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Housing Benefit Fraud

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will publish the results from the October 1999-April 2000 Area Benefit Review that assessed Housing Benefit fraud. [135258]

Angela Eagle: The full year's results of non-standard Housing Benefit measurement for the period October 1999 to September 2000 are expected to be available in the summer 2001.


Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many new claimants of SERPS have been awarded SERPS (a) as soon as they became eligible, (b) less than two weeks after they became eligible, (c) two to four weeks after they became eligible, (d) four to six weeks after they became eligible and (e) more than six weeks after they became eligible, in each quarter of each of the last two years; [135269]

Mr. Rooker: The information is not available.

1 Nov 2000 : Column: 479W

Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 20 July 2000, Official Report, columns 270-71W, how many people (a) were eligible for backdated winter fuel payments for (i) 1997, (ii) 1998 and (iii) 1999, (b) have contacted the winter fuel payments helpline in each month since it began, (c) have made a claim for backdated winter fuel payments, (d) received a backdated winter fuel payment before the end of September and (e) have still to receive a backdated winter fuel payment. [134783]

Angela Eagle: It is estimated that around a total of 1.9 million people could be eligible for payments in respect of previous winters. This includes men aged 60-64 and men and women over State Pension age who did not qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment before the extension of the scheme because they were not getting one of the qualifying benefits.

The number of estimated to be eligible in each of the three winters of 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000 is 1.4 million. The difference in the total number eligible and the number eligible in each of the three winters is due to the fact that some people will not be eligible for payments in respect of all three winters, since they were either aged under 60 for some of the period, or turned 65 during the period and will have already received payments for the second or third winter.

The number of calls the helpline has received during each month since it began, the winter of 1997-98, are in the table.

MonthsNumber of calls
Winter of 1997-98 (helpline opened 5 January 1998)
Winter of 1998-99 (helpline opened 5 October 1998)
Winter of 1999-2000 (helpline opened 13 September 1999)
Helpline from April 2000

(5) Up to 20 October 2000

To date, the number of claims received in respect of Winter Fuel Payments for past winters is 999,490.

1 Nov 2000 : Column: 480W

The number of payments issued, in respect of past winters, before the end of September is 855,354. To date that number has increased to 936,240.

The number of claims outstanding to date are: 32,272 claims already been processed but awaiting issue; 20,707 claims returned to the customer seeking further information; 21,690 claims returned but not yet processed.

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which bodies he has consulted to ensure that the forthcoming stakeholder advertising campaign does not lead to mis-selling or mis-buying of pensions. [134644]

Mr. Rooker: The forthcoming advertising campaign aims to communicate basic impartial information about pensions, and to explain the range of pensions options available, including stakeholder pensions, so that people can make informed decisions about their pensions arrangements.

Consultation on the stakeholder pension guides for individuals, and employers included the FSA Pensions Education Forum, which includes members from the pension industry, employer representatives and other Government Departments.

Lone Parents

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will place in the Library a copy of the written information handed to lone parents who join the New Deal for Lone Parents. [134546]

Angela Eagle: The documents have been placed in the Library.


School Closures

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the number of school closures by constituency in each of the last five years. [135222]

Ms Estelle Morris: The numbers notified to my Department are contained in tables, which have been placed in the Libraries.

Teachers (Assaults)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what guidance his Department gives on measures teachers can take to defend themselves if attacked by pupils. [135035]

Ms Estelle Morris: DFEE Circular 10/98 makes it clear that teachers may use reasonable force to control or restrain pupils to prevent them from causing injury to themselves or others, and contains guidance on appropriate physical intervention measures. The guidance emphasises that the degree of force used must be in proportion to the circumstances of the incident and be the minimum needed to achieve the desired result.

1 Nov 2000 : Column: 481W

We intend to issue additional guidance to help schools and local education authorities plan their strategies for managing the behaviour of pupils with severe behavioural difficulties. Placing the use of restraint in its proper context as one element only of a school's behaviour policy, the guidance will include advice on drawing up and agreeing policies on its use, selecting appropriate training and recording and monitoring incidents.

Overseas Teachers

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the proportion of teaching posts occupied by teachers from overseas in (a) London and (b) England and Wales in the current academic year. [134346]

Ms Estelle Morris: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Index of Multiple Deprivation

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if his Department uses the Index of Multiple Deprivation in the allocation of funds. [134575]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Index of Multiple Deprivation is used by the Department to help to identify areas which are to be invited to develop a Sure Start Programme. The index will also be used in the allocation of Nursery Education Grant for three-year-olds in 2001-02.

New Deal for Young People

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many candidates have completed New Deal for Young People in the West Sussex employment area; and how many of these (a) have taken up unsubsidised employment and (b) are still in unsubsidised employment; [134625]

Ms Jowell [holding answer 26 October 2000]: The New Deal aims to help unemployed people move as quickly as possible from welfare into unsubsidised work. The support that is given continues if the young person returns to JSA. The New Deal programme is not a fixed-length course which allows you to pinpoint when a client's participation in the programme is 'complete'.

In West Sussex Coastal Plain unit of delivery, the latest figures to August 2000 show 957 young people have started New Deal, and we know that of the 802 who have left, 421 have gained unsubsidised jobs. Of these, 317 are sustained unsubsidised jobs. We use the term 'sustained job' for those young people not returning to Jobseekers Allowance within 13 weeks of gaining a job.

Many other young people leave the New Deal programme for jobs without informing the Employment Service or maintaining any further contact. These additional jobs do not enter the official statistics.

1 Nov 2000 : Column: 482W

School Discipline Policies

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what discussions he has had with teachers who have been physically assaulted by pupils about school discipline policies. [134685]

Jacqui Smith: We discuss such issues regularly as we meet representatives of the teacher associations about discipline and other issues. As a result of representations from headteachers, we recently issued new guidance for exclusion appeal panels indicates that the headteacher's decision to exclude should not be overridden in a range of circumstances including where there is violence or the threat of violence.

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