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7 Nov 2002 : Column 652W—continued

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many persons have been found to have been claiming benefits pending an asylum application in the UK and Eire at the same time in each of the last three years; [78502]

Malcolm Wicks: Our strategy for tackling fraud focuses on prevention by tightening the gateway to benefits, making stringent checks to verify a person's identity and details of their claim at the outset.

People from abroad who wish to claim benefits must first provide sufficient evidence of their identity and circumstances for a National Insurance number (NINO) to be allocated.

This process involves a rigorous face to face interview, scrutiny of supporting documentation, and corroborative checks made on the information provided prior to the allocation of a NINO. The process applies to all foreign nationals requiring a NINO. If during the allocation process suspicions are raised as to the legitimacy of an individual's right to be in the country, the case is referred to the Department's National Identity Fraud Unit for further action.

Upon arrival in this country asylum seekers are initially supported by the Home Office National Asylum Support Service. Contact with this Department for the allocation of a NINO will therefore not normally take place until a decision has been made by the Home Office on the person's application for asylum. Once this has taken place (or if the person has been in the country for more than 6 months and is still awaiting a decision), an application for a NINO can be made.

There are arrangements in place between this Department and the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs in the Republic of Ireland which allow fraud investigators to compare information held by both departments relating to individuals suspected of committing fraud.

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Job Advertisements

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many posts were advertised in the press in each year from June 1999; and what percentage of them were advertised in the Scottish press. [76851]

Mr. McCartney [holding reply 24 October 2002]: The information is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Goodwin and I v. UK

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 24 July, concerning the case of Goodwin and I v. UK, Official Report, col 1308W, if he will list the several Departments which have incurred costs in this case. [75743]

Mr. McCartney: This litigation raised policy implications for most Government Departments, however those Departments most closely involved are the Foreign Office, Lord Chancellor's Department, Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Heath.

Correspondence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when he will reply to the letters dated 28 August and 20 September from the hon. Member for Buckingham. [76017]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I replied to the hon. Member on 22 October.

Child Support

Mr. Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many current CSA assessments would be altered by implementation of the proposed changes in procedures. [78729]

Malcolm Wicks: It is expected that the majority of assessments made by the Child Support Agency will alter when the new scheme is introduced for existing cases. This is expected to be about a year after the new scheme is commenced for new cases.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average payment made in child support maintenance by the non-resident parent under the CSA system for (a) one child, (b) two children and (c) three or more children, based on the most recent five per cent. scan of the Child Support Computer System. [79360]

Malcolm Wicks [holding reply 4 November 2002]: The information is in the table.

Average maintenance payment, # per week

Number of qualifying children
123
27.4335.3036.24

Notes:

1. Figures are taken from a 5 per cent sample of ''live and assessed'' cases of the May 2002 quarterly scan of the Child Support Computer System and so are subject to sampling variation.

2. Figures are based only on payments to parents with care made via the CSA collection service. Data is not held on those payments made directly by the non-resident parent to the parent with care.

3. Averages are based on cases with Full Maintenance Assessments only.

4. Payments made to reduce outstanding arrears are included in the calculation.

5. The averages exclude cases assessed at zero maintenance payable; these represent nearly half of all cases with a Full Maintenance Assessment.

6. The figures in the table represent average amounts paid by each non-resident parent for a single case.


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Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average child support maintenance assessment is for (a) all, (b) employed and (c) unemployed non-resident parents for (i) one, (ii) two and (iii) three or more qualifying children. [79364]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 4 November 2002]: The information is given in the table.

Average maintenance assessment, # per week

Employment status of non-resident parentNumber of qualifying children
123
All19.0525.3823.45
Employed33.9643.0844.86
Unemployed2.272.891.92

Notes:

1. The averages take account of cases assessed at zero maintenance payable.

2. Figures are taken from a 5 per cent sample of all ''live and assessed'' cases of the May 2002 quarterly scan of the Child Support Computer System and so are subject to sampling variation.

3. Figures are for Full Maintenance Assessments only.

4. Employment status of the non-resident parent is based on the information held on the Child Support Computer System.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make a statement on the timetable for the introduction of the proposed changes in the CSA; and what assessment he has made of the impact upon the parent with responsibility of its proposed changes. [77308]

Malcolm Wicks [holding reply 28 October 2002]: I refer my hon. Friend to the letter sent to right hon. and hon. Members on 19 September 2002 by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, a copy of which was placed in the Library.

The White Paper XA new contract for welfare: children's rights and parents' responsibilities", (CM4349) published in July 1999, gives our most recent estimates.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, (1) if he will update his estimates of gainers and losers from his proposed reforms to child support; [74842]

Malcolm Wicks: The White Paper ''A new contract for welfare: children's rights and parents' responsibilities'', (CM 4349) published in July 1999, gives our most recent estimates.

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Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will estimate the (a) percentage and (b) number of non-resident parents who will see (i) an increase and (ii) a decrease in their child support maintenance assessment under the new scheme, based on the (A) five per cent. scan of the Child Support Computer System that was conducted in August 2000 and (B) the most recent five per cent. scan of the system; [79363]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 4 November 2002]: I refer my hon. friend to the letter sent to right hon. and hon. Members on 19 September 2002 by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

The White Paper ''A new contract for welfare: children's rights and parents' responsibilities'', (CM 4349) published in July 1999, gives our most recent estimates.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been paid in compensation for Child Support Agency maladministration in each of the last five years; and how many cases have been involved. [79361]

Malcolm Wicks: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter to Mr. Steven Webb from Doug Smith, dated 7 November 2002:




Number of CasesTotal amount Paid (#)
1997–19981,389786,590
1998–19998,1953,683,277
1999–20007,7052,529,695
2000–20019,8212,736,479
2001–200212,0072,518,487

I hope you find this useful.


7 Nov 2002 : Column 656W

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 28 October 2002, Official Report, column 649W, on child maintenance, what proportion of parents with care on income support and income-based jobseekers' allowance received maintenance for their children in (a) 1997 and (b) at the most recent date for which figures are available. [79924]

Malcolm Wicks: Based on data for February for both years, in 1997, 36 per cent. of the total of 255,000 parents with care, on income support or income-based job seeker's allowance and with full maintenance assessments were receiving maintenance. For 2002, that proportion was 31 per cent., but of a caseload that had increased by over 50 per cent., to some 392,000 such parents with care.

Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints and queries have been dealt with by the Child Support Agency in each of the last five years; how many absent parents were no longer contactable in each of these years; how many maintenance accounts held by the agency were in arrears in each of these years (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) in Durham; and what the outstanding amounts were (i) in the United Kingdom and (ii) in Durham. [80233]

Malcolm Wicks: I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible with the information requested and place a copy of my letter in the Library.


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