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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General how many staff in her Department's press office have received (a) termination and (b) redundancy payments in each of the last four years. 
The Solicitor-General: In my own Department, the legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, no staff in the press office have received termination or redundancy payments in each of the last four years.
In the Departments for which the Attorney General is responsible, details are as follows:
The Crown Prosecution Service has made no termination or redundancy payments to any of its Press Office staff in each of the last four years.
Treasury Solicitor's Department
The Treasury Solicitor's Department does not have a dedicated press office. Any press matters are dealt with by the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers' press officer.
The Serious Fraud Office has made no termination or redundancy payments to any of its Press Office staff in each of the last four years.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the (a) annual cost and (b) total value of the empty properties owned by
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(i) his Department, (ii) its agencies and (iii) other public bodies for which he has had responsibility in each of the last four years. 
Mr. McCartney: The estimate of the annual cost and total value of empty properties owned by the Department and its agencies for the last four years is set out in the table. The figures relate solely to the former ES part of the DWP estate. The value of these properties has been consistently reducing; when last recorded that accounted for only 0.7 per cent. of total property owned.
|£thousand||Percentage of total cost/value of the estate|
The former DSS estate was transferred (for value) via the PRIME PFI project to Land Securities Trillium on 1 April 1998. Since this date the majority of buildings on the former DSS part of the DWP estate has been occupied as serviced accommodation on an as required basis. We have no vacant space as all such accommodation is surrendered to the service provider and the Department only pays for the space it occupies in these buildings.
In 199798 DSS had vacant estate with an annual cost of £21,755,150 and a value of £2,896,800. On 1 April 1998 Land Securities Trillium paid £2,896,800 for these vacant properties and assumed responsibility for all costs thereafter.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the additional cost would be of the basic state pension in (a) 2010, (b) 2020, (c) 2030, (d) 2040 and (e) 2050 if, in one year out of every two, the inflation rate were (i) 2 per cent. and (ii) 1.5 per cent. 
Mr. McCartney: The information is in the table.
|2 per cent. inflation||1.5 per cent. inflation|
1. Figures are gross cost for GB rounded to the nearest £50 million.
2. Figures in 200102 prices.
3. Figures based on latest Government Actuary's Department statistics which takes account of the change in the state pension age for women.
4. Additional costs are based on the assumption that basic state pension would increase by 2.5 per cent. in the long run (as stated in the PBR).
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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on progress of the consultations with local authority associations on the recovery of overpaid housing benefit from landlords further to paragraph 38 of the response by the DSS to the Social Security Committee report on housing benefit Cm4869. 
Malcolm Wicks: Following consultation with the local authority associations, we amended housing benefit regulations to change the rule that overpaid benefit was in all cases recoverable from the person to whom it was paid. From 1 October 2001 where the landlord has been responsible for alerting the local authority in writing to the suspected overpayment, there appears to have been a fraud, and there is no evidence of landlord collusion, any resulting overpayment will not be recoverable from the landlord.
Landlords have an important role in preventing fraud. Those receiving direct payments of benefit already had a statutory responsibility to report changes in their tenant's circumstances, which they could have reasonably been expected to know. This measure encourages landlords to be vigilant and report their suspicions of fraud without fear of financial disincentive.
John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) on what dates statutory criteria were first issued to facilitate and determine the level of payment of industrial injuries disablement benefit for those suffering from spinal injury; 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The assessment of disablement for the purposes of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit was introduced in 1948 by the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946 on recommendations made by the Beveridge report. This principle is a fundamental part of the industrial injuries scheme and has been carried through to the current legislation, which is covered at schedule 6 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992. Further definition of the principles of assessment and prescribed degrees of disablement are in Schedule 2 of the Social Security (General Benefit) Regulations 1982.
The assessment of disablement is made by comparing the person claiming benefit with a person of the same age and sex whose physical and mental condition is normal. If, as in the case of a spinal injury, the degree of disablement is not prescribed within the regulations, the medical assessor will try to equate the disablement to those covered in the schedule.
There have been no recent changes to the legislation.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were seconded between (a) BP, (b) Shell, (c) Enron, (d) Exxon-Mobil, (e) Conoco,
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(f) Texaco and (g) TotalFinaElf and his Department in (i) 19992000, (ii) 200001 and (iii) April 2001 to the latest date for which figures are available. 
Maria Eagle: No staff have been seconded between the Department (or the Employment Service or the former Department of Social Security) and the organisations listed from 1999 to the present date.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many attacks on staff have taken place at employment centres in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many incidents of (a) physical and (b) verbal assaults have been recorded in (i) Benefit Agency offices and (ii) Employment Service offices in each year since 1997; how many have been recorded in Jobcentre Plus offices in each month since the inception of Jobcentre Plus; and how many were recorded in the equivalent offices prior to the inception of Jobcentre Plus. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many physical assaults there have been on Benefits Agency and Employment Service staff in each of the last four years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 5 and 6 February 2002]: The available information on the breakdown of incidents in the last five years is set out in the table. The figures reflect the improvements that have been made in recent years in gathering statistics on incidents. 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 during 2000. The rise in reported incidents in the years from 1999 reflects this. As well as verbal abuse or threatening behaviour, non-physical incidents include cases of customers fighting or arguing with each other, in which no member of staff was involved, and occasions when only equipment or furniture was damaged. Employment Service offices are visited by around 25 million people per year and Benefits Agency offices by around 20 million.
|Employment Service||Benefits Agency|
Since the launch of the Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices last October, only one case of physical contact has been recorded: a customer trod on the foot of a member of staffpossibly accidentally. There have been 148 incidents in which no physical contact was made, 145 of which involved verbal abuse and three attempted assault (attempted assaults includes cases where items are thrown but do not hit anyone, or when a customer reaches towards a member of staff but does not make contact).
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During this period we estimate that approximately three-quarters of a million people have visited pathfinder offices. The monthly breakdown is in the table:
|Month||Cases involving physical contact in Pathfinder offices||Cases involving no physical contact in Pathfinder offices|
In 2001, up to the launch of Jobcentre Plus on 22 October, there were 14 instances of physical contact between a Benefits Agency or Employment Service member of staff and a customer in the offices that subsequently became Pathfinders.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what further risk assessments have been carried out on the new Jobcentre Plus offices since their establishment; and if they have resulted in the deployment of extra security measures or staff. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 5 March 2002]: Review risk assessments have now been completed in all of the Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices that have opened since 22 October 2001. No additional security staff have been recommended as a result of these assessments.
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