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Child Benefit

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many child benefit payments have been (a) suspended pending further inquiries and (b) terminated as a consequence of this summer's identity confirmation exercise; and what proportion each figure constitutes of the number of claimants for each region of the UK. [10565]

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Malcolm Wicks: The Department carries out a number of initiatives to confirm identity information each year. An initiative to which this question may be referring is one that checks a sample number of child benefit recipients who receive payment by automated credit transfer.

This initiative is continuing and the latest figures available are for the period June 2000 to March 2001:

Information is not available on the number of payments terminated or on a regional basis.

Benefit Take-up

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate he has made of the total annual amount of unclaimed benefit, broken down by individual benefits, in (a) Scotland and (b) the United Kingdom. [10755]

Malcolm Wicks: Information is available only for Great Britain. This is contained in the publication "Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 1999/2000", a copy of which is in the Library.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how the reports on (a) take-up of income-related benefits and (b) households below average income in 1999–2000 can be accessed through his Department's website; and if he will take steps to clarify the procedure to be followed by users of the site. [13725]

Mr. McCartney: Reports on the take-up of income- related benefits can be found at: asd/tu9900f.pdf

The households below average income survey can be found at: hbai/index.htm

An improved Department for Work and Pensions website will be launched in December. The homepage of this site will include a link to research reports produced by the Department.

Disability Benefit

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disability benefit claimants there are in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) the constituency of Gordon; and how many disability benefit claimants will be liable to attend work-focused interviews as a result of the Social Security (Jobcentre Plus Interviews) Regulations 2001 in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) the constituency of Gordon. [11496]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Jobcentre Plus will ensure that for the first time there is a single gateway to the benefit system for people of working age. We want to make sure that everyone of working age has the opportunity to find out what support is available to help them to work. At the same time, this gives us the opportunity to get more help to people who cannot work.

National roll out of Jobcentre Plus will start next year. At present, only people of working age living within areas that are served by Jobcentre Plus pathfinders or work-focused interview sites making new or repeat claims

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will be required to attend a work-focused interview. No such office is currently serving the Gordon constituency. Information on the number of people who have attended interviews since Pathfinder offices were opened on 22 October will be available in December.

The number of people of working age claiming benefit on the basis of sickness or disability is in the table.

May 2001
Great Britain2,984.1


1. Working age is 16–59 for women and 16–64 for men. The table includes people claiming incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance, disability living allowance and income support with the disability premium.

2. Cases are allocated to each Parliamentary Constituency by matching the postcode against the 2000 version 1 of the Postcode Directory and represent Parliamentary Constituency boundaries as at May 1997.

3. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

4. Figures for Northern Ireland are not included. Social security matters in Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


Client Group Analysis of DWP Information Centre 5 per cent. statistical samples relating to May 2001.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many representations he has received from individual local authorities, local government associations and pressure groups on the administrative complexity of the housing benefit/council tax benefit system. [12946]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 14 November 2001]: Information on representations made to the Department is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Medical Assessments

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the work conducted by SEMA doctors on behalf of his Department in Cambridgeshire; and if he will make a statement. [17479]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The work of all SchlumbergerSema doctors on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions is closely monitored by SchlumbergerSema and the Department. The performance of doctors in Cambridgeshire has in general met the required standards and no major issues of concern over quality standards have emerged. Where monitoring identifies there is room for improvement of a doctor's performance, appropriate feedback is given to the doctor concerned.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the extension of SEMA's contract. [18227]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Chryston (Mr. Clarke) on 22 November 2001, Official Report, column 447W.

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Basic Pension

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to review the £85 pension threshold for clawback of incapacity benefit. [14365]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 13 November 2001]: While we keep all social security benefits constantly under review we have no plans to change the threshold at which occupational and personal pensions are taken into account in assessing incapacity benefit for new claims.

Disabled People (Heating Costs)

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent studies he has (a) conducted and (b) commissioned into the exceptional heating costs of different categories of disabled persons. [14366]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 13 November 2001]: The Department itself has not conducted or commissioned studies of this sort. For England the main source of information on fuel poverty is the five-yearly English House Condition Survey (ECHS). The survey does not look at the different categories of disabled persons. The latest edition for which figures on fuel poverty are available relates to 1996. Figures for households in fuel poverty in 1998 have been produced from the 1998 Energy Follow Up Survey to the English House Condition Survey, although the analysis available from this survey is more limited than that from the ECHS.

The UK Poverty Strategy, published by the Government in February 2001, aims to seek an end to fuel poverty and the first priority is to ensure that by 2010 no vulnerable household in the UK need risk ill health due to a cold home.

Hospital Downrating

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many persons had their state pensions cut as a result of a hospital stay of more than (a) six weeks and (b) 52 weeks in each year since May 1997. [14384]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

The number of people as of 31 March in each individual year with their pension downrated was:

Number downrated
6–52 weeksOver 52 weeksTotal
March 199819,00013,00032,000
March 199920,00012,00032,000
March 200022,00010,00032,000
March 200123,00010,00033,000


1. Figures rounded to nearest 1,000

2. Information is not available prior to 1997–98

3. Administrative data only records information at an individual point in time. It is therefore not possible to give the total number of people that have their pension downrated during the course of a year, only the total number at a particular point in time.

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Automated Credit Transfer

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 26 October 2001, Official Report, column 442W, on benefit payouts (ACT), what information is collected about benefit recipients and automated credit transfer. [15173]

Malcolm Wicks: Statistical information, by benefit, is collected quarterly and annually on the number of customers currently receiving benefit by ACT in GB and overseas. Data are also collected on the number of GB customers choosing ACT when they make a new claim to benefit. Historical data on the percentage of new and existing GB customers receiving payment by ACT are also collated.

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Currently around 40 per cent. of customers choose ACT as their method of payment.

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