Previous Section Index Home Page

19 Mar 2003 : Column 856W—continued

Departmental Electricity Charges

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what changes in unit payments for electricity have resulted from the switch by his Department to purchasing renewable energy which is exempt from the climate change levy. [96486]

Maria Eagle: The Department for Work and Pensions currently has 17.5 per cent. of its total electricity requirements supplied from renewable sources that are exempt from the climate change levy. There has been no increase in the unit payment for this renewable energy over the price of brown supplies, including the climate change levy.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the level of (a) fraud by and (b) overpayments to landlords in respect of housing benefit in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and what action his Department is taking to reduce such fraud and overpayments. [102732]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available in the format requested. The 1997–98 National Housing Benefit Accuracy Review estimated that the landlord fraud which could be established by the review cost

19 Mar 2003 : Column 857W

£30 million. We are now running an ongoing Housing Benefit Review which will provide new estimates for landlord fraud.

Later this year, as part of our reforms to improve the administration of housing benefit, standard rate housing allowance will start to be piloted in 10 pathfinder offices. Paying the allowance direct to claimants will eliminate some opportunities for fraud by landlords. A detailed evaluation will take place once the pathfinders are complete.

IT Projects

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list each information technology project being undertaken by his Department and its agencies including (a) the start date, (b) the planned completion date, (c) the current expected completion date, (d) the planned cost and (e) the current estimated cost; and if he will make a statement. [98224]

Mr. McCartney: The Department is undertaking a major modernisation programme, encompassing both organisational and IT reform. We received £2 billion for the modernisation programme in SR2000, and a further £1.9 billion in SR2002. The programme began in 2001 and is currently funded until March 2006. Current planned costs include spend to date and estimate to project completion, and are set out by client group in the following below:

£ million

Work programmeAllocation
Working age375

Figures include all modernisation projects with an IT element, although they do not include running costs or the costs of rolling out the Pension Service and Jobcentre Plus.

Estimates are subject to change as projects move through the project lifecycle.

Invalid Care Allowances

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people in each of the last three years have been overpaid in respect of invalid care allowance where the overlapping benefit rule applied; and what the total amount overpaid in this respect was in each year; [101947]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 13 March 2003]: Information about the number of overpayments of invalid care allowance due to the operation of the overlapping benefit rules is not available.

Exempting invalid care allowance from the overlapping benefit rules would run counter to the basic principle that the social security scheme should avoid making duplicate provision from public funds for the

19 Mar 2003 : Column 858W

same contingency by paying more than one income-maintenance benefit at the same time. The estimated gross cost would be around £320 million 1 a year 2 , affecting some 160,000 recipients. After adjusting for offsets in the income-related benefits 3 , the estimated net cost would be about £190 million 1 a year.

Pension Schemes

James Purnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pension schemes the Pensions Schemes Registry recorded as (a) having started wind-up proceedings and (b) completing wind-up proceedings in each year from 1979 to 2002; and how many members were covered by the schemes in each case. [102592]

Mr. McCartney: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field), on 11 February 2003, Official Report, columns 687–688W.

In 1997, the regulations that governed which schemes had a levy liability changed. Robust information for the period prior to 1 April 1997 is not available from the Registry.

Pensioners (North-East Derbyshire)

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners there are in North East Derbyshire; how many qualify for a free television licence; and how many get the minimum income guarantee. [103577]

Mr. McCartney: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available for the North East Derbyshire constituency shows that the number of people in receipt of state pension as at 30 September 2002 was 18,300. As at 31 May 2002 there were 7,700 people in receipt of a key benefit aged over 75 and therefore eligible for free TV licences. There were 3,100 people receiving the minimum income guarantee as at November 2002.


Asylum Courts

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when (a) Newport asylum court and (b) Stoke asylum court were completed; when each concluded its first case; and if he will make a statement. [102514]

19 Mar 2003 : Column 859W

Ms Rosie Winterton: Neither Hearing Centre has been used for hearings. Newport was ready to commence hearings on 2 December 2002. However, planning consent for change of use was refused before that date. The Immigration Appellate Authority has subsequently appealed against that decision and this is being dealt with by public inquiry.

Stoke was ready to commence hearings on 9 December 2002. However, planning consent for change of use was refused before that date. The Immigration Appellate Authority has been successful in its appeal against that decision and hearings are due to commence by 7 April 2003.

Departmental Studies

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what studies have been undertaken of the options for (a) commercialising the Public Records Office and (b) rationalising the offices of the Land Registry; and if she will make a statement. [102873]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Public Record Office (PRO) was subject to a Quinquennial Review in 1997–98, which concluded that its core functions in relation to its oversight of records management in other government departments and its custody of historical public records can only be carried out from within government. The PRO established a commercial arm, PRO Enterprises, eight years ago. Since the ways in which revenue is raised via the commercial exploitation of the Office's holdings and sites have expanded steadily.

Income is raised through a flourishing retailing operation, (two shops and an internet bookshop); a successful publishing house; and an image library which provides expert services in supplying images to commercial customers including publishers and broadcasters. We are also developing a range of licensing projects based on the commercial use of PRO-held images. Revenue is generated through arrangements with licensees from the worlds of social stationery, gift merchandise, homewares and ceramics and also through concluding licences with on-line content providers for the commercial use of PRO images of interest to the genealogical and academic communities.

Income has grown from £642,646 in 1998–99 to a projected £900,000 in 2002–03. Revenue raised via commercial activities can be retained to fund Office-wide projects.

The Report of the latest Quinquennial Review of the Land Registry (published in June 2001) recommended that the Registry should plan to retain the present regional office structure, without major change, for the foreseeable future. The Report considered that the Registry's District network of offices had been a considerable success, the tangible benefits being staff units of an optimal size; the ability to recruit more able staff; improvements in performance through benchmarking throughout the network; and convenient units for piloting new processes.

19 Mar 2003 : Column 860W

Most of the Registry's work takes place in 24 District Land Registries and other units located outside London. The Land Registry's policy is to provide and maintain sufficient good quality accommodation with first class working environments to enable business operations to be carried out efficiently and effectively.

Next Section Index Home Page