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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 19 November 2001, Official Report, column 150W, what has been the cost to public funds of the publications issued by his Department between 8 June and 26 October 2001. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Regular health and safety risk assessments and safety inspections are conducted to ensure the safety of staff in Benefits Agency offices. These assessments are reviewed whenever new services are introduced.
Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) Benefits Agency and (b) Job Centre staff have been assaulted at their place of work in each of the last seven years in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales, (d) Northern Ireland and (e) the Uxbridge constituency. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information requested is in the table. These cases cover all case of physical contact of any kind including throwing of small items or touching of any kind. Data are not held at constituency level and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
In recent years a possible under-reporting of incidents concerned both management and trade unions. An improved reporting form was introduced in April 1999, followed by a campaign by the Public and Commercial Services Union on reporting in 2000. The rise in reported incidents in the years from 1999 reflects this.
Data from before 1997 in the Benefits Agency and 1999 in the Employment Service are not broken down by country. The Department does not hold information on Northern Ireland as this is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
|Employment Service||Benefits Agency|
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Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 4 February 2002]: Over 20 million people pass through BA offices every year. Against that background, the table shows the number of cases of physical contact of any kind between a member of staff and a client (which could include spitting, the throwing of small items such as paper clips or rolled up forms, or touching of any kind), and those which did not involve any such contact. The second category includes verbal abuse, threats or incidents where clients damaged equipment.
In recent years, both management and trade unions became concerned by a possible under-reporting of incidents. An improved reporting form was introduced in April 1999, followed by a PCS campaign on reporting in 2000. As the PCS accepts, in their evidence to the Social Security Select Committee, the rise in reported incidents in the calendar years 2000 and 2001 reflects this.
|Year||Cases of physical contact||Cases not involving physical contact|
1. Following further investigation of data held for 1999 and 2000 these figures have been revised.
2. For 2001 the figures are based on information to date. These figures are based on the reports so far received, other incidents may have occurred but may not yet have been reported.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what discussions he has had with staff representatives about the impact of the introduction of Jobcentre Plus on staffing levels; 
(3) whether job losses will result from the integration of the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service; and how many of these will be (a) enforced redundancies, (b) voluntary redundancies and (c) early retirement; 
(4) how many people employed by the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service will be moving to take up employment in new Jobcentre Plus offices; and what the timetable for such movements is. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Chief Executives of the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service wrote to all staff on 23 April 2001. They reassured staff that a key aim in developing plans for Jobcentre Plus and the Pension Service would be to enable all current staff to have a job in the new organisations or one of the other agencies in the Department.
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Currently some 112,000 employees work in the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service. In April this year some 90,000 staff will move from the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service to Jobcentre Plus with the remainder moving to the Pension Service and a small number moving to other parts of the Department.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been paid in interim payments to benefit claimants who would otherwise have been affected by the strike in Jobcentre Plus offices; and how many claimants have received interim payments. 
Malcolm Wicks: As at 11 February an estimated £3.2 million had been paid in interim payments to customers affected by the industrial action since the dispute began. The number of customers in total that have received interim payments since the start of industrial action is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Around 4,700 customers are currently in receipt of weekly or fortnightly interim payments.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 8 January 2002 to the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb), Official Report, column 688W, on incapacity benefit, what information the Government collect about people who claim incapacity benefit at Jobcentre Plus offices. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Jobcentre Plus collect information about people claiming benefits according to which client group they belong to. Information collected about the incapacitated or disabled persons client group, which includes incapacity benefit customers, includes the number of these people:
Attending work-focused interviews;
Failing to attend work-focused interviews;
Having their work-focused interview deferred or waived;
Attending review meetings;
Referred to the new deal for disabled people;
Applying for a job;
Moving into work;
Taking a place on training courses; and
Leaving the system and, where possible, the reasons why.
Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what action the Government will take to facilitate the provision of (a) housing and (b) council tax benefit to single mothers who are deemed ineligible for such benefits on the grounds of co-tenanting the same premises with a member of the opposite sex with whom they have no relations; 
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Malcolm Wicks: Housing benefit and council tax benefit (HB/CTB) are income-related benefits and entitlement is calculated by looking at an individual's circumstances and income. HB/CTB claims from people who are joint tenants are treated in the same way as any other HB/CTB claim. It is a long-standing principle of the benefits system that where a person is a member of a married couple, or of an unmarried couple who are living together as husband and wife, the income and circumstances of their partner are taken into account when considering income-related benefit entitlement.
We have no current plans to change these arrangements. The benefit treatment of same-sex couples will however be examined in the context of the interdepartmental study of civil partnership registration, announced by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, on 28 November 2001, Official Report, column 903W.
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