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Benefits

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many unemployed able-bodied (a) male and (b) female workers aged (i) 20-29, (ii) 30-39, (iii) 40-49 and (iv) 50-59 years had their benefit disqualified for (A) two weeks, (B) four weeks, (C) 13 weeks and (D) 26 weeks in the last 12 months; and what the equivalent figures were in 2001-02. (98914)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the pursuance by the Benefit Fraud Hotline of fraud allegations in cases where the informant does not know the exact postal address of the person against whom the allegation is being made. (98293)

National Benefit Fraud Hotline (NBFH) operators are trained to take as much detail as possible from callers to establish the identity of the person against whom an allegation is made.

Operators would not refuse to take details of an allegation if the full address is not known as the caller may have alternative information, such as details of an employer, to enable investigators to trace suspected individuals. If only a partial address is known, NBFH operators can undertake a search to trace a full address.

In all cases, allegations are referred to the Fraud Investigation Service for consideration of investigation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he is taking to improve reporting of (a) reconsideration decisions, (b) revisions, (c) appeals and (d) the recovery of overpayments due to departmental error. (91701)

Statistical information on the different aspects of decision making is gathered and collated on a daily basis. The Department is determined to ensure that when reported the information is accurate and credible. When last reported, in the Secretary of State's report on the standards of decision making in the Agencies in 2002 and 2003, the Comptroller and Auditor General raised concerns about the aspects of decision making referred to in the question. These concerns related in the main to the validation of the published figures. The Department is considering how best it can make the necessary improvements.

A new computer system has recently been introduced in the Department's Debt Management organisation to improve the management, recording and accounting of overpayments and their recovery.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people received industrial injuries benefits in each of the last five years; how many received (a) industrial injuries disablement benefit, (b) reduced earnings allowance and (c) retirement allowance; how much was paid in industrial injuries benefits in each year in each case; and how much was spent on administration of such benefits in each year in each case, broken down by (i) employee costs, (ii) IS/IT costs and (iii) other costs. (92111)

The available information is in the following tables.

Recipients of industrial injuries benefits in Great Britain at December each year

Total

IIDB only

REA only

RA only

IIDB and REA

IIDB and RA

Unknown

2001

341,220

196,590

49,260

27,370

42,680

25,310

20

2002

342,390

198,980

47,950

28,420

40,390

26,640

20

2003

341,910

201,130

45,830

29,420

37,790

27,720

20

2004

341,010

203,260

43,280

30,270

35,480

28,710

10

2005

338,970

204,230

41,100

30,930

33,150

29,540

20

Notes:1. IIDB = Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. 2. REA = Reduced Earnings Allowance. 3. RA = Retirement Allowance. 4. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Source:Information Directorate, Industrial Injuries Computer System, 100 per cent. data.

Industrial injuries benefits, out-turn expenditure, Great Britain

£ million (cash terms)

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

495

486

496

515

521

Reduced Earnings Allowance

201

214

204

199

191

Retirement Allowance

31

33

37

40

42

Total

727

733

737

754

754

Notes:1. Figures are estimated by apportioning the out-turn total spending on all industrial disablement benefits using sample data on the number of assessments paid as IIDB, REA and RA. 2. The figures for total out-turn spending on all industrial disablement benefits are consistent with Table 3 published on the internet at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/Table3.xls

The Department accounts for its administrative expenditure by strategic objective as set out in its public service agreements (PSA) and by individual requests for resources (RfRs) as set out in the departmental estimates and accounts, and not by benefit. Information on administrative expenditure by strategic objective is available in the annually published departmental report, copies of which are available in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are receiving the (a) carer’s allowance, (b) higher rate of attendance allowance and (c) pension credit in (i) Chorley and (ii) each constituency in Lancashire. (96881)

The information requested is in the following table:

Carer’s allowance, higher-rate attendance allowance, and pension credit: numbers of recipients in each constituency in Lancashire at February 2006

Constituency

1Carer’s allowance

2Higher rate attendance allowance

1Pension credit

Blackburn

1,410

1,800

5,730

Blackpool North and Fleetwood

970

2,100

6,580

Blackpool South

1,050

1,700

6,840

Burnley

820

1,500

5,120

Chorley

630

1,300

4,060

Fylde

620

2,000

4,220

Hyndburn

880

2,000

5,000

Lancaster and Wyre

580

1,700

4,130

Morecambe and Lunesdale

770

1,400

5,180

Pendle

900

1,300

4,660

Preston

1,030

1,400

5,210

Ribble Valley

440

1,600

3,000

Rossendale and Darwen

760

1,500

4,420

South Ribble

640

1,500

3,670

West Lancashire

890

1,200

4,840

Sources:

1 DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2 DWP 5 per cent. sample data. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the cost of the Benefit Simplification Unit was in each year since its establishment; (77982)

(2) what the key performance targets are for the Benefit Simplification Unit; and if he will make a statement;

(3) when the Benefit Simplification Unit was established; what publications it has produced; and what assessment he has made of its performance against its objectives;

(4) what the key performance indicators are for the Benefit Simplification Unit;

(5) what the total (a) set-up and (b) running costs have been of the Benefit Simplification Unit.

We announced the setting up of a dedicated benefit simplification unit on 7 December 2005, at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing into the National Audit Office report "Dealing with the complexity of the benefit system", published on 18 November 2005.

The unit's role is to act as a catalyst in driving forward simplification across the benefits system, by challenging existing complexity and ensuring that the need to bear down on complexity is at the heart of future benefit design and delivery. As a first step, the unit published "Simplification: Guide to Best Practice" on 4 May 2006. Copies have been placed in the Library. The unit is now working to help embed best practice and over the summer has run a series of roadshows to raise awareness of the simplification agenda across the Department.

Progress on simplification will be reported on annually in the departmental report, and the effectiveness of the unit will be reflected in the extent to which key performance indicators are met across the Department, where these indicators are partly dependent on the complexity of the system. The unit is also looking at whether it is possible to produce a reliable set of indicators to measure future progress.

The unit was fully staffed by the end of July 2006 (including a secondee from Citizens Advice). There were no specific setup costs, as permanent staff were drawn from within the Department. Total running costs over the period January 2006 to September 2006 were £207,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his Answer of 27 March 2006, Official Report, column 717W, on benefits, what consultations his Department has undertaken to inform its ongoing review of the non-dependant deduction regime; and if he will make a statement. (97005)

The Government published the Welfare Reform Green Paper “A New Deal for Welfare; Empowering People to Work” (Cm 6730) which invited comments on the housing benefit scheme in general on 24 January. Although there was no specific reference to non-dependent deduction in the Green Paper, over 600 individuals and organisations gave their views in the consultation period. Of these, 11 specifically made a reference to non-dependent deductions. The Government response, “A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work. Consultation Report” (Cm 6859) was published on 19 June 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each constituency in Scotland receive the (a) carer’s allowance, (b) higher rate of attendance allowance, (c) pension credit and (d) child benefit. (96260)

The information requested is in the following table:

Carer’s allowance, higher-rate attendance allowance, pension credit and child benefit: numbers1 of recipients in each constituency in Scotland as at February 2006

Constituency

2Carer’s allowance

2Pension credit

3Higher rate attendance allowance

4Child benefit

Aberdeen, North

560

4,800

1,400

8,860

Aberdeen, South

330

3,250

900

8,650

Airdrie and Shotts

910

5,380

1,200

10,940

Angus

650

4,920

1,400

9,770

Argyll and Bute

590

4,820

1,400

9,780

Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

1,130

5,750

1,500

11,040

Banff and Buchan

770

4,660

1,200

10,250

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

590

5,280

1,300

10,200

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

670

3,510

1,000

6,950

Central Ayrshire

820

5,140

1,500

10,690

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

910

6,060

1,700

12,110

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch, East

670

4,330

1,700

11,600

Dumfries and Galloway

990

5,750

1,400

10,790

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

670

4,560

1,400

9,690

Dundee, East

730

4,590

1,700

10,310

Dundee, West

770

6,020

1,700

9,510

Dunfermline and West Fife

660

3,290

900

11,860

East Dunbartonshire

370

2,470

1,300

10,040

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

730

5,130

1,600

12,660

East Lothian

680

4,640

1,800

11,490

East Renfrewshire

520

3,070

1,400

11,470

Edinburgh, East

650

4,490

800

8,230

Edinburgh, North and Leith

490

3,570

1,000

8,070

Edinburgh, South

450

2,730

800

8,590

Edinburgh, South West

580

3,320

1,200

9,580

Edinburgh, West

570

3,350

1,100

10,200

Falkirk

930

5,610

1,300

12,840

Glasgow, Central

870

6,530

1,200

7,060

Glasgow, East

1,450

7,900

2,200

12,040

Glasgow, North

510

4,170

1,000

6,110

Glasgow, North East

1,320

8,770

1,500

10,550

Glasgow North West

1,080

6,490

1,800

9,470

Glasgow, South

850

5,580

1,100

10,290

Glasgow, South West

1,100

7,140

1,700

10,830

Glenrothes

1,040

4,990

1,100

11,320

Gordon

390

2,820

1,000

11,280

Inverclyde

830

5,960

1,600

10,480

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

600

4,060

1,300

10,740

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

1,010

6,090

1,500

11,810

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

880

5,120

1,400

11,220

Lanark and Hamilton, East

930

5,830

1,600

11,410

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

880

5,470

1,500

13,110

Livingston

920

4,550

1,200

14,560

Midlothian

660

3,570

1,300

10,040

Moray

670

4,170

1,100

10,410

Motherwell and Wishaw

980

6,150

1,900

11,520

Na h-Eileanan an lar

210

2,510

400

2,870

North Ayrshire and Arran

940

5,670

1,600

11,590

North East Fife

440

3,220

1,000

8,180

Ochil and South Perthshire

750

4,350

1,200

11,540

Orkney and Shetland

230

1,960

600

4,860

Paisley and Renfrewshire, North

650

4,420

1,400

11,260

Paisley and Renfrewshire, South

680

5,670

1,200

10,420

Perth and North Perthshire

650

4,580

2,000

10,280

Ross, Skye and Lochaber

490

3,440

1,200

7,370

Rutherglen and Hamilton, West

1,090

6,810

1,900

12,740

Stirling

610

3,600

1,500

10,050

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

350

2,510

1,000

10,880

West Dunbartonshire

1,070

6,760

1,900

11,810

1 Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2 Source: DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

3 Source: DWP 5 per cent. sample data, rounded to the nearest 100.

4 AA figures are rounded to the nearest 100.

5 Figures are for August 2005.

Source:

HMRC published statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the discontinuation of the benefits reprocessing payments programme, with reference to (a) aborted investment costs and (b) replacement provision of information technology. (92455)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the discontinuation of the Benefit Processing Replacement Programme (BPRP), with reference to (a) aborted investment costs and (b) replacement provision of information. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Press estimates of the expenditure on the BPRP have considerably overstated the loss to public funds, because a significant proportion of its output to date is capable of being recycled. We are currently establishing the scope for re-use of components and the value of other assets acquired.

Having formally closed the BPR Programme, we are currently undertaking a major planning exercise to support the delivery of the proposed Employment and Support Allowance. This will focus on the deployment of components of BPRP, existing legacy IT systems and proven technology from across the Department.

I hope this is helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many administrative changes there have been to housing benefit since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (90400)

The information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost as detailed records of administrative changes are not collated centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the value of all unclaimed benefits for each year since 1996-97; and if he will make a statement. (78157)

Information relating to unclaimed benefits is only available for the following income-related benefits: income support (IS), minimum income guarantee (MIG), pension credit (PC), housing benefit (HB), council tax benefit (CTB), income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA-IB) and family credit (FC). Estimates for individual benefits are published in the “Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-up” series; copies are available in the Library. Information on other benefits is not available.