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Dr. Reid: I fully support the aims of the International Year of Volunteers. Everyone benefits from volunteering and the Prime Minister has issued a challenge to employers to give their employees paid time off to work in the community.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will introduce legislation to devolve responsibility for the police service and for the prison service in Wales from the Home Office to the National Assembly for Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I fully support the aims of the International Year of Volunteers. Everyone benefits from volunteering and the Prime Minister has issued a challenge to employers to give their employees paid time off to work in the community. I intend to spend some time volunteering during 2001.
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Mr. Bayley: Social Security benefits are available for carers aged 16 and over. This means that measures recently announced, such as the increase in the Invalid Care Allowance earnings limit, the increase in carer premium and the extension of entitlement to Invalid Care Allowance for up to eight weeks after the disabled person dies, will help young carers, as well as others.
increase the earnings limit in Invalid Care Allowance from £50 a week to the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit, currently £67 per week;
allow ICA to continue for up to eight weeks after the death of the person being cared for;
allow claims to ICA to be made from people aged 65 and over which will assist carers whose State pension is less than the rate of ICA and those who receive the Minimum Income Guarantee.
14. Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what measures he has taken to ensure that tribunals which lie within his Department's responsibility meet the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998 for independence. 
Angela Eagle: My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor appoints the panel members who sit on unified appeal tribunals within the Appeals Service. He introduced new administrative arrangements for judicial appointments, including part-time panel members, from 12 April 2000.
My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and my noble Friend the Lord Chief Justice consider that these arrangements put beyond reasonable doubt the safeguards guaranteeing the independence of judicial appointments.
17. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many persons have had their disability benefits cancelled over the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Rooker: From statistical surveys based on a 1 per cent. sample it has been estimated that around 500,000 pensioners could be entitled to Minimum Income Guarantee but do not claim it. We shall have a better idea of a figure when the present take-up campaign is concluded, during which we are making direct contact with 2.3 million pensioners.
Mr. Rooker: Some 2 million pensioners either as single people or couples receive the Minimum Income Guarantee. Figures for those who might be entitled but are not claiming were based on a 1 per cent. sample. We shall have a better idea when the present take-up campaign is concluded, during which we are making direct contact with 2.3 million pensioners.
24. Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to help those pensioners whose small occupational pension schemes prevent them from receiving the minimum income guarantee. 
Angela Eagle: The changes we made to simplify the social fund budgeting loan scheme in April 1999 are working well. In its first year the new scheme helped more people on the lowest incomes by way of interest-free loans than ever before.
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Mr. Rooker: A number of representations have been received on this matter. A consultation paper on our proposals for the Pension Credit was published on 9 November. A copy has been placed in the Library.
Mr. Rooker: The estimated loss due to fraud is £2 billion per year. We have now increased the targets for reducing the amount of fraud and error in the system. We are now aiming to reduce the losses from fraud and error in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance, the two most vulnerable benefits, by 25 per cent. by March 2004, rising to 50 per cent. by March 2006.
Angela Eagle: We continue to give tackling Housing Benefit fraud a very high priority. One of our key objectives is to prevent fraud and error from entering the system. To this end, we are taking initiatives to ensure that information flows freely between local authorities and the Department:
We have funded Electronic Transfer of Data (ETD). This means that many millions of paper forms, previously sent by the Benefits Agency to local authorities through the post, are now sent electronically.
352 local authorities have signed up for the Royal Mail "Do not redirect" service funded by the Department. This prevents fraudsters having benefit mail redirected to a different address.
Reform of the anti-fraud financial incentive scheme is in progress, to ensure that local authorities can be rewarded for securing the end-to-end claims process.
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