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Private Finance Initiative

Bob Russell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 15 January 2002, Official Report, column 172W, what progress has been made with the PFI scheme for a new court house in Colchester. [28677]

Mr. Wills: Work on completing the outline business case for the provision of new and refurbished magistrates courts across Essex is in progress. It is anticipated that the business case will be ready for submission to the Essex magistrates courts committee, its paying authorities, my Department and the Office of Government Commerce's project review group for approval by the end of February.


Benefit Costs

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimates are of the administrative costs, in total and per claimant household, of (a) child benefit and (b) working families tax credit. [11672]

Malcolm Wicks: Child benefit is a universal, non- means tested payment made to families regardless of the level of income. The latest estimates for child benefit are that the total administrative cost is 1 £125 million, or an average cost per family of £0.34 per week.

WFTC is an individually assessed, income-related payment made to families with children where at least one partner works for at least 16 hours a week. The amount of the payment is dependent upon a range of factors including the hours worked, the size of the family and the age of the children. It may also take account of expenditure the family incurs in respect of child care. It is administered by the Inland Revenue; and they estimate that the total administrative cost is £133.8 million (£1.92 per family per week). I understand that they will publish further figures shortly.

Benefits (Belgium)

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the speed with which (a) UK nationals who have worked in Belgium but live in UK and (b) Belgians who have worked in UK get benefit claims dealt with by the Belgian authorities; [17375]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on the time taken to process benefit claims from UK nationals which rely on contribution records from the Belgian authorities could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Information on the

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speed with which benefit claims from Belgian nationals are dealt with by the Belgian authorities is solely a matter for those authorities.

As at 30 November 2001 there are two people living in Great Britain and in receipt of income-based jobseeker's allowance while we are awaiting details of their contribution record from the Belgian authorities. The Northern Ireland Assembly is responsible for social security matters in Northern Ireland.

Income Support

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will rank each local authority area in England by the percentage fall in the number of households claiming income support between March 1997 and March 2001. [17771]

Malcolm Wicks: The available information has been placed in the Library.

Social Exclusion

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate has been made of the administrative cost to the (a) state, (b) unsuccessful applicants and (c) successful applicants of the competitive grant schemes, provided by his Department and its agencies open in each year since 1997 to organisations in the voluntary and community sector for the purposes of tackling social exclusion; [22401]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Angela Eagle) on 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 482W and 8 January 2002, Official Report, columns 783–84W.

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Benefit Fraud

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) the constituency of Buckingham and (b) the UK have been prosecuted twice or more for benefit fraud in each year since 1992. [22522]

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) the Epsom and Ewell constituency and (b) the UK have been prosecuted at least twice for benefit fraud in each year since 1992. [23426]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on benefit fraud at constituency level is not available. Nationally, our research suggests that approximately 5 per cent. of prosecutions involve a person with a previous conviction for benefit fraud. We are putting in place mechanisms to identify second and further convictions.

Age Discrimination

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on age discrimination in financial services. [23218]

Mr. McCartney: We have recognised the importance of tackling age discrimination in employment sectors, including the financial services sector. That is why we have targeted this sector among others, as part of our age positive campaign. Through working with Age Champions, we have been challenging ageism in the financial sector by promoting the business benefits of age positive employment practices. We are considering ways of strengthening the campaign over the coming year.

Our new website,, includes initial research we have undertaken to identify ageist employment practices across a range of sectors which include financial services. The research is also available in the Library.

Benefit Application Forms

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many benefit application forms his Department and agencies produce; to which benefits these forms relate; and if he will place copies of each form in the Library. [24213]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: There are 64 benefit application forms produced by the Department for Work and Pensions. These relate to the following benefits:

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Copies of all forms have been placed in the Library.

Winter Fuel Payments

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people living in tenements in Scotland have received half their entitlement to the winter fuel payment because of a computer error relating to residents in separate tenement flats at the same street number; and what action is being taken to ensure they are paid their full entitlement as soon as possible and that the problem will not recur. [25871]

Mr. McCartney: To ensure all eligible people in a household receive the correct level of winter fuel payment, the addresses are matched to ascertain how many people live at each address. The Department is aware that there have been problems regarding people living in tenements in Scotland and, to alleviate this, the Department clerically matches the addresses in areas where there are many tenement flats. This should ensure that the correct payment is made, and this system ought to prevent problems reoccurring. We are unable to provide the figure in the form requested but where an underpayment has come to light, corrective action has been taken.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much money is estimated to have been overpaid in winter fuel payments in each year since 1997 (a) to people who have been paid more than they are entitled and (b) to people who are ineligible for the benefit; and how much of this money has been recovered. [27762]

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

The Department makes every effort to ensure that addresses are matched with household composition to avoid overpayments. Where we become aware of either overpayments or underpayments, corrective action is taken to put it right and prevent this reoccurring.

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