HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc109-11W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many winter fuel payments have been made in respect of last winter; how many of the payment cheques issued have not been cashed; and how many payments are still due to be paid; [928511

(2) if he will list the number of winter fuel payments and their value made in each month in the current year. [928531

Mr. Timms

The administration of Winter Fuel Payments is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. David Willetts, dated 23 July 1999: The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent parliamentary questions asking how many winter fuel payments (WFP) have been made in respect of last winter; how


  1. 1. Figures are from a 1 per cent. sample of claims to Incapacity Benefit made in Great Britain.
  2. 2. A person may commence or leave benefit more than once during a year.
  3. 3. Figures are for all rates of Incapacity Benefit (IB). Incapacity Benefit replaced Sickness Benefit and Invalidity Benefit from 13 April 1995.
  4. 4. Figures for IB spells terminating during the period includes recipients who automatically transfer to State Retirement Pension.
  5. The table below gives the number of Incapacity Benefit recipients in local authority areas in Tyne and Wear, Durham, Northumberland and the former county of Cleveland as at the end of February each year from 1996 to 1998. Comparable figures are not available for 1995.

many of the payment cheques have not been cashed and how many payments are still due to be paid. You also asked if he would list the number of winter fuel payments (and their value) made in each month in the year. I am unable to provide all of the information in the format requested, as this would only be available at disproportionate cost. The Benefits Agency (BA) does not collect statistics on the number of uncashed payments. Delivery of the payments was broadly similar to the previous winter and about 10 million payments were automatically issued last winter to eligible customers. This figure does not include those customers who were identified as entitled to a WFP at a later date because of a retrospective award of a qualifying benefit or those whose benefits were maintained clerically. Approximately 1.4 million £50 payments were issued automatically to pensioners receiving Income Support (IS) or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) by the end of November 1998. A further 8.6 million £20 or £10 payments were issued to other eligible pensioners by the end of January 1999. Around 3.4 million of the £20 or £10 payments were issued via Automated Credit Transfer to the customer's bank account, 5.2 million were sent to Post Offices for issue along with the weekly pension payment and the remainder issued via girocheque or payable order directly to the customer's address. BA records indicate that payments have been issued to all customers where the information held suggested entitlement. BA offices will investigate claims from customers who may have expected a payment, but did not receive one, if they contact the office which normally deals with their pension or benefit. Approximately 113,000 of the payments issued to Post Offices were returned to BA offices without being cashed. Staff investigated the reason for non-collection (for example, death of the pensioner or prolonged hospitalisation); the vast majority of these have now been re-issued. I hope this is helpful.

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