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Benefit Fraud

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the overall cost of (a) benefits fraud and (b) the agencies and actions taken to discover, prevent and prosecute benefit fraud in the last year for which figures are available. [78469]

Malcolm Wicks : Our latest estimate is that around #2 billion is lost annually through benefit fraud in Great Britain.

The overall aim of the Department's anti-fraud strategy is to have a benefit system, which is secure from first claim to final payment. The implementation of this strategy means that an anti-fraud focus is integral to the work of all staff in the Department, as is dealing with the wider agenda of error and incorrectness in benefit payments. It is therefore not possible to identify separately the cost involved in tackling benefit fraud across the Department and its Agencies.

Backdated Benefits

Mr. Waterson : To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much money he estimates has been saved by the government since the rules for backdating of benefits were changed. [76976]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available.

Benefit Rates

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will raise the benefit rates for working age adults. [79205]

Malcolm Wicks: We keep all benefit rates under continuous review. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will make an announcement in due course about the proposed rates of benefit which will apply from April 2003.

Employment Agencies

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list his Department's employment agencies operating in Stoke on Trent. [76661]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Jobcentre Plus has the following offices within the boundaries of the Stoke-on-Trent local authority area:

Firefighters' Strike

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what preparations he has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in the event of a firefighters' strike; and what the cost is to the Department of these actions. [77655]

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Malcolm Wicks: We have put in place procedures to review internal contingency plans and evacuation procedures to ensure the safety of both the Departments staff and its customers. The cost of providing emergency cover will depend on the extent and nature of any industrial action.

Health and Safety Commission

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the change in the number of fatal injuries in the construction industry in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02. [75132]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: There were 113 fatal injuries in the construction industry including workers and members of the public, in 2000–01. The Health and Safety Executive's provisional figures for 2001–02 show that there were 85 fatal injuries to workers and members of the public for the corresponding period.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many inspectors, excluding trainees, are employed by the Field Operations Division of the Health and Safety Executive in (a) Scotland, (b) Yorkshire and the North East, (c) the North West, (d) the Midlands, (e) Wales and the West, (f) London and the South East and (g) the Home Counties; and if he will make a statement. [75138]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The number of inspectors, excluding trainees, employed by the Field Operations Directorate (FOD) of the Health and Safety Executive on 17 October 2002 is:

DivisionNumber of inspectors
Yorkshire and North East85
North West75
Wales and South West75
East and South East97

The information is not available in the format requested. This reflects the re-organisation which took effect on 8 April 2002.

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many companies have been fined for failure to insure their liability to their employees in the event of injury or disease sustained in the course of their employment in each year since 1997. [75849]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The number of employers who have been fined by courts in England, Scotland and Wales for failure to have insurance cover as required by the Employer's Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 and the Employer's Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1998 each year since 1997 is as follows:

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Housing Benefit

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average level of rent paid through housing benefit to private sector tenants in Islington was in each of the past three years; and what the average rent charged to the tenants concerned was. [76330]

Malcolm Wicks: [holding answer 22 October 2002]: The table shows the average weekly Housing Benefit payment and the average rent eligible for Housing Benefit for tenants living in the deregulated private sector, in the London Borough of Islington, at May 2000, 2001 and 2002. There is no directly comparable information about the actual rents paid by tenants.


Average weekly amount of Housing Benefit paidAverage weekly eligible rent
May 200093.0095.80
May 2001101.80105.60
May 2002112.70117.10


1. The data refer to households claiming Housing Benefit, which may be a single person, a couple or a family. More than benefit household can live in one property, for example two or more adults in a flat or house share arrangement.

2. The eligible rent is the amount of rent which may be met by Housing Benefit after any restrictions applied by the rent officer, taking account of the cost of suitable accommodation in the area.

3. Figures include cases where Housing Benefit is paid at the reduced rate due to the tenant's income.

4. Figures exclude any extended payment cases.


Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. sample inquiries taken in May 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Maternity Benefits

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to introduce improvements to (a) statutory maternity pay and (b) maternity allowance. [79586]

Maria Eagle : Regulations were laid before Parliament on 1 November which:


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of

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the number of people required to retire from their jobs owing to reaching a certain age; and if he will make a statement. [76963]

Maria Eagle: The Department has commissioned a study to update knowledge about older workers' participation in the labour market, including the influences on their remaining in employment and the reasons for retirement. This survey of 2,800 people aged 50–69 asked people why they retired, including whether this was a result of having reached their employer's normal retirement age. The findings from this research, which is on-going, are expected to be published in spring 2003.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will supply the National Pensioners' Convention with a copy of the Government's National Strategy on Pensions; and if he will make a statement. [77040]

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Maria Eagle: A copy of the UK's national strategy report on pensions was sent to the National Pensioners' Convention on 17 September.

All EU member states have produced reports as part of an exercise to exchange information and best practice on pensions. The UK report sets out current pensions policy. A draft Joint Commission/Council Report based on the information in the reports from member states is provisionally scheduled to be considered by EU

Heads of State and Government at the spring European Council in 2003.

Copies of the UK report are in the Library.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 24 October 2002, Official Report, column 487W, on contributions to non-state pensions, if he will estimate for each four year period for (a) all people, (b) men and (c) women the percentage of members of each quintile group who contributed to a non-state pension in at least three out of four years. [78806]

Mr. McCartney: The information is in the table.

Percentage of working-age individuals in each quintile contributing to a non-state pension in at least three out of four years by equivalised income quintiles (20 per cent. band) (Great Britain)

Bottom quintileSecond quintileThird quintileFourth quintileTop quintileAll


1. All figures are estimates and are taken from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) data set. The BHPS is a longitudinal data set developed at the University of Essex, Institute for Social and Economic Research. The latest data available is for the period 1997 to 2000.

2. The estimates are sample counts, which have been adjusted for non-response using multipurpose grossing factors. Estimates are subject to both sampling error and to variability in non-response. The income measure used is total equivalised household income (that is to say income that is adjusted to reflect the composition of the household).

3. Individuals are assigned between quintiles according to their household income in the first year of each of the four year periods.



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