HC Deb 11 March 1999 vol 327 cc344-6W
Mr. Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for each social security benefit(a) how many pieces of information must be provided in order to make an initial claim for benefit, (b) how many separate pieces of documentation must be provided in order to make an initial claim and (c) how many person-hours are on average required to process a single initial claim. [75945]

Angela Eagle

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is set out in the tables.

Section 19 of the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997 makes benefit entitlement conditional upon a benefit claimant providing sufficient information for a NI No. for themselves and anyone else included in the claim to be traced and confirmed as appropriate to them.

It provides powers to disallow a claim if identity cannot be established or confirmed. The Benefits Agency (BA) has introduced new procedures for checking identities thoroughly using the powers in the fraud Act; this commenced on a rolling programme from 1 December 1997.

All claims to benefit must either be made in writing on a properly completed claim form relevant to the individual benefit being claimed, or in such other written manner that the Secretary of State will accept. The length and complexity, and therefore the amount of information required, varies from benefit to benefit and depends on an individual's personal circumstances. It is not possible to quantify exactly how many pieces of information must be provided.

The volume of documentation is similarly dependent on the individual benefit. For those customers on Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance who are subject to the Evidence Requirement (ER) the claim form makes it clear which documents are required for a customer to satisfy that requirement. These include details of current and previous wages, any capital held, ground rent and service charges payable, details of any self-employment and any occupational pensions or other income which is received.

For those customers not subject to the ER it is for the Adjudication Officer to decide the amount of documentation required in order that when deciding upon the claim they can make a sound and reasoned decision thus protecting public funds.

Information on the time taken to clear a claim is in the tables.

Average time taken to clear a claim in person hours
Benefit Mins Hours Volumes Total hours
1 Income Support (IS)
1a) mortgage 38.28 0.64 173,400 110,976
1b) self employed 60.00 1.00 40,900 40,900
1c) people from abroad 53.59 0.89 27,700 24,653
1d) habitual residence test 58.20 0.97 30,600 29,682
1e) others 31.33 0.52 1,493,800 776,776
Total for IS 1,766,400 982,987


Average IS claim 33.6 mins

Average time taken to clear a claim in person hours
Benefit Mins Hours
2 Jobseeker's Allowance 51.33 0.86
3 Incapacity Benefit 44.58 0.74
4 Severe Disablement Allowance 180.84 3.01
6 Maternity Allowance 95.83 1.60
7 Retirement Pension (RP) Districts 76.04 1.27
8 Widows Benefit 113.56 1.89
9 Disablement Benefit (Dis Ben)
9a) Dis Ben Normal 67.63 1.13
9b) Dis Ben Accident 85.52 1.43
9c) Dis Ben Rea 98.47 1.64
10 Family Credit 47.74 0.80
11 DLA normal 147.2 2.45
Average time taken to clear a claim in person hours
Benefit Mins Hours
12 DLA special 86.08 1.43
13 AA normal 130.31 2.17
14 AA special 69.88 1.16
15 ICA 116.74 1.95
16 DWA 100.38 1.67
17 War Pensions 332.78 5.55
18 War Pensions (Widows) 636.65 10.61
19 Child Benefit
19a) Child Benefit New 35.39 0.59
19b) Child Benefit Duplicate 92.35 1.54
19c) One Parent Benefit 53.70 0.90
20 Pensions in Directorate
20a) International Liaison Claim 224.40 3.74
20b) Widows Benefit 484.37 8.07
20c) RP claim 327.08 5.45


DLA—Disability Living Allowance; AA—Attendance Allowance; ICA—Invalid Care Allowance; DWA—Disability Working Allowance.