, gross embarrassment, humiliation, unnecessary personal intrusion and severe distress.

A copy of the Department's guide to special payments, known as the "Financial Redress for Maladministration" is held in the House of Commons Library.