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Inspectors found a marked difference in performance between the city hall and area office teams. Performance was poorer, and sickness levels higher, at the city hall which was dealing with a backlog of 4,500 documents.
The report notes good performance in a number of areas including the verification of claims, a good working relationship with the Benefits Agency, excellent complaints procedures and good internal audit practices.
Areas of poor performance included decision notices that did not comply fully with legislation, fraud investigations which were curtailed too early meaning that Cardiff was unable to prosecute fraudsters, and the lack of a counter fraud publicity policy and risk analysis of fraud.
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The council had a service improvement plan in place prior to the inspection. This comprehensive plan addresses many of the points that the report identifies. Elected members and staff are jointly driving through the objectives of the plan.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many special advisers were employed by himself and his predecessor (a) between 1 May and 31 December 1997 and (b) in each year from 1998 to 2001 inclusive; and what the total amount spent on special advisers by the Department was in each of those years. 
Mr. McCartney: Two special advisers were employed by the Department of Social Security and subsequently by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in each year from 1997 to 20 January 2002. From 21 January 2002, in recognition that DWP now has a Minister who attends Cabinet, it employed three special advisers.
Local authorities are required to establish and maintain an independent remuneration panel. The purpose of this panel is to make recommendations to the authority about the allowances to be paid to elected members. Authorities are under a duty to have regard to the recommendation of their independent remuneration panel when establishing their scheme and levels of allowances.
Mr. McCartney: The information is not available in the format requested. The costs of means tested benefits, that is the minimum income guarantee, housing benefit and council tax benefit, to people aged 60 and over for 200203 are estimated to be £10.415 million.
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Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what reasons have been given for adjournments in hearings dealt with by the IAA since January 2001; and how many adjournments have been granted under each reason. 
|Reason given||Number of adjournments granted|
|Lack of court time||1,821|
|For further evidence to be supplied by representative||1,367|
|Representative need to supply medical report||1,173|
|Home Office reconsidering their decision||1,140|
|Other reasons for representatives needing more time||1,060|
|Document needs to be authenticated or translated||993|
|Home Office documents missing||671|
|New Home Office issue raised||630|
|Reason given||Number of adjournments granted|
|For further evidence to be supplied by representative||100|
|Other reasons for representatives needing more time||55|
|New Home Office issue raised||40|
|Home Office reconsidering their decision||27|
|Other reason for representative's non attendance||25|
|Representative need to supply medical report||14|
|Needs a combined hearing||12|
|Representatives instructed late||11|
|Document needs to be authenticated or translated||11|
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Beverley Hughes: In respect of (a) 2 May 1997, I refer the hon. Member to reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Alexander) on 13 June 2002, Official Report, column 1158W.
In respect of (b) 31 May 2002, while published figures for 1 April 2002 have not yet been centrally compiled, estimates are available from the Home Office Personnel Information Manpower Management System (PIMMS) and the personnel systems of the Home Office Agencies, and I have provided them in the table.
|Home Office area(202)||1 April 2002|
|Home Office main(21)||13,573|
|Forensic Science Service||2,448|
|(United Kingdom Passport Agency)||2,807|
|Her Majesty's Prison Service||43,420|
(20)The Fire Service College moved to the Department of the Enviroment in the machinery of Government changes 8 June 2001.
(21)The number includes 4,511 extra staff recruited since 31 March 2002 to deal with immigration and asylum work within the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the street crime initiative courts in London; how they are proposed to operate and for what purpose; what role is envisaged for the Witness Service in relation to them; and if he will make a statement. 
As well as fast tracking street crime cases the designated courts are designed to ensure that victims and witnesses have separate facilities, such as secure waiting areas, to avoid the risk of intimidation from alleged offenders. The Witness Service, provided by victim support also provides support to witnesses before, during and after they give evidence, to lessen the number of cases failing to proceed.
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The specialist street crime courts are part of a package of measures across the Court Justice Service and other Government departments, designed to tackle street crime by dealing swiftly and effectively with the perpetrators of these offences.
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