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18 Mar 2003 : Column 718W—continued

External Consultancy

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much (a) his Department and (b) each agency and non-departmental public body spent on external consultancy in each year from 1995–96 to 2002–03 (planned); and if he will make a statement. [92254]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.

The total cost to DWP of the use of external consultants and professional services in the 2001–02 financial year was £169.494 million.

Details of DWP external spend are recorded centrally for client group and corporate centre expenditure, and not by agency. Figures for the former DSS are available by agency, as follows.

Ex-DSS spend on external consultancy and professional services

Tax yearBenefits AgencyChild Support AgencyContributions AgencyCorporate and ISBsITSAWar pensions AgencyTotal(£ million)Present value (£ million 2002–03 prices)


1. Contributions Agency transferred to Inland Revenue from April 1999

2. Information Technology Services Agency (ITSA) function moved to corporate centre from April 2000

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Housing Benefit Fraud

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish targets for the reduction of housing benefit fraud. [102915]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have set a challenging target to reduce fraud and error in housing benefit for working age people. We are working with local authorities to achieve a 25 per cent. reduction by March 2006.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what action he is taking to review (a) the starting point and (b) the tapered relief for set-off of occupational pension income against incapacity benefit; [101722]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Incapacity benefit (IB) is intended to provide a measure of income replacement for sick and disabled people of working age. We believe it is therefore right to take some account of their occupational or personal pensions as they provide income replacements.

If a person claiming IB receives an occupational pension, personal pension or payments through a permanent health insurance scheme of £85 per week or more, their IB is reduced by half the amount which exceeds £85. These rules came into force for new claims after April 2001.

While we have no plans at present to change the threshold at which income from an occupational and personal pension is taken into account in assessing IB, we keep all social security rules under review.

We estimate that the reduction in expenditure on IB due to the rules on offsetting personal and occupational pensions was £10 million in the year to March 2002.

The available information is in the table.

The number of new awards of IB since April 2001 which are reduced or stopped due to a personal or occupational pension

New awards from 6 April2001 to 31 March 2002New awards from 1 April2002 to 31 August 2002
NumberAverage amount of reduction(11)NumberAverage amount of reduction(11)

(11) Amount of reduction current at either the end of the spell or 31 August 2002 for spells continuing.


1. Numbers are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Figures are based on 5 per cent. samples and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation.

3. Figures may not sum due to rounding.


5 per cent. samples of the incapacity benefit computer system, which excludes a small number of cases held clerically.

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Innovation Fund

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) when the review of the Innovation Fund is expected to be completed and published; [98018]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The New Deal Innovation Fund was launched in 1999 to test innovative ideas for enhancing the New Deals and the way we help people move from benefit into sustained jobs. In 2001 we introduced the Lone Parent Innovation Fund to test new ways of helping people on the New Deal for Lone Parents find and remain in work. These two funds were merged last year.

The Innovation Funds have supported 92 projects so far and a further 16 are in development. Information on the funding received by individual organisations is commercial in confidence and cannot be published. There have been four rounds of projects under the New Deal Innovation Fund, and two under the Lone Parents Fund. Total expenditure on the first two rounds of the New Deal Innovation Fund and round one of the Lone Parent Fund was £1.78 million. Expenditure figures for rounds three and four of the New Deal Fund and round two of the Loan Parent Fund are not available as the projects are ongoing or in their development phase.

We have also allocated £1.4 million (for 2002–03) from the Innovation Fund to support the Ambition initiative which aims to help unemployed and disadvantaged people gain the right skills to meet the needs of employers in key sectors. Funds are also being used to co-sponsor the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion's (CESI) website, to facilitate the spread of innovation and good practice. Information on the funding received by CESI is commercial in confidence. In addition, innovation funding has been made available to Jobcentre Plus Districts to deliver a series of Innovation Laboratories' to stimulate innovation and creativity at a local level. One event has already been delivered at a cost of £45,000 and two more are planned for late March.

Information on the organisations receiving support under each round of the Funds, the focus of each round and expenditure on each round, has been placed in the Library.

The review of the Innovation Fund is scheduled for completion in May 2003. The results will then be published on the CESI website.

New Deal

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many businesses were established under

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the new deal self-employment model for 50 plus in each year since its creation; and how many of those businesses were still trading after (a) one year, (b) two years, (c) three years, (d) four years and (e) five years and above. [93410]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The New Deal 50 Plus does not include specific assistance for people going into self-employment. However, through the New Deal 50 plus, the Employment Credit of £60 per week for up to a year is available to eligible customers whose estimated income is £15,000 or less, this includes people going in to self-employment. From the 6 April 2003, the Employment Credit will be replaced by an over 50s supplement to the Working Tax Credit.

In addition, people going into self employment through New Deal 50 plus have access to a Training Grant, of up to £1,500, in the first two years of trading.

Information on the number of people who have received the Employment Credit for self-employment is in the table.

New Deal 50 Plus

April to December 2000January to December 2001January to November 2002Total
Employment Credit— Self Employment 2,9604,2503,75010,960
Training Grant—Self Employment 2707507501,780


Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 and may not sum due to rounding.


New Deal Evaluation Database

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young people in the City of York council area have been helped into jobs under the New Deal. [102635]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: From its launch in January 1998 to the end of December 2002 the New Deal had helped over 400,000 young people into work, including 820 people in the City of York Local Authority area.

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