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Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many prosecutions for fraud were undertaken by staff employed by his Department and its agencies in (a) 199798, (b) 199899, (c) 19992000 and (d) 200001; and how many of these were successful. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 15 July 2002]: In each year since 1997, over 98 per cent of prosecutions carried out by the Department and its agencies have resulted in convictions. Information on the number of prosecutions is in the table.
|Year||Prosecutions||Cautions and penalties as an alternative to prosecution||Total|
Benefit Fraud Investigation Service and Benefits Agency Security Investigation Service
(1) The data on cautions and penalties for 199899 is derived from the database preceding the current database and there may be some overlap with 19992000.
(2) Administrative penalties, as an alternative to prosecution, were introduced by the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act (1997) with effect from December 1998.
(3) From 1 April 2002, the Benefit Fraud Investigation Service became the Counter Fraud Investigation Service and the Benefits Agency Security Investigation Service became the Counter Fraud Investigation Division Operations.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of benefit fraud were established as a result of investigations carried out by the Benefits Agency in each year since 1997; and how many of these resulted in prosecutions. 
Malcolm Wicks: For the number of cases of benefit fraud established as a result of investigations carried out by the Benefits Agency in each year since 1997 I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Nick Gibb) on 16 July 2002, Official Report, column 88W.
19 Jul 2002 : Column 596W
For the number of prosecutions, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Nick Gibb) on 9 January 2002, Official Report, column 923W.
Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of (a) the numbers of persons eligible for benefit who have not taken up their entitlement and (b) the total value of unclaimed benefits. 
Malcolm Wicks: The latest available information is published in "Income Related BenefitsEstimates of Take-Up 19992000", a copy of which is available in the Library.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list all of the circumstances in which (a) interim payments and (b) alignment payments are made. 
Malcolm Wicks: Interim payments are discretionary payments on account of benefit which can be made to avoid hardship where the Decision Maker is satisfied that the basic conditions of entitlement for the benefit are met. Interim payments can be made in a number of circumstances:
where a benefit claim has been made but cannot immediately be determined and the delay is not the fault of the customer;
in an emergency. This covers a variety of different situations from civil emergencies to industrial action;
where a claim has not been made in the correct manner but it is not the fault of the customer, for example because the claim form has been completed incorrectly by a visiting officer;
while an appeal is ongoing but the customer clearly has some residual entitlement to benefit;
Interim payments follow the same payment cycles and periods as the main benefit being claimed and are not made before the person's first benefit pay day. The amount of any payment is recoverable from the main benefit when it is awarded.
"Alignment payment" is an administrative term used to describe Social Fund crisis loans made to help with day to day living expenses to people awaiting a first payment of benefit which is paid in arrears. Any crisis loans made under these circumstances will cover the recipients' needs until their first benefit pay day, following which full or interim payments of benefit can be made. Alignment payments can also be made to people moving from benefit into work who need financial help until they receive their first wage.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 1 July, Official Report, column 95W, on alignment payments, over what time alignment payments have to be repaid. 
19 Jul 2002 : Column 597W
Malcolm Wicks: As with all Social Fund loans, the period over which crisis loan alignment payments are repaid varies depending upon the size of the loan and the weekly repayment rate. Repayment rates are flexible and take account of each individual's financial position.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of those going through the new deal for (a) long-term 25-plus, (b) 50-plus, (c) lone parents and (d) new deal 1824 left for (i) unsubsidised employment, (ii) transferred to another benefit, (iii) left for an unknown reason and (iv) left for an unknown destination in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
19 Jul 2002 : Column 598W
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Information on the destination of people leaving New Deal 50 plus is not available. The only measure of participation in the programme is the number of people who move into work and claim the programme's in-work financial support, the Employment Credit. Up to April 2002, nearly 70,000 people had been helped into work through New Deal 50plus.
The information on the other New Deals is in the table. In addition to those leaving for unsubsidised employment, independent surveys have shown that a significant proportion of leavers to unknown destinations also find work. For example, over 50 per cent of people leaving New Deal for Young People for unknown destinations move into work.
|Programme||Total Leavers||per cent of leavers moving into unsubsidised employment||per cent of leavers moving on to other benefits||per cent of leavers moving for other known reason(1)||per cent of leavers moving to unknown destinations(2)|
|New Deal for Young People||178,500||37.2||11.6||19.7||31.5|
|New Deal 25 plus||63,600||29.7||21.2||29.7||19.4|
|New Deal for Lone Parents||90,720||57.4||1.1||34.0||7.5|
New Deal Evaluation Database.
(1)Other known reasons include moving into education or training or moving abroad.
(2)Includes participants leaving the New Deal programmes for an unknown reason.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest assessment is of the implementation costs of the Universal Bank. 
Malcolm Wicks: Contracts are in place between the Government and Post Office Ltd for the provision of the new card account at the Post Office. Elements of the set-up costs are included in the contract, but information on detailed implementation costs is a commercial matter for Post Office Ltd.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will make a statement on the progress of the Universal Bank towards meeting its April 2003 deadline for the provision of banking services to benefit claimants;  (2) what progress is being made with the Universal Bank; and if he will make a statement;  (3) what his assessment is of the viability of the April 2003 implementation date for the Universal Bank;  (4) what contingency plans are in place should the April 2003 deadline for the payment of all benefits via automated credit transfer not be met. 
Malcolm Wicks: I refer the hon. Member to the Written Answer given to the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) on Friday 5 July 2002, Official Report, column 630W.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of benefit recipients received their benefit payments via automated credit transfer in each year since the introduction of ACT. 
Malcolm Wicks: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Brian Cotter) on 26 February 2002, Official Report, column 1263W.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people receive benefits by (a) automated credit transfer and (b) other methods, broken down in each case into recipients of each of the main benefits. 
Malcolm Wicks: Statistical information, by benefit, is collected quarterly on the number of customers currently receiving benefit by ACT and other methods.
The table below is based on information available at March 2002 and shows the number of people that receive their benefits by ACT and other methods of payment, broken down into each of the main benefits.
For ease of reference, the figures have been rounded to the nearest 5,000 and the numbers paid by other methods are mainly by order book and girocheques with a small number of payable orders.
19 Jul 2002 : Column 599W
|Benefit||Customers||Number Paid by ACT||Number Paid by Other Methods|
|Disability Living Allowance||1,925,000||795,000||1,130,000|
|Invalid Care Allowance||400,000||75,000||325,000|
|Retirement Pension, Widows Benefit & Bereavement Benefit||10,250,000||5,175,000||5,075,000|
|Veterans Agency (War Pension)||270,000||155,000||115,000|
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many, and what proportion of, benefit claimants have had bank accounts that are compatible with automated credit transfer in each year since 1997. 
Malcolm Wicks: The table below sets out the number and percentage of benefit customers with access to ACT compatible bank accounts. These are estimated figures, taken from the annual Family Resources Survey. Figures for 200102 are not yet available.
|Customers with ACT Compatible Accounts|
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