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Departmental IT Projects

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the information technology projects being undertaken by his Department and agencies responsible to his Department, including (a) the start date, (b) the planned completion date, (c) the current expected completion date, (d) the planned cost and (e) the current estimated cost; and if he will make a statement. [99628]

Angela Eagle: The information is not available in the format requested. The information that is available is in the table.

The projects listed are those currently being undertaken by the Department where the IT cost exceeds £5 million. Also listed are lesser value projects with an IT content that are deemed to be critical to the Department's business.

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ProjectStart datePlanned completion datePlanned cost (£ million)
IT projects in development stage
DSS Year 2000 Programme(15)1 July 199731 March 2000(6)42.7
Site Backbone Upgrade (7)(15)November 1999June 20005.8
DSS Corporate IntranetJune 1999March 2001(8)1.2
CSA Operations Re-organisation Project (ORP)May 199831 March 200023.4
Decision Making and Appeals3 February 199829 November 199932
Working Families Tax Credit1 April 199822 February 200047.7
Data Protection/Freedom of Information Act(s)18 November 19981 December 200155.1
Resource Accounting and Budgeting1 September 199831 October 20001.5
Devolution (Scotland)1 April 199831 March 20002.8
PSCS/INCAP--Changes to SDA (SDA Reform)11 January 19991 April 20013.5
Disability Living Allowance Administrative Reforms20 April 1999(13)--70.1
Order Book Control Service (OBCS)--National Rollout Project5 July 1999(14)1 April 20059.3
IT projects in the planning stage
HQ Stakeholder Pensions Project (9), (15)December 1998April 200134
Child Support Reforms New Rules Implementation (10), (15)January 19992003(11)--
Bereavement Benefits(15)1 January 199930 April 200117
Payment Modernisation Programme(15) 21 May 199931 December 2005240
AMS(P) Pensions Forecasting Project19 January 199931 March 200120.1
State Second Pension (S2P)1 December 199930 April 200225.5
Jobseeker's Allowance--New Deal for Partners of the Unemployed1 October 19981 April 20006.4
Strategic Debt Solution Project1 September 19991 October 20003.9
IT procurement projects
ACCORD IS/IT Supply Programme (Office and Networks)June 1999April 2000(12)50+
Associated projects
ITSA Strategic Outsourcing Project12 October 19992000(11)--

(6) The planned Departmental cost is now £43.2 million. This is within the cost tolerance set by Treasury at +/- 5 per cent. or £1 million.

(7) "Site backbone" is the name given to the network components, hardware and software which provide high-speed volume connections between individual elements of the Departmental sites and into the Wide Area Networks linking the sites.

(8) Business case not yet approved.

(9) While this Department is funding the project, the IT is being provided by the Inland Revenue contract with EDS and their contract with NIRS2.

(10) This is also a procurement project.

(11) Not yet quantifiable; business case currently under development.

(12) Business case not yet approved. Costs likely to be in excess of £50 million.

(13) Ongoing--end date not known

(14) Latest

(15) "*" denotes projects with IT cost exceeding £5 million

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Social Security Helplines

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list all the social security helplines, with the number of calls received over the latest 12 month period. [99914]

Angela Eagle: The information is in the table.

Number of calls to social security helplines received during the period 1 October 1998 to 30 September 1999

Enquiry lineNumber of calls
Benefit Enquiry Line1,200,000
CSA National Enquiry Line2,857,171
DLA Helpline5,094,316
Family Credit Helpline3,546,876
Pensions Direct751,063
Disabled Person's Tax Credit Information Helpline98,756
Overseas Telephone Liaison(16)--
Child Benefit Enquiry Line2,174,715
War Pensions Helpline551,767
Winter Fuel Helpline200,847
CSA Client Helpline2,919,626

(16) Figure unavailable

Housing Benefit Fraud

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to ensure that local authorities carry out adequate checks on housing benefit claimants in order to reduce the amount of bogus claims. [101419]

Mr. Rooker: We inherited a flawed system which placed far too much emphasis on the detection of fraud once it had occurred. Working in partnership with local authorities, we are transforming the delivery of Housing Benefit by emphasising the importance of getting it right to begin with and keeping it right during the life of a claim.

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We are financing local authorities to focus on both the prevention and detection of fraud with the introduction of the Verification Framework. The Framework specifies the evidence which must be verified before a claim can be paid and sets out the checks which must be made during the life of a claim. We have made £100 million available to allow all local authorities to implement this important new initiative. So far, we have funded the implementation of the Framework in 223 local authorities. We want all local authorities to adopt the high standards set by the Framework and we have embarked on a programme to increase its take up, particularly among the highest spending authorities.

From 6 September 1999, with the application of Section 19 of the Fraud Act, all new claims for Housing Benefit are subject to tough new identity checks to ensure that all claimants can be linked with the appropriate National Insurance number.

As part of our strategy to ensure that local authorities have in place arrangements for the secure and accurate administration of Housing Benefit, we have instructed the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate to focus their attention on the 30 largest local authorities who between them account for almost a third of the total expenditure on Housing and Council Tax Benefit. These authorities will have been inspected or revisited by the summer of next year and a report will be published with recommendations on each authority which we will follow up. This will allow us to measure their progress in the fight against fraud.

We have also made good progress in preventing the significant amount of fraud which occurs when fraudsters make false claims and then redirect benefit mail from addresses at which they are not resident. The Royal Mail Do Not Redirect scheme was introduced nationally from 1 February this year and will stop the redirection of appropriately marked benefit mail. To date, over 200 local authorities have taken up this initiative and we are aiming that all authorities will adopt this service.

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Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many families were officially living in poverty (a) in each of the past 20 years, (b) on 1 May 1997 and (c) on the most recent date available. [101309]

Mr. Bayley: Poverty and social exclusion are complex multi-dimensional issues, affecting many aspects of people's lives; their income, health, housing, the quality of the environment, opportunities to work and to learn. There is no single measure which can capture the complex problems which need to be overcome.

We are determined to tackle the problems that condemn many individual and communities to poverty. That is why we set out our strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion in our first annual report "Opportunity for all" (Cm 4445). The report includes a range of indicators that capture many of the aspects of poverty and social exclusion.

Information on the indicators, including definitions and baseline data, was placed in the Library on 21 September to accompany "Opportunity for all". One of the indicators monitors the proportion of people living in low income households. Further information on low income statistics are published (annually in recent years) in Households Below Average Income (HBAI). The results can be found in the HBAI publication for the relevant year in the Library.

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