§ Mr. Laurence Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many claims for Winter Fuel Payments remain unpaid(a) nationally and (b) in Gloucestershire; what factors underly non-payment; what steps are being taken to ensure that these payments are quickly made; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Rooker
[holding answer 5 March 2001]: The administration of benefits is a matter for Alexis Cleveland, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. She will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Laurence Robertson, dated 8 March 2001:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many claims for winter fuel payments remain unpaid (a) nationally and (b) in Gloucestershire; what factors underly non-payment; what steps are being taken to ensure that these payments are quickly made; and if he will make a statement.As you may be aware, around 11 million people have benefited from Winter Fuel Payments this winter. All automatic payments, where entitlement was established, were made before Christmas 2000. All payments in respect of successful claims determined by 9 November 2000 were also made before Christmas 2000.It was made clear in our information campaign that, to guarantee payment before Christmas, claims had to be made before 22 September 2000.To enable as many people as possible to get their payment before Christmas another payment schedule was added to the operational plan so that claims determined by 9 November would also be paid before Christmas.406WApproximately 70,000 claims that were determined after 9 November and before 15 January are due to be paid during the first two weeks in March.A further 33,000 payments will be made in April 2001 and any remaining will be made in June 2001. Claims for this winter must be made by 31 March, therefore the June payment schedule is necessary.It is not possible to make all payments on successful claims immediately. We must ensure that the right amount of money is paid to the right person. To enable the correct amount of Winter Fuel Payment to be determined various payment processes which can take a little time, are necessary. I am sure you will agree that it is prudent to make sure that people receive the right amount.However, we are doing everything possible to ensure that claims for Winter 2000 are processed and paid within the shortest timescale available.Unfortunately, information you ask for is not available at constituency level.I hope this is helpful.