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Means-tested Benefits

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the policy of the Benefits Agency is with respect to claimants of means-tested benefits who state that they are being paid less than the hourly minimum wage. [149797]

Angela Eagle: As a general principle in the case of income-related benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance and Income Support, people doing work should receive the appropriate wage for the services they provide. When this does not happen and the burden of their financial support falls on the taxpayer it is reasonable to assume that an appropriate amount of earnings, called notional earnings, are being paid and to offset that against benefit entitlement.

The total amount of earnings taken into account would normally be at least equal to the rate of the national minimum wage applicable to the person concerned. To do otherwise would in many circumstances amount to subsidising the employer through public funds.

Benefit Claimants (Wales)

Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) grants and (b) loans were (i) awarded and (ii) refused to benefit claimants in Wales in each of the last three years. [149788]

9 Feb 2001 : Column: 784W

Angela Eagle: The information is in the tables.

Social Fund Grants--Wales

YearNumber of awardsNumber of refusals

Social Fund Loans--Wales

YearNumber of awardsNumber of refusals


1. The numbers of awards made after review are not included in the table.

2. The fall in the number of Community Care Grant refusals and the increase in Budgeting Loan refusals in 1999-2000 reflects the changes in the numbers of applications following the introduction of the new Budgeting Loan scheme in April 1999.

3. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.


Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2001, Official Report, column 502W, on benefit fraud, when he expects to be able to provide estimates of housing benefit fraud detected, expressed as a proportion of housing benefit expenditure for each local authority for 1999-2000. [149651]

Mr. Rooker: The information requested for 1999-2000 should be available in spring 2001.

Winter Fuel Payment

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) inquiries and (b) complaints have been received from people aged 60 years and over who have been incorrectly assessed as living with another person over 60 years for the purpose of assessing eligibility to the Winter Fuel Payment in each year since 1997. [146359]

Mr. Rooker: The administration of Winter Fuel Payments is a matter for Alexis Cleveland, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. David Willetts, dated 8 February 2001: