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Staff Secondments

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis), of 9 February 2000, Official Report, column 213W, on secondments, if he will give the names, grades and job titles of the staff seconded to his Department from each organisation mentioned, stating in each case the name of the section they were seconded to and a summary of the work that they were involved with. [128247]

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Mr. Rooker [holding answer 29 June 2000]: Of the four people listed, the staff member from the Guardian Media Group plc was seconded to the Department as a Grade 7 policy adviser on the Welfare Reform Unit where he helped in the development of thinking on welfare reform and its subsequent presentation.

The secondee from Sacker and Partners was a trainee solicitor who worked in the Office of the Solicitor providing advice on legal aspects of pensions and also the European Community.

The secondee from CSL Management Services came into the Department as an administrative officer in the Chatham Local Benefits Office where he worked on the Area Benefit Review Team co-ordinating activity on housing benefit.

The Business Development Manager from Oracle was seconded into the Department as a senior manager in the Modern Service Team advising on electronic Government issues and project approval.

For reasons of confidentiality names of individuals have not been given.


Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he (a) received and (b) will publish the Faculty and Institute of Acturaries' report on the minimum funding requirement; [128471]

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he has received the report from the Institute of Actuaries on the Minimum Funding Requirement; and when it will be published. [128529]

Mr. Rooker: We received the report from the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries on the review of the minimum funding requirement at the end of May. We are considering it and we will be issuing a consultation paper on any proposals for change. We plan to publish the actuaries' report alongside the consultation document.

Mothers (Income)

Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the average weekly income is of mothers with children aged three. [129002]

Angela Eagle: The majority of mothers live in families with a partner, and the latest estimate for the gross income of families with children aged three is £521 a week.

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Child Poverty

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the figures for the (a) GDP per head and (b) highest family income for those children termed as living in poverty in the UK according to the recent UNICEF report in each of the last 21 years. [129026]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

Over the period 1979 to 1997 GDP per head grew by 40 per cent. whereas the highest equivalised household income of a child in poverty grew by only 30 per cent.

£ per annum

YearGDP per head(16)Highest equivalised household income of a child in poverty (as defined by UNICEF)(17)

(16) Constant 1995 prices

(17) April 1999 prices


1. GDP per head is for the UK, taken from ONS series YBGS--Gross domestic product at market prices, shown in 1995 prices.

2. The highest household income for those children living in poverty (as defined by UNICEF) is 50 per cent. of median equivalised household income before housing costs shown for Great Britain, using data from the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) Series. These figures are based on the Family Expenditure Survey (FES) from 1979 to 1993, and on the Family Resources Survey (FRS) from 1994-95 onwards. These are not consistent with the UK estimates contained in the UNICEF Innocent Report Card "A League Table of Child Poverty in Rich Nations", which are based on different data and methods of estimation.

3. Estimates from the FES relate to the UK while those from the FRS relate to GB. In addition, the estimates derived from the two surveys use slightly different definitions of income: FRS results therefore are not precisely comparable with those from the FES but are considered to be broadly comparable. Self-employed households have been excluded from the analysis.

4. Estimates from the Family Expenditure Survey from 1987 to 1993 are based on a two year rolling average method, and refer to combined years--for example, in the table 1987 is 1987 + 1998.

5. Estimates from the Family Resources Survey are based on data for financial years from 1994-95 onwards. For example, 1994 refers to the financial year 1994-95.

6. Estimates of 50 per cent. of median income before housing costs are based on survey data, and so will be subject to the normal problems associated with survey data including sampling variation and measurement error.

7. Figures for GDP per head and median equivalised household income are not directly comparable, as GDP per head is not equivalised, and they are shown in different price bases.

8. Figures are rounded to the nearest £1.

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Wrongful Imprisonment

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will protect the benefit position of individuals who were wrongly imprisoned as a result of a conviction that was subsequently overturned. [129385]

Mr. Rooker: In future individuals who have been wrongly convicted will be able to receive National Insurance credits covering the period of wrongful imprisonment. This will protect their entitlement to the State Pension and Incapacity Benefit for that period and ensure that they are not disadvantaged.

Benefit Fraud Inspectorate

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will publish the reports of the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate in respect of Hart district council and Lancaster city council. [129386]

Mr. Rooker: Benefit Fraud Inspectorate reports have been published today in respect of Hart district council and Lancaster city council and copies of these reports have been placed in the Library.

Both reports contain recommendations to address weaknesses and help the councils to improve their administration and counter fraud activity for Housing and Council Tax Benefits.

Inspectors report a commitment by Lancaster city council to tackling fraud but considered there was a need to support this commitment in operational terms. The BFI raises a number of concerns including a need for Lancaster city council to address urgently its inadequate management information systems and limited management checking regime.

In their report on Hart district council inspectors found some good working practices, but weaknesses were identified in a number of key areas. There were several areas where the council had failed to make sure benefit payments were free from fraud and error and where they failed to comply with the law.

The report on Hart district council notes a need for the council to tighten verification procedures so, as a minimum, they match the standards outlined in the Verification Framework. Inspectors found the council's counter-fraud activity to be ineffective and although high level counter-fraud policies had been developed, these had not been underpinned with detailed operational measures. The BFI also reports that these policies did not have the commitment of staff or management to implement them.

The Secretary of State is now considering both these reports and will be asking both councils for their proposals in response to the findings and recommendations of the BFI.

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