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4 Nov 2002 : Column 84Wcontinued
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. 
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.
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. 
Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available.
Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will raise the benefit rates for working age adults. 
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.
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. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Jobcentre Plus has the following offices within the boundaries of the Stoke-on-Trent local authority area:
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. 
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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.
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) 200001 and (b) 200102. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: There were 113 fatal injuries in the construction industry including workers and members of the public, in 200001. The Health and Safety Executive's provisional figures for 200102 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. 
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:
|Division||Number of inspectors|
|Yorkshire and North East||85|
|Wales and South West||75|
|East and South East||97|
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. 
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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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. 
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 paid||Average weekly eligible rent|
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.
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. 
Maria Eagle : Regulations were laid before Parliament on 1 November which:
amend existing regulations dealing with Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit which are needed to take account of measures in the Employment Act 2002 which improve maternity rights and introduce new rights to paternity pay and leave and adoption pay and leave.
These regulations are part of the package of measures developed to help working parents balance their work and family lives and significantly improve and extend the maternity payments made to pregnant and new mothers.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 24 October laid three draft Statutory Instruments which cover the improvements to maternity leave and the introduction of statutory adoption leave and pay and statutory paternity leave and pay.
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. 
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 5069 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. 
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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. 
Mr. McCartney: The information is in the table.
|Bottom quintile||Second quintile||Third quintile||Fourth quintile||Top quintile||All|
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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