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Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter dated 15 October 1999 that he received from the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling enclosing correspondence from Mr. D. C. Johnson. [108647]

Mrs. Roche: I wrote to the right hon. Member on 3 February.

City Status

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress in the award of city status. [108455]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Her Majesty the Queen has said that she intends to mark the Millennium by a grant of city status. A competition was announced in May 1999 with a closing date of 1 September. Thirty-nine applications have been received from towns in the United Kingdom; each application is being considered on its individual merits. No date has yet been set for the announcement of the result.

Ad Hop Scheme

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people came to Britain on the Ad Hop scheme in (a) 1998 and (b) 1999. [107950]

Mrs. Roche: The Ad Hop scheme is not known to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. If the hon. Member is referring to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Scheme, the annual quota of participants is 10,000. HOPS(GB), one of the approved operators, was allocated 3,517 work cards in 1998 and 1999.


New Deal (Lone Parents)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many lone parents, under the New Deal for Lone Parents, have (a) been issued with initial invitation letters, (b) booked initial interviews with personal advisers, (c) attended initial interviews, (d) agreed to participate in the programme, (e) been referred to Employment Service programmes or other training, (f) obtained jobs following participation and (g) have increased their hours of work following participation. [108001]

Angela Eagle: The information is in the table.

Results for the National Programme (October 1998-November 1999)Prototype phases 1 and 2 (July 1997-October 1998)
Initial invitation letters issued443,71050,612
Initial interviews booked(4)134,94830,826
Initial interviews attended112,57023,300
Number agreeing to participate100,50020,191
Number entering education/training10,6302,476
Jobs obtained (Number of these obtained by part-time workers increasing their hours)32,710 (1,230)5,429 (842)

(4) This figure is taken from internal management information and so has not been validated in the same way as other figures for the National Programme.

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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much has been spent on the New Deal for Lone Parents (a) since the original pilot schemes were established and (b) since its full implementation. [108000]

Angela Eagle: The cost of implementing the New Deal for Lone Parents (NDLP) prototype phase 1 areas was £7.9 million. The cost of implementing the national programme has been £47.6 million, broken down as £0.311 million 1997-98, £22.3 million in 1998-99 and £25 million in 1999-2000 (up to the end of December 1999).

Both sums include the cost of project management, the development and provision of IT support, publicity, the cost of evaluation and the costs of NDLP Innovative Pilots.

As such it is not possible to equate these with the impact of adviser time spent in helping lone parents into work. The independent evaluation of the NDLP prototype phase is due to be published at the end of this month and will include a full cost/benefit analysis. Similarly, the national programme is being evaluated separately and will also include a cost/benefit analysis. This is due for publication in spring 2002.

Low Income and Bad Health

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he proposes to take to further investigate the link between low income and chronic bad health highlighted in DSS Research Report No. 95; and if he will make a statement. [108116]

Mr. Bayley: DSS Research Report 95 was a baseline report from the Earnings Top-up (ETU) evaluation. This provided results of the first surveys of low-paid workers, medium-term unemployed people and employers conducted in 1996, before the introduction of ETU. Forthcoming reports from the ETU evaluation will also include analysis of self-reported health and disability.

Much research commissioned by the Department gathers information on self-reported health and disability for low income groups. In addition to the ETU evaluation, the Programme of Research into Low Income Families (PRILIF) and the Survey of Families with Children gathers information on health for families with children. The Jobseeker's Allowance Evaluation has information on the relationship between unemployment-related benefit receipt and poor health. The ONE evaluation will collect information on self-reported health and disability among clients of working age, and the impact of this on their ability to work. The Department also commissions research on clients receiving disability benefits.

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We know that low income and poor health are often linked, and that they can act together to exclude many people from the benefits of a prospering nation. We are determined to overcome these problems. That is why we set out our plans to improve health and reduce the health gap in the White Paper "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation" (Cm 4386) and the accompanying "Reducing Health Inequalities: An action report" in July 1999, as well as in our strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion, "Opportunity for all" (September 1999, Cm 4445).

Montserrat Evacuees (Relocation)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what special arrangements exist for people from Montserrat relocating in the United Kingdom; [108136]

Mr. Bayley: Special rules were introduced in 1996 to give people coming from Montserrat, after 1 November 1995 because of the volcanic crisis, immediate access to the main safety net benefits: income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, and Council Tax Benefit. These rules effectively exempt people coming from Montserrat from the habitual residence test.

While no special arrangements for access to the Social Fund were made by Montserrations, existing guidance and directions already made provision for community care grants to be considered for families who are experiencing exceptional pressures. However, in 1998 a bulletin was issued to all staff amplifying the circumstances in which grants could be considered: examples specifically included instances where a disaster has resulted in the evacuation to the United Kingdom.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the subsidies were in each of the past 10 years to (a) Worthing Borough Council, (b) Arun District Council and (c) all English local housing authorities combined for investigation and detection of housing benefit and council tax fraud; and if he will make a statement. [108186]

Angela Eagle: Local authorities are paid an administration subsidy that helps meet the general cost of administering the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit schemes. Specific financial incentives for investigating and

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detecting fraud were first introduced in April 1993 in the form of the weekly benefits savings scheme. Details of payments made under that scheme are set out in table 1.

The criteria for making claims under this scheme were tightened in 1998 following concerns expressed by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee that some councils had previously overclaimed. The scheme has been further amended from 1999-2000 onwards to provide additional incentives to local

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authorities who successfully prosecute fraudsters and who adopt the Verification Framework. I have also set out in table 2 the amounts of subsidy paid in respect of the Verification Framework, introduced in 1998-99, which puts checks in place to stop fraud getting into the benefit system.

Table 3 details the challenge fund scheme, which ran from 1996-97 to 1998-99, and encouraged councils to bid for funding for innovative anti-fraud initiatives.

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Weekly Benefit Savings (WBS) incentive scheme--rewards councils for detecting fraud

Financial year1993-941994-951995-961996-971997-981998-99(5)
Total for Arun District Council4,849113,101214,848391,780233,14656,615
Total for Worthing Borough Council9,59760,16059,326138,023271,586148,497
Total for all English local authorities5,545,29616,799,64326,668,90838,309,20855,115,7912,600,893

(5) This is the last full year for which data are available

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Verification Framework--prevents fraud getting into the system,
first introduced in 1998-99

Financial year1998-99 (£)
Total for Arun District Council54,043
Total for Worthing Borough Council58,384
Total for all English local authorities5,688,517

Challenge funding--three year scheme where Councils could submit bids for innovative anti-fraud initiatives

Financial year1996-971997-981998-99
Total for Arun District Council18,00043,00035,000
Total for Worthing Borough Council29,16700
Total for all English local authorities6,084,61811,965,5777,015,880

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