§ Mrs. Jane Kennedy
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many files relating to claims for social security benefits have been destroyed in each year since 1985 at the(a) Huyton, (b) Edge Hill, (c) Breckfield and (d) Childwell Valley social security offices in Liverpool.908W
§ Mr. Burt
The administration of income support is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Letter from M. Bichard to Ms. Jane Kennedy, dated 28 January 1993:As Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking how many files relating to claims for social security benefits have been destroyed in each year since 1985 at the (a) Huyton, (b) Edge Hill, (c) Breckfield and (d) Childwall Valley social security offices in Liverpool.The information you requested is not available as offices do not record either the details of the numbers of records destroyed over any particular period or the names of the customers concerned. I have outlined below the normal practice for destruction of documents in Income Support and Contributory Benefit records.The records of customers in receipt of Income Support are kept intact as long as they receive benefit. Only when a customer's benefit ceases and all outstanding action has been completed will clerical records be transferred to the dormant file. If the records are dormant for 18 months, they are destroyed but only if there is no ongoing activity such as an outstanding appeal or overpayment.Contributory Benefit files are normally destroyed 18 months after death or 18 months after the final payment of benefit. However, from 1987 there has been an embargo on the destruction of any files relating to claims for Contributory Benefits. Such records are called General Benefit Units (GBUs).In 1986 a national "one off" exercise allowed the destruction of all GBUs which had been inactive, (i.e. not the subject of claims or change of circumstances) for 5 years or more with certain exceptions.If there is a particular case that is causing you concern please let me know the details and I will be happy to look into it for you.A copy will appear in the Official Report. A copy will also be placed in the Library.