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Benefit Payments

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the exceptions service will be post office based. [114359]

We are currently developing an alternative payment method to pay customers who are unable to open or manage an account. Payment outlets for this service will include post office branches.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will break down the cost of the new direct payment advertising campaign (a) by year and (b) by types of media used. [114360]

A budget of up to £25 million is available for the Direct Payment campaign, spread over a three-year period (2002–03 to 2004–05).Advertising media and production costs for the last financial year (2002–03) total £1,462,000. This figure breaks down as follows:

Radio media383,000
National press media225,000
Regional press media250,000
Production across all media604,000
The committed spend on advertising media and production to date for the current financial year is £3,629,000. This figure breaks down as follows:

TV media1,319,000
Radio media560,000
National press media509, 000
Regional press media599, 000
Magazine media259, 000
Ambient media189,000
Production across all media194,000

Advertising costs for the remainder of this financial year and for next year are not yet available as the detail of the campaign is still in the process of development.

All figures quoted in this answer are exclusive of VAT.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions have taken place with the Financial Ombudsman on the direct payment of benefits; and if he will make a statement. [114373]

The Department"s officials regularly meet with a range of interested groups, including the Financial Ombudsman Service, to discuss the move to Direct Payment.