§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security(1) what the level of the average payment made to date is to pensioners to make up for income lost as a result of the NIRS2 computer problems, broken down into(a) outstanding benefit payments and (b) compensation; 
(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that pensioners who may have received a lower income than they are entitled to as a result of the NIRS2 computer problems are informed of their correct entitlement;
(3) which benefits, apart from state pensions, are still affected by the problems with NIRS2; and how many claimants of each benefit are still awaiting their correct benefit entitlement as a result.
§ Mr. Rooker
The contract for NIRS2 was signed in 1996 and there have been problems with the system from the start, which we are trying to resolve.
Pensioners who have been affected by the NIRS2 problems and who are entitled to compensation under the Departmental Special Payments Scheme receive an average amount of arrears of £377 and an average amount of compensation of £11.77.
To receive compensation under the scheme, all the following conditions must be satisfied. These are that the:
- final rate of pension was put into payment more than eight months after the date from which the pension is payable,
- amount of arrears due is at least £100,
- amount of compensation payable is at least £10.
Any change to a pensioner's National Insurance account that affects the rate of pension in payment is notified automatically to the Benefit Agency. This allows both the new rate and any arrears of pension to be paid.
Claims for Widows Benefit, Incapacity Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance are also affected by the NIRS2 problems. At 15 September 200, Benefits Agency offices had 12,402 Incapacity Benefit claims waiting to be reviewed and 2,255 Jobseeker's Allowance claims. The exact number of Widows Benefit claims waiting to be reviewed is not known but the combined total of Widows Benefit and Retirement Pension claims outstanding at 15 September was 96,776.
§ Mr. Webb
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will estimate the number of pensioners who are currently receiving incorrect payments in respect of(a) the state retirement pension and (b) SERPS that have been caused by problems with the NIRS2 computer system;
(2) if he will estimate the average number of newly entitled pensioners who are receiving incorrect payments in respect of (a) the state retirement pension and(b) SERPS that are caused by problems with the NIRS2 computer system;
(3) if he will estimate the average weekly (a) underpayment and (b) overpayment in respect of (i) the state retirement pension and (ii) SERPS caused by problems with the NIRS2 computer system at the latest date for which figures are available.795W
§ Mr. Rooker
The contract for NIRS2 was signed in 1996 and there have been problems with the system from the start which we are trying to resolve.
The number of pensioners not receiving their full rate of pension and the number of newly entitled pensioners who do not receive their full rate of pension in time for their first pension pay day specifically because of NIRS2 problems is not available.
Separate figures are not held for SERPS, which is a component of the overall State Retirement Pension. At 30 September 2000, NIRS2 problems had caused 128,000 pensioners to be underpaid a total of £43.5 million. At 31 August 2000, NIRS2 problems had caused 5,300 pensioners to be overpaid a total of £920,000. The average underpayment is £340 and the average overpayment £174.