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Benefits Agency

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many times the Benefits Agency has overruled decisions made by the appeals tribunal in the last three years. [155955]

Angela Eagle: The Benefits Agency cannot overrule decisions made by tribunals.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has for the phasing in of existing CSA cases when the new method of calculating maintenance liabilities is introduced; and what plans he has to cushion large rises and falls in maintenance liabilities in such cases. [156137]

Angela Eagle: The new child support scheme will be introduced for new cases by April 2002. Existing cases will be transferred across once it is seen to be working well and getting maintenance paid regularly and reliably.

For parents with existing child support assessments, new liabilities will be phased in stages of £2.50, £5 or £10, depending on the weekly income of the non-resident parent. These levels have been set to give parents whose liability under the new scheme will differ markedly from their current child support assessment time to adjust to the new arrangements.

National Insurance

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list his Department's responsibilities in respect of (a) the national insurance scheme and (b) other aspects of national insurance in (i) 1979 and (ii) at present. [156096]

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Mr. Rooker: As in 1979 the Department remains responsible for matters relating to national insurance benefits and pensions. Responsibility for matters relating to national insurance contributions (apart from policy on the reduced rates and rebates payable in respect of contracted-out pensions) was transferred to the Inland Revenue by the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, Etc.) Act 1999.

Appeals Service

Mr. Nicholls: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what has been the average clearance time for appeals against benefit assessments in each of the last four years; [155885]

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Angela Eagle: The administration of appeals is a matter for Neil Ward, Chief Executive of the Appeals Service. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Neil Ward to Mr. Patrick Nicholls, dated 29 March 2001:

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Appeals receivedAverage clearance time for appeals from lodgement at first tier agency In weeksNumber of appeals heard and decidedNumber of appeals found in appellant's favour
1 May 1997 to 30 April 1998300,38925.2158,838(32)50,466(32)
1 May 1998 to 30 April 1999316,39530.3282,53598,516
1 May 1999 to 30 April 2000247,29431.4207,72475,810
1 May 2000 to 30 September 2000108,87928.870,56428,668

(32) Figures include appeals not held on the GAPS system for the period 1 July 1997 to 31 December 1997.


1. Information taken from 100 per cent. download of the Generic Appeals Processing System (GAPS).

2. The table covers appeals from all sources. It is not possible to distinguish appeals against benefit assessments.

3. Figures may change as later data becomes available.

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Housing/Council Tax Benefit

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the total expenditure is on (a) Housing Benefit and (b) Council Tax Benefit for pensioners with an income of less than £210 per week. [153789]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 15 March 2001]: The estimated Housing and Council Tax Benefit expenditure attributable to pensioners--defined as Benefit Units with at least one person aged 60 or over--with an income of less than £210 per week is £3,865 million and £1,140 million respectively, in 1999-2000, in Great Britain.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to allow registered social landlords to undertake elements of Housing Benefit administration. [156684]

Angela Eagle: We have secured agreement with all interested parties to involve registered social landlords in certain aspects of the Housing Benefit verification process. This builds on our commitment to improve Housing Benefit administration.

Our intention is to run a pilot in a number of areas, and we will shortly be inviting expressions of interests from local authorities in the form of a joint bid from them and their participating registered social landlords. We will set out the criteria for taking part in the pilot and the way in which we intend to evaluate the bids.

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