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Disability and Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what work (a) is being and (b) has been carried out by his Department to develop a method of

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collecting information on (i) the number of people claiming incapacity benefit who are re-tested and (ii) the frequency with which they are re-tested; [5211]

Malcolm Wicks: We already monitor the number of re-tests carried out and are always looking at ways to improve this information.

As announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 11 July 2001, Official Report, column 567, we will discuss with groups representing disabled people the precise administrative arrangements that will underpin the proposed changes to Incapacity Benefit.

Mr. Tony Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people on Incapacity Benefit have not been subject to a medical to assess capacity for work for (a) 10, (b) 15 and (c) 20 years; and what proportion this represents of total numbers of Incapacity Benefit recipients. [3465]

Malcolm Wicks: The majority of Incapacity Benefit recipients will have undergone a Personal Capability Assessment (known as the All Work Test before April 2000) to assess their capacity for work, which may have involved a medical examination. While data are kept on the number of medical examinations conducted, information is not available in the format requested.

The proposed changes to Incapacity Benefit will shift the emphasis from disability to ability. People will be provided with help and guidance to move from benefit to work where they are able and wish to do so.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of people awarded short- term Incapacity Benefit have subsequently been awarded the long-term rate for an indefinite period in each of the last three years. [3224]

Malcolm Wicks: The available information is in the table.

Percentage of people awarded Incapacity Benefit at the short-term rate who subsequently became entitled to benefit at the long-term rate

1 April 1996 to 31 March 199749
1 April 1997 to 31 March 199848
1 April 1998 to 31 March 199948


1. Figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample of claims to benefit.

2. Entitlement to Incapacity Benefit was subject to the All Work Test during the period covered by this table (this was replaced by the Personal Capability Assessment from April 2000) unless the person was an exempt category. Long-term rate Incapacity Benefit is payable after 52 weeks of incapacity.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in receipt of (a) Incapacity Benefit, (b) Disability Living Allowance and (c) Severe Disability Allowance have had their benefit (i) cut and (ii) removed altogether following a Benefits Agency medical assessment in each of the last three years. [4346]

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Malcolm Wicks: The available information is in the table.

There is no provision within the Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance schemes to award benefit at a reduced rate following a medical examination.

Number of cases where entitlement to Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) ceased following a personal capability assessment(22)

1 March 1999 to 29 February 2000
1 March 2000 to 28 February 2001

(22) All work test prior to April 2000


1. National Insurance credits only cases are included in these figures

2. Data are not available for 1998–99

3. Analogous data are not available for Disability Living Allowance


5 per cent. sample (excluding a small number of clerically held cases)

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate, for each local authority, the total amount saved in benefit expenditure in the most recent year for which figures are available arising from anti-fraud initiatives; what this figure was as a percentage of the total expenditure on social security benefits administered by each local authority; and what his aggregate estimate is for Great Britain. [4062]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 July 2001]: We aim to ensure that all our anti-fraud initiatives are effective in combating fraud and error. It is not possible to quantify the precise savings arising from our anti-fraud initiatives. We can measure the amount of savings from fraud that we have discovered and estimate how much is saved by our preventive initiatives.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff have been employed at the Benefits Fraud Investigations Services, on average, in each year since 1997; and how many positions are vacant. [2259]

Malcolm Wicks: We set out our strategy for tackling fraud and error in the paper—"A New Contract for Welfare: Safeguarding Social Security" (CM 4276)—published on 23 March 1999. The overall aim of the strategy is to have a benefit system which is secure from first claim to final payment. The implementation of this strategy means that an anti-fraud focus is integral to the work of the Department, not just those staff involved in detecting fraud that has already occurred.

The number of staff employed in BFIS since 1997 is shown in the table.

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Average number of BFIS staff employed in each year


There were 313 vacant posts in BFIS at 9 July 2001. We are in competition with a number of agencies locally for staff with the right skills, however, the number of vacancies is expected to reduce over the next quarter due to promotion and recruitment exercises currently being undertaken.

Benefits Agency Medical Services

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the three Benefits Agency Medical Services contracts awarded to SEMA with particular reference to their impact on (a) management and investment in BAMS, (b) the delivery of service improvements to customers including speedier appointments and reduced waiting times, (c) the maintenance and improvement of quality of service and (d) the value for money offered to the taxpayer. [4404]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 July 2001]: All contracts awarded by the Department give due regard to value for money and quality of service. They are kept under continuous review to ensure that throughout the lifetime of the contract targets are met. The contracts awarded to SchlumbergerSema include targets on the length of the time taken to clear cases and reduce waiting times.

Winter Fuel Payment

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people received the year 2000 winter fuel payment; and what the total cost was. [4528]

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Mr. McCartney: Over 11 million winter fuel payments were made last winter, 2000–01, at a cost of £1.7 billion.

Invalid Care Allowance

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the age limit on women in receipt of retirement state pension and able to claim invalid care allowance was reduced to 60 years; for what reasons this change was made; and if he will make a statement. [4112]

Mr. McCartney: From the introduction of Invalid Care Allowance in 1976 until 1994 the age limit for claiming the benefit was "pensionable age", which was 65 for men and 60 for women. On 28 October 1994 the maximum age at which Invalid Care Allowance could be claimed was changed from "pensionable age" to "age 65" in order to provide equality of treatment for both men and women. A woman can, therefore, claim Invalid Care Allowance between the ages of 60 and 65 while receiving State Retirement Pension.

Retirement Pension and Invalid Care Allowance are both intended to help maintain income to avoid duplicate provision; however, the payment of the pension may extinguish or reduce the payment of the Invalid Care Allowance. On 3 October 2000 we announced that carers aged 65 and over would also be allowed to claim Invalid Care Allowance and this will be introduced as soon as possible.

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