§ Mr. Barnes
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what instructions have been issued to benefits agencies in the past year about refusing income support under the deprivation of capital regulations to those paying off part or all of their mortgages; and if he will make a statement.
§ 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 Michael Bichard to Mr. Harry Barnes, dated 2 March 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 Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking what instructions have been issued to benefits agencies in the past year about refusing Income Support under the deprivation of capital regulations to those paying off part of or all of their mortgages; and if he will make a statement.It may help if I explain that claims to Income Support are decided in the first instance by adjudication officers. If a customer is dissatisfied, they may appeal against the decision to a Social Security Appeal Tribunal. Further appeal may also be made to a Social Security Commissioner. These authorities carry out their functions independently, consequently, no Government Minister or Departmental official is able to comment on the decisions they make or intervene in matters for which they are responsible.Guidance on the treatment of capital and deprivation of capital is provided in the Adjudication Officers Guide. I can confirm that staff in the Benefits Agency offices have been reminded of the provisions of existing legislation and guidance available to them regarding deprivation of capital.These reminders were issued in the form of circulars from the Benefits Agency Central Services and Central 202W Adjudication Services. There has been no change in the treatment of capital or deprivation of capital, in Income Support Law, in the past year.I hope you find this reply helpful. A copy of this letter will appear in the Official Report and a copy will also be placed in the Library.