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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people living in (a) the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and (b) the constituency of Newcastle upon Tyne, Central were in receipt of income- related benefits in (a) May 1996 and (b) each subsequent year to 2001, broken down by those of (i) pensionable and (ii) working age. 
Malcolm Wicks: The available information is in the tables. A large proportion of people in receipt of the income-related benefits referred to in the first table may also be in receipt of housing benefit and council tax benefit.
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|City of Newcastle upon Tyne local authority area||Newcastle upon Tyne, Central parliamentary constituency|
|Pension age||Working age||Pension age||Working age|
1. Income-related benefits include income support (IS), jobseeker's allowance (income based), family credit (FC) and disability working allowance (DWA). IS, jobseeker's allowance (JSA) and FC figures are based on 5 per cent. samples and are subject to a degree of sampling variation. DWA figures are from 100 per cent. count.
2. JSA was introduced in October 1996 to replace unemployment benefit and IS for the unemployed.
3. FC and DWA were replaced by tax credits in October 1999 which are the responsibility of the Inland Revenue.
4. Pension age is defined as cases where the recipient and/or partner is aged 60 and over for IS and JSA and the recipient is aged 60 and over for DWA and FC. Working age is defined as cases where both the recipient and partner are under age 60 for IS and JSA and the recipient is aged under 60 for DWA and FC.
5. Parliamentary constituency data are not available prior to 1997.
1. Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, May 19962001.
2. Jobseeker's Allowance Quarterly Enquiry, May 19972001.
3. Family Credit Statistics, May 199699.
4. Disability Working Allowance Statistics, May 199699.
|Housing benefit||Council tax benefit|
1. The figures refer to recipients, which may be a single person, a couple or a family. They have been rounded to the nearest 10 cases.
2. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases.
3. Nationally approximately 80 per cent. of housing benefit recipients also receive council tax benefit, therefore there will be a significant overlap between recipients of housing benefit and council tax benefit.
4. Figures for housing benefit and council tax benefit are not available by parliamentary constituency.
5. A split of cases by client group is not available at local authority level.
Housing benefit and council tax benefit Management Information System, quarterly 100 per cent. case load count, taken in May of each year from 1996 to 2001.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: We are transforming the welfare system from a passive organisation paying out benefits to an active system that fights poverty, creates opportunity and helps people become self sufficient and independent.
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For people of working age we are taking a single approach to work and benefits to make work pay, make work possible and to support those who cannot work. This service will be delivered through Jobcentre Plusa personal service with one goal: helping people of working age to live independent lives.
People making new or repeat claims to Incapacity Benefit in Jobcentre Plus Pathfinder offices are required to attend a work-focused meeting. These meetings provide disabled people with the opportunity to discuss with their personal adviser the help, benefits and opportunities available to them. We are ensuring that no-one is written off, or allowed to write themselves off. But we will not force people with disabilities into work and people who are eligible for Incapacity Benefit will receive it.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy for the general practitioner case notes of claimants for incapacity benefit to be used as evidence in support of such claims. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: People who claim a state incapacity benefit will at some point have their entitlement reviewed under the personal capability assessment (PCA). A lack of good quality information about a customer's medical condition can in some cases mean that seriously ill people, who should be completely exempted from the PCA procedures, are not identified as early as they could be. We also believe that better quality medical information would enable more customers to be correctly assessed under the PCA without the need for a medical examination.
Currently the customer's own doctor, usually their general practitioner (GP) will be asked to provide the Department's medical officer with a short factual report or a special statement containing clinical details. Working in collaboration with the Department's contractor, SchlumbergerSema Medical Services, we are currently piloting an alternative evidence gathering procedure in the Sheffield and Rotherham areas. With the permission of customers and GPs in the pilot areas, we are testing whether using GP medical records will provide the Department's medical officer with better factual information to advise the decision maker. We will be carefully evaluating this pilot to see whether there are benefits in terms of improved customer service and more robust and accurate decision making. The evaluation will be used to inform any future decisions on the use of GP casenotes in relation to benefit assessments.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many doctors are employed (a) full- time and (b) part-time to conduct medical examinations of claimants for incapacity benefit. 
Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to official strikes at Friction Dynamics and elsewhere, if he will make it his policy not to allow the display of job advertisements in job centres where the clear intention of the employer is to recruit labour for the purpose of strike-breaking. 
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Mr. Nicholas Brown: Jobcentres are instructed to remain neutral in cases where an employer is involved in a trade dispute and so vacancies are still taken and displayed by Jobcentres and on the internet job bank. In such circumstances, jobseekers who wish to apply for the vacancy are told that a dispute is in progress so that they can decide for themselves whether to apply.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of young people who have moved from the NDYP into sustained employment and who leave such employment without claiming jobseeker's allowance within 12 months. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The measure of whether a young person's job is sustained is based on their subsequent claims of jobseeker's allowance. No estimate has been made of the number who leave sustained employment and do not return to jobseeker's allowance within 12 months.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) clinical audit, (b) clinical governance and (c) quality control procedures are in force at the Benefits Agency Medical Services. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Clinical governance within the NHS requires organisations to take a corporate approach to quality and performance. This is the approach which the Government expects Medical Services to take in seeking continuously to improve and develop a customer- focused service able to deliver the specified standards of quality.
Medical Services carry out regular quality audit, by peer review, of the standard of medical reports provided by doctors engaged to work for them. Each doctor has his or her work audited at least once a year. Medical Services also carry out regular customer satisfaction surveys. The outcomes of audit and customer surveys are reported regularly to the Department and are validated by the Department's doctors on behalf of the Chief Medical Adviser.
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