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In each of the three winters of the scheme so far, around 10 million people have benefited from the payments, which will increase from £100 to £150 for each eligible household from this winter. As a result of extending the scheme to men and women aged 60, the number of people eligible will increase by up to 1.5 million this winter, with as many as 1.9 million people eligible for backdated payments.
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With nearly £4 billion committed to provide winter fuel payments over the lifetime of this Parliament, we have ensured that today's elderly do not have to worry about turning up their heating when it is cold.
Mr. Bayley: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber) on 22 June 2000, Official Report, column 448.
35. Dr. George Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what discussions he has had with employers' representatives about ending discrimination against older people in the workplace. 
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Mr. Rooker: We have discussed tackling age discrimination in the workplace with individual employers and a wide range of expert representative organisations. We hope to meet employers' representatives later in the year.
36. Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what measures he is taking to increase the financial security of people who have had to retire early; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rooker: Income related benefits such as the minimum income guarantee are available to people, from age 60, who have had to retire early and have insufficient resources to provide for their own financial security.
Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners qualifying for the minimum income guarantee; and what the most recent uptake figures are for (a) Swansea West, (b) the City of Swansea and (c) Wales. 
|Area||Number of claimants|
|Swansea West PC||3.3|
1. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and therefore subject to sampling error.
2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred and quoted in thousands.
3. Pensioners are defined as benefit units where the claimant and/or their partner is aged 60 or over.
Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry, February 2000.
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if he will estimate the total cost of the minimum income guarantee take-up campaign; and if he will make a statement. 
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress has been made on encouraging pensioners to take up the minimum income guarantee since the launch of his Department's publicity campaign. 
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security pursuant to his answer of 7 July 2000, Official Report, column 343, on the minimum income guarantee, if he will estimate how many of the 35,000 claim packs issued have so far produced successful claims. 
Mr. Bayley: Pensioners receiving the minimum income guarantee claim packs have one month in which to complete and return them. Information on the results of the first wave of claims will be available later in the summer.
Mr. Pearson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list for his Department and its agencies the approved list of manufacturers of (a) cars and (b) commercial vehicles; and if he will make a statement on his Department's leasing and purchasing policy. 
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From April 2000, following an extensive tendering process with all the major manufacturers which began in August 1999, a new three year purchase contract for the Department and Inland Revenue, but available to other government Departments, has been negotiated and awarded to six manufacturers (Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Fiat, Nissan and Citroen). It is expected that all future purchases, both for cars and light commercial vehicles, will be made from this framework contract and will be based on available discount at the time of purchase.
Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many reports of the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate have been published in respect of (a) local councils and (b) other organisations, in Scotland. 
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Mr. Darling: Lord Grabiner's report made a number of useful recommendations that the Government are committed to implement. A confidential telephone helpline has been launched to provide advice on tax and benefits to people who want to put their affairs in order. We are extending the tightened procedures for allocating National Insurance numbers to the rest of the country. We are also taking steps to deny benefit to people who have been convicted twice of benefit fraud--"two strikes and you're out".
An important recommendation was that the Government should make greater use of information from private sector sources. Today I am publishing a consultation document on how we can better check claims in the fight against fraud. The public and all interested parties will have three months to respond. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Library and the Vote Office.
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