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Agency Performance Targets

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what performance targets he has set his Department's agencies for 2001-02; and if he will make a statement. [156853]

Mr. Darling: The targets I have set CSA, WPA and TAS for 2001-02 are as given.

Further information on CSA, WPA and TAS plans for 2001-02 is contained in their individual business plans, which have been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

The targets I have set for BA and publication of its Business Plan will be announced shortly.

Targets for 2001-02 are:











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National Insurance

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) of 14 March 2001, Official Report, column 606W, on national insurance numbers, how the new tests for national insurance numbers are more stringent. [154915]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 22 March 2001]: We have aligned the process for both benefit and employment inspired applications for National Insurance Numbers (NINOs). All adult applicants will be interviewed by dedicated specially trained staff using investigative interviewing techniques. Pre-interview questioning will take place prior to the specialist interview so that information can be validated.

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Post interview, the information given by an applicant in support of their application will be corroborated. Documentation supplied by an applicant will be scrutinised by specially trained staff using specialist equipment provided for this purpose. We have introduced a more stringent internal checking regime to ensure that a NINO application is valid and that the applicant does not already have a NINO. The introduction of dedicated staff will reduce the number of staff who have authority to create a NINO.

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) of 14 March 2001, Official Report, column 606W, on national insurance numbers, if the new test for national insurance numbers will apply to all numbers allocated to those under 16 years of age. [154914]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 22 March 2001]: The enhanced National Insurance Number (NINO) process applies only to adult applications.

There is no enhanced NINO process for under 16's, however before a child can be allocated a Child Reference Number, their parents have to go through this process.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many national insurance numbers there were on (a) the Departmental Central Index and (b) NIRS1/NIRS2, in each year since 1992. [152436]

Mr. Rooker: The figures are set out in the tables. The difference between the number of records held on DCI and NIRS1/NIRS2 is because:


The DCI Data Cleansing work is incorporated within the current core business. This includes such activities as data cleansing, data maintenance and the removal of duplicate and surplus NINOs.

The rise in number of NINOs reflects the fact that while additions are made each year for children who reach 16 and others who apply for a NINO. Records need to be retained in the event of a surviving spouse making a claim on their partner's contribution.

National Insurance numbers held on DCI

YearTotal of NINOs at 31 December (million)
199271
199375
199476
199577
199677
199779
199880
199981
200082

Note:

Figures rounded to the nearest million.


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National Insurance numbers held on NIRS1/NIRS2

YearTotal of NINOs at 31 December (million)
199261
199362
199463
199564
199665
199766
199867
199968
200069

Note:

Figures rounded to the nearest million.


Mortgage Benefits

Mr. Gorrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will take steps to reduce the time it takes for unemployed people to receive contributions from the benefit system towards mortgage payments. [154468]

Mr. Bayley: We believe that where possible, homeowners have a responsibility to provide for short term contingencies themselves, for example through private mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI). We have worked closely with the industry to extend the nature and coverage of MPPI products so that they are suitable for a wider group of people.

For the majority of people, assistance via the benefit system with their mortgage is restricted until they have served a 39 week waiting period. Exceptions to this rule are people who took out a mortgage prior to 2 October 1995, and certain vulnerable people, who are subject to a shorter waiting period, and people aged 60 and over whose interest is paid from the outset of the claim.

We have no plans to reduce the waiting periods.

Pensioner Organisations

Mr. Barron: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on his plans for the new organisation for pensioners. [156801]

Mr. Darling: We are aiming to provide a service more tailored to the requirements of different groups of customers served by the Department.

Pensioners have distinct and specific needs. It is important that we develop a modern, integrated service designed to meet these needs.

So we are setting up The Pension Service within the Department which will be solely focused on the needs of today's and tomorrow's pensioners dealing with everything from policy development to frontline service delivery.

The Pension Service will provide a new and radically better service for today's pensioners so that they will have a single, easily accessible point of contact for all social security benefits, making full use of opportunities provided by new technology including the internet.

It will also provide help for tomorrow's pensioners by working co-operatively with the private pensions industry to design and regulate appropriate pensions products and providing accurate information to help them make decisions about their future pensions.

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Pension services will be designed and delivered through a combination of new centralised operations and local services. The new centralised operations will provide today's and tomorrow's pensioners with an integrated service.


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