Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2004

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:05 pm on 16th December 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Hollis of Heigham Baroness Hollis of Heigham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions) 12:05 pm, 16th December 2004

My Lords, I can give the noble Baroness the stats for appeals not proceeding to hearing and reinstatement. Normally, there are something like 10,000 withdrawals, 35,000 strike-outs and 9,000 reinstatements. What I do not have before me, which I would have to check, is whether we have any expectation or forecasts of additional costs. The reason why we have not is that by far the biggest array of benefit claims—something like two-thirds of them—relate to disability benefits, which are not affected by these measures. That figure results from the difficulties with a subjective judgment with regard to DLA.

We expect the number of appeals based on defective information to be very rare indeed, because the obvious thing to do is to put it right, if the claimant wished to pursue his appeal, having remembered that he had forgotten to notify the authorities that he had a bit of capital or some extra overtime money that might affect his entitlement to housing benefit. So we do not expect the costs to be very great.

I cannot answer the one question that the noble Baroness asked me, but that is partly because we are geared up for being able to handle the work fairly effectively. What happens now, basically, is that most of the appeals that are struck out follow effectively an abandonment, when we do not expect people to pursue the matter. They may have changed address or decided it is not worth it, for example. We expect very little extra business; what we are doing is clarifying the legal and statutory basis of the appeal system, rather than expecting a large swathe of new appeals.

I cannot give the noble Baroness the precise information that she wants, but I shall recheck. Our forecasts were so modest in this regard that we have not done an impact assessment.