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16 Dec 2002 : Column 618Wcontinued
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the website links associated with his Department, including sites now dormant or closed; what the start-up costs were for each site; what the operating costs were in each year for each site; which company hosts each site; and what assessment has taken place for each site. 
Mr. David Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the future staffing levels of his Department's Executive Agencies; what changes in employment levels will be brought about by (a) the move to Jobcentre Plus and (b) the establishment of the new Pension Service; and if he will provide estimates for total staffing levels in each of the next three years. 
Mr. McCartney: Information on the future staffing levels of the Department's Executive Agencies is not as yet available. Profiles for staffing levels in each of the next three years are still being developed by each of the businesses.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) recorded and (b) estimated level of fraud has taken place through benefit payments at post offices in each of the last ten years. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2002]: As part of our programme to modernise welfare delivery, from next April we shall be paying more benefits direct into bank accounts. The move to direct paymentprovides a safe, convenient, more modern and efficient way of paying benefits that will reduce the cost of red tape and make the system more secure from fraud.
The figures in the table show losses from fraudulent encashment of instruments of payment. These may include losses incurred through transactions at places other than post offices, such as banks and building societies. Figures for instrument of payment fraud prior to 1995/96 cannot be identified separately.
|Year||Order book losses #m||Girocheque losses #m||Total instrument of payment losses #m|
|1995 to 1996||133.0||17.0||150.0|
|1996 to 1997||84.0||17.8||101.8|
|1997 to 1998||98.0||21.0||119.0|
|1998 to 1999||83.2||19.4||102.6|
|1999 to 2000||89.4||19.3||108.7|
|2000 to 2001||58.0||19.2||77.2|
Fraud Strategy Unit
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Maria Eagle: We fund voluntary and charitable organisations only to deliver specific projects or services. Guide Dogs for the Blind does not provide any specific projects or services for the Department for Work and Pensions.
Mr. Kirkwood:: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library the local reference rents for each size of property in each locality of each of the local authorities invited to be a pathfinder in the housing benefit reforms. 
Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not collected centrally. With the introduction of the standard local housing allowance, each pathfinder authority will publish in advance the rates that will payable under the scheme.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) retirement pension, (b) widow's benefit, (c) bereavement benefit, (d) incapacity benefit and (e) jobseeker's allowance cases are awaiting a review triggered by a national insurance recording system 2 (NIRS2) calculation. 
Mr. McCartney: It is clearly important that individuals have confidence in the long term stability of the pension system. We are publishing a Green Paper on pensions on 17 December that will look at pensions policy in the round. It will make a range of proposals to encourage more pensions saving and to balance the
16 Dec 2002 : Column 620W
Mr. Heald : To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on his policy on restricting access by staff to personal information held by his Department and its agencies in cases where victims of violence have changed their names and addresses. 
Mr. McCartney: It is the policy of the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that all personal information held by the Department is afforded protection in accordance with legislative requirements and good practice.
Access by staff to any personal information is restricted to that needed for the proper conduct of the Department's business. On-line activity is subject to random management checking and full audit trails are maintained.
Additional protection is provided and access further restricted for cases assessed to be at serious risk. In this case all access to a record is blocked unless specifically authorised by management and all attempts at access are monitored.
The Department takes a very serious view of any unauthorised disclosures being made from its records and disciplinary action, including dismissal and prosecution, will be taken against anyone making an unauthorised disclose of customer information to a third party or casually browsing the Department's records.
Mr. Heald : To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance he has issued to his Department and its agencies concerning restricting access by staff to personal information held in cases where victims of violence have changed their names and addresses. 
Mr. McCartney: Department for Work and Pensions staff with access to customer information are made aware of their responsibilities for the security and protection of customer information during induction training. This is reinforced through various publications and regular security bulletins and awareness sessions. Comprehensive supporting guidance is also available in both paper and electronic form.
Malcolm Wicks: We are providing customers with information (including letters and leaflets) which clearly sets out the account options as part of the move to direct payment. Customers can choose the bank or building society account (including the post office card account) which best suits their needs and circumstances. The information material sets out the key features of the various accounts and explains how people can access their money at the post office, if they wish to do so.
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Mr. Laws: Mr. David Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures he is taking to promote the take-up of the Post Office Card account as part of the migration to automated credit transfer. 
Malcolm Wicks: DWP is providing customers with information (including letters and leaflets) which clearly sets out the account options as part of the move to payment direct into accounts. Customers can choose the bank or building society account (including the Post Office card account) which best suits their needs and circumstances. The information material sets out the key features of the various accounts.
Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) people over retirement age, (b) children, (c) women, (d) members of ethnic minorities and (e) others in the Wycombe constituency lived below the poverty line in each of the past five years. 
Malcolm Wicks: The requested information is not available. Poverty and social exclusion are complex and multi-dimensional problems, which affect many aspects of people's lives. They cannot be measured using a single indicator. Our long-term strategy to tackle the underlying causes of poverty is set out in our recently published XOpportunity for allfourth annual report", which provides detailed analysis on a range of indicators of poverty and social exclusion. Unfortunately, not all indicators can be broken down to the constituency leveldue to sample size limitations. The National Statistics website, www.statistics.gov.uk, provides a comprehensive source of information that is available at the constituency level.
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