HC Deb 21 July 1999 vol 335 cc545-6W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many pensioners have suffered unreasonable delays in receiving contributory benefits as a result of NIRS2 problems; [92193]

List of Health Authority and National Health Service Trust appointments which expired in 1998 and for which no appointment had been made by 1 July 1999
Region Body No. of chairs No. of non-executives
North West Liverpool Women's Hospital National Health Service Trust1 0 1
Wirral Hospital NHS Trust2 0 1
Northern and Yorkshire Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority3 0 1
London Croydon Community Health NHS Trust4 0 1
Enfield Community Care NHS Trust5 0 1
Trent Grantham and District Hospital NHS Trust6 0 1
South West Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust7 0 1
West Midlands Walsall Community Health NHS Trust8 0 1
Total 0 8
1 In January, the Trust decided that they wanted to review their establishment with aim of possibly reducing the number of board members from five to four. At the end of April the Trust made the decision to stay with five board members. A collective decision was made that in trying to identify candidates that recommendations should go at the same time as recommendations to fill the November appointment.
2 Submission to fill the vacancy sent to Minister on 8 June 1999. Delay in putting forward recommendations due to Chairmanship not being filled until March and wanting to take in to account new chairman's views on possible recommendations.
3 Vacancy has been outstanding since June 1998. RO have been searching for suitable female candidates to put forward after discussing the requirements with the local chair. Have now identified suitable candidates who are meeting the local chairman informally later this month. A submission will go forward after local discussions are complete.
4 New chairman appointed 1 December 1998—taking opportunity to assess the strength and weaknesses of the board before considering candidates for this vacancy.
5 Minister indicated that he wanted ethnic minority candidate to consider for the remaining vacancy on this board. Suitable candidates specific to the local area are still being identified.
6 When making the submission in November 1998 there were three appointments which came to an end plus on ad-hoc vacancy that needed to be filled. Regional Chairman recommended that only two of the four posts be filled. This would allow them to identify other suitable candidates coming forward from the national ad. Given that the Trust are now likely to merge the vacancy is being held open pending possible merger.
7 Region have been searching for a suitable candidate to put forward. A submission was sent to Ministers on 6 July with candidates to fill the vacancy.
8 Minister asked in last round for ethnic candidate to be put forward for consideration. There are few ethnic candidates on RO database and have been trying to find suitable candidates to put forward. Submission sent to Minister on 6 July.

(2) how many pensioners have so far received £10 compensation as a result of NIRS2 problems; and how many are still due to receive payment. [92194]

Mr. Timms

NIRS2 was originally due to be operational by February 1997. Delays in completing the system have inconvenienced many benefit claimants.

The number of pensioners who have suffered significant delays because of the NIRS2 problems may be up to 285,000.

The number of pensioners who have received £10 compensation as a result of NIRS2 problems, to 30 June, is 166,989. The total number of pensioners entitled to the £10 compensation payment will not be known until all cases have been reviewed.

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