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Medway Unitary Authority

Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish the inspection report of the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate in respect of Medway Unitary Authority. [65242]

Malcolm Wicks: The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate's (BFI) report on Medway Unitary Authority was published today and copies of the report have been placed in the Library.

Inspectors found that the council's previous good performance had been adversely affected by a number of factors including the move of staff to a central location, the loss of staff to a neighbouring authority and the introduction of a new IT system. This has led to a backlog of work. The council recognised these shortfalls and put in place proposals to tackle the backlog and address many of the other problems.

The report notes that the council needed to implement its stated aim to increase awareness of housing benefits. The council had run no take-up campaigns since 1999.

Inspectors found that most staff applied a high standard of scrutiny to claims, but limited management checking removed any means of identifying inconsistency and training needs.

There was a high level of accuracy in classifying overpayments but some improvements were needed in overpayment recovery.

Medway's fraud investigations unit is experienced and some good quality investigation work had been done.

Medway administered some £51 million in housing benefits in 2000–01.

The report makes recommendations to help the council address weaknesses and to improve the administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit, as well as counter fraud activities.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is now considering the report and will be asking the council for its proposals in response to the findings and recommendations of the BFI.

TREASURY

Performance Targets

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what targets he has accepted through public service agreements with (a) the Isle of Wight council, (b) Lewisham council and (c) Staffordshire county council; and what steps he takes to monitor those targets or audit the quality of information delivered to him as to their performance against those targets. [62215]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

A copy of the Local Public Service Agreement with the London borough of Lewisham is in the Library. We are currently finalising an agreement with Staffordshire county council. Negotiation of an agreement with the Isle of Wight council is scheduled to begin on 1 July 2002.

The targets relate to performance at the end of the period of the agreement; agreements normally run for around three years. An authority earns a reward grant for the achievement of its targets, and will provide information to enable the performance on which the grant is based to be verified.

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Taxation

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the percentage change in income per income decile after tax as a consequence of changes to direct and indirect taxation from 1998–99 to 2000–01. [4632]

Mr. Boateng: The table shows the estimated percentage impact on the net income of UK households of direct and indirect tax and benefit changes introduced over the last Parliament and taking effect by 2001–02.

Net income decilePercentage change in net income
Bottom+11
2+9
3+7
4+4
5+3
6+2
7+2
8+1
9+1
Top0

Note:

The estimates are based on Family Expenditure Survey data with incomes and expenditure projected forward to 2001–02. The decile groups are of all households ranked by net income before housing costs and equivalised using the McClements scale.


Bank of England

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date he plans to announce the appointment of the next Deputy Governor of the Bank of England with responsibility for financial stability. [63903]

Ruth Kelly: The term of office of Mr. David Clementi, the Deputy Governor for Financial Stability, runs until 31 August 2002. Mr. Clementi is not seeking reappointment. His successor will be announced in due course.

Fuel Duty

Mr. Howard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of fuel duty changes since May 1997 on the tax burden on families in the lowest income quintile; and if he will make a statement. [12800]

Mr. Boateng: Changes to fuel duties since May 1997 have cost families with children in the lowest income quintile around £30 a year on average in real terms. Personal tax and benefit changes introduced since 1997 have benefited families with children in the lowest income quintile by £2,400 a year on average in real terms.

Capital Modernisation Fund

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the projects funded in the first three rounds of the Capital Modernisation Fund; what funding each project has received to date; and if he will make a statement. [64550]

Mr. Boateng: Table 1.12 of the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2001–02 (CM5101) lists all allocations made in the first three rounds of the Capital

26 Jun 2002 : Column 944W

Modernisation Fund which had been announced at that date. Details of projects announced since then have been placed on the Treasury's public website.

Tax Credits

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 12 April 2002, Official Report, column 336W, on the Budget, what the levels of housing benefit and council tax benefit take-up were in 1997–98; what the caseload numbers for those receiving family credit were in 1997–98; what the levels of housing benefit and council tax benefit take-up were in 1999–2000; what the projected caseload numbers of those receiving WFTC or DPTC are for 2002–03; and what the projected caseload numbers are for those receiving the new tax credits in 2003–04. [64207]

Dawn Primarolo: There were some 4.77 million recipients of housing benefit in the UK in May 1997. This had fallen to 4.44 million by May 1999.

There were some 5.5 million recipients of council tax benefit in Great Britain in May 1997. This had fallen to 5.17 million by May 1999.

There were around 780,000 family credit recipients in the UK in May 1997.

The UK caseload of recipients receiving WFTC or DPTC as at November 2001 was 1.325 million.

The projected UK caseload of recipients of the child or working tax credits is about 6 million in 2003–04.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Electoral Fraud

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action will be taken by the Northern Ireland Office in conjunction with the Electoral Office headquarters to inform the electorate in relation to the requirements of the Electoral Fraud (NI) Act 2002; and when this information campaign will commence. [63534]

Mr. Browne: The Electoral Commission, which assumed responsibility for voter education and awareness for the whole of the UK on 1 July 2001, in consultation with the Northern Ireland Office and the Electoral Office, is planning a public awareness campaign in Northern Ireland. It will focus on the changes brought about by the Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, in particular voter registration and identification, and will begin in the autumn.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Postal Voting

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment he has made of the pilot studies on postal voting at local government elections. [63825]

Mr. Raynsford: I have been asked to reply.

26 Jun 2002 : Column 945W

The Electoral Commission is evaluating the local authority pilot schemes that ran all postal ballots in the May 2002 local and mayoral elections and will provide a detailed assessment of the impact of each scheme to the Deputy Prime Minister by 2 August 2002.

Departmental Grants

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department which organisations which were in receipt of a grant in 1997–98 no longer are; what the annual saving is; which organisations which were not in receipt of a grant in 1997–98 now are; and what the annual cost is. [61401]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng), on 17 June 2002, Official Report, column 136W.

Tables 1 and 2 detail those organisations now in receipt of grants that were not in 1997–98.

Table 3 details those organisations that were in receipt of a grant in 1997–98 that are not now.

26 Jun 2002 : Column 946W

The saving from discontinued grants is £247,608.

The cost of new grants totals £1,303,000.

Marriage and relationship support (MARS) grant programme 2002–03
Core funding(9)   £

Funding allocated
Parentline Plus62,000
2 as 1150,000
Totnes Family Partnership58,000
Somerset Family Partnership50,000
Family Matters York50,000
Prisoners Families and Friends Service12,000
The Lesbian and Gay Foundation48,000
Muslim Women's Helpline20,000
The Salvation Army40,000
Aquila Care Trust88,000
Project for Advocacy, Counselling and Education46,000
Basic for Life34,000
The Cogwheel Trust4,000
Poole Community Family Trust50,000
CFP Guildford40,000
Bristol Community Family Trust50,000
802,000

(9) Core grant is paid in respect of administration costs of the recipient organisation.


Marriage and relationship support grant programme 2002–03
Programme funding(10)

£
University of Exeter, School of PsychologyMoney management and marital commitment in new couples: An evaluation of the efficacy of the FOCCUS Inventory43,000
Care for the FamilyAsian family matters19,000
2 as 1Development and adaptation of Relate training material66,000
The Minster CentreAracas project (domestic violence)72,000
2 as 1Partnership project (Relate)—Generic awareness campaign to promote MARS120,000
Sussex Family Mediation ServiceOne Stop Shop26,000
The Church of EnglandMarriage Preparation and Support in the south-east54,000
Brook in BirminghamCounselling for young couples39,000
The Richmond CentreVideos are Valuable38,000
Talking MattersInfrastructure for Marriage Preparation in the Orthodox Jewish Community24,000
Total501,000

(10) Programme grant is paid in respect of defined project costs of the recipient organisation.


Marriage and relationship support discontinued grants 1997–98

£
Marriage Resource126,900
Marriage Resource—Glossop11,228
African Caribbean Family Mediation Service89,900
Lighthouse Christian Care29,580
Total247,608


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