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RUC (Redundancies)

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many RUC officers have accepted voluntary redundancy under the recently introduced terms; how many have left to date on voluntary redundancy terms; how many officers whose applications for voluntary redundancy have been accepted have still to leave; and over what period they will be leaving. [152383]

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Mr. Ingram: The number of officers who have left the Royal Ulster Constabulary under voluntary severance terms up to 3 March 2001 was 367. A further 116 officers will be leaving during the period 4-31 March.

The closing date for acceptance to the second phase of the scheme is 31 March 2001.


Child Support Agency

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many complaints were made against decisions of the Child Support Agency in 2000. [152681]

Angela Eagle: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Doug Smith to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 13 March 2001:

Table 1: Number of customer complaints received 1999-2000


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Table 2: Categorisation of customer complaints 1999-2000

PolicyIncorrect actionDelay/failure to take appropriate actionComplaints about staffDisclosure of informationGood causeCommunicationHuman Rights Act
In month
Year to date

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Mr. Martin Bell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the impact on the weekly pensions of men aged 60 to 64 who, had they been women, would have qualified to receive the state pension, of allocating to them the funds for the proposed increase to existing pensioners. [153500]

Mr. Rooker: A man cannot draw State Retirement Pension before he reaches State pension age. Therefore no estimate has been made.

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the practice of pension clawback by companies operating occupational pension schemes. [153671]

Mr. Rooker: Occupational pension provision is voluntary, and it is for employers to decide the nature of the scheme and the benefits provided. The decision as to whether a scheme should continue to operate on an integrated basis, or if not, how and when integration should be abolished, is a matter for employers.

Civil Servants (Salary Increases)

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the average percentage increase in salaries of non-industrial civil servants, excluding members of the Senior Civil Service, was in his Department for 2000-01. [152790]

Mr. Rooker: The headline pay settlement was 2.6 per cent. on the pay bill and, together with the additional funds from staff turnover, staff in post received increases averaging 4.5 per cent.

National Insurance Numbers

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action will be taken to identify and remove

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inaccurate, duplicate and fraudulent national insurance numbers once the Data Cleansing Project comes to an end. [152437]

Mr. Rooker: The Data Cleansing Project removed 182,000 National Insurance numbers (NINOs) during the last financial year--more than during the whole of the last Parliament.

The Data Cleansing Project will move from departmental project status to departmental core business status on 31 March. Therefore the process of analysing our database to identify and remove inaccurate, duplicate and fraudulent NINOs will continue at current levels as part of our core business.

In addition, from 31 March onwards there will be a rollout of an enhanced process for allocating NINOs. The new process will involve far more stringent tests before a NINO is allocated thus preventing fraud and error entering the system in the first place.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many national insurance numbers on the Departmental Central Index relate to people (a) now deceased, (b) who live abroad and receive no benefits, (c) who live abroad and receive benefits and (d) aged under 16 years. [152438]

Mr. Rooker: There are approximately 13.5 million records on DCI holding a date of death. These are needed in case spouses make claims on their deceased partner's contributions.

Figures have never been kept on the number of records for people who live abroad and receive no benefits. These records are held in the event that people subsequently return and make a claim to benefit.

Benefit is currently paid to approximately 2 million customers including their dependants resident overseas.

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There are approximately 12.5 million numbers held on DCI for children under 16. These become proper National Insurance Numbers when the child reaches 16.

Invalid Care Allowance

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the cost of exempting Invalid Care Allowance from the overlapping benefits rules (a) entirely and (b) with respect to retirement pension. [152330]

Mr. Bayley: It is estimated that for the year 2002-03 the cost of abolishing the overlapping benefits rules for ICA recipients (a) entirely would be £450 million and (b) for those over state pension age only, £400 million.

The rules on overlapping benefits have been a feature of social security benefit payments since 1948 and prevent more than one benefit intended to meet the same need being paid at the same time.

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