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2 Apr 2003 : Column 749W—continued

Travel Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost was of travel by train by staff in her Department in 2002. [106349]

Dr. Howells: DCMS expenditure for travelling and subsistence for 2001–02 was £752,860. The cost of travel by train by staff can be obtained only at disproportionate cost as travel costs are not analysed on the Department's finance system according to the modes of travel.

Work Permits

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how her Department was consulted on the proposal to charge £95 for each work permit for entertainers playing engagements in the UK; and how she responded; [106473]

Dr. Howells: DCMS was sent details of the charging proposals as part of the formal consultation Work Permits United Kingdom (WPUK) conducted last year and made no comment. The findings of the consultation document were published on 30 September 2002 and are available on the WPUK website at www.workpermits.gov.uk.

I have not assessed the impact of the charges on live music venues but WPUK's Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) states that the costs and impact on business will be reviewed annually, and that consideration will be given to evidence provided in relation to exemptions or discounts for certain types of employers or employment. Details of the RIA are on the Home Office website at www.homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

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HOME DEPARTMENT

Charities

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines are in place to determine which charities and charitable organisations will receive direct funding from central and local government. [105685]

Beverley Hughes: No central guidelines exist. Decisions on funding are the responsibility of each Government Department and local authority.

It is common practice, however, for Departments to publish application criteria and guidance notes for each grant programme to which voluntary and community organisations, including charities and charitable organisations, may wish to apply.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which charities and charitable organisations provide public services (a) alongside and (b) additionally to those provided by (i) central and (ii) local government. [105686]

Beverley Hughes: This information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the Government's expenditure on charities and charitable trusts has been in each year since 1992. [105692]

Beverley Hughes: Information about funding from central gGovernment to voluntary and community groups, including charities and charitable trusts, is currently available in a publication funded by the Home Office, entitled "Central Government Funding of Voluntary and Community Organisations 1982/83 to 1999/2000: ISBN 1 84082 636–3".

Copies of the report are available in Library.

Asylum Seekers

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many of the applicants granted section 4 NASS support received full board accommodation and (a) cash support and (b) no cash support in each month in the last two years; of those who received board and cash, how long each applicant was in receipt of full board; and how much cash support a week they received; and of the applicants who received full board accommodation and no cash, how long they were accommodated; [105958]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 31 March 2003]: I am afraid the information is not available in the precise form requested. Section 4 provides for the

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provision of full board and accommodation only. There is no eligibility for cash support. It is the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) policy to use full board accommodation but in a limited number of cases vouchers may be provided by the contractor to enable the purchase of food to cover some meals. NASS does not have a central record of the number of requests for accommodation under section 4, the length of time taken to process them or the outcome. This information could only be obtained by interrogating individual records.

Mr. Adrian Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long Wellington, Somerset has been included within the Taunton and Bridgwater cluster area for the housing of asylum seekers; and when (a) Taunton Deane Borough Council and (b) Somerset county council were notified. [106103]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 31 March 2003]: The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) conducted all its negotiations on potential dispersal areas through the regional consortia. NASS did not, as a matter of routine, correspond with individual borough councils and county councils. NASS wrote to the lead authority for each regional consortia on 25 January 2000 to inform them of the areasthey were proposing to designate as dispersal areas. Taunton and Bridgwater, including Wellington, was included in this list. At that time the lead authority for the south west region was the City of Bristol. Taunton and Bridgwater, includingWellington, was included in the list of designated areas for dispersal when NASS became operational on 3 April 2000.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with Wandsworth borough council on the borough's policy on paying benefits to people living in the borough and seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. [104636]

Beverley Hughes: The London borough of Wandsworth is responsible for providing support to eligible asylum seekers under the Asylum Support (Interim Provisions) Regulations 1999. The Regulations say that the support must be provided in a way which seems to the council to meet the person's essential living needs. There have been no discussions with Wandsworth on its policy in paying benefits to those living in the borough who are asylum seekers. The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is holding discussions with local authority organisations on whether and, if so, how those asylum seekers currently supported by local authorities could be transferred to the NASS system of support.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of suspected asylum support fraud have been referred to NASS from (a) the Benefit Fraud Hotline and (b) the Targeting Fraud Website; how many investigations have been undertaken as a result; what the outcomes were; what action was taken; how many (i) successful and (ii) unsuccessful prosecutions have resulted; what penalties were imposed; and if he will make a statement. [102775]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 13 March 2003]: The management information records held by The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) do not

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specifically record referrals from the Benefit Fraud Hotline or the Targeting Fraud website. Referrals from these sources would be recorded as being received from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Since 2000 we have received five referrals from DWP. Information on individual investigations received as a result of a referral from DWP could only be obtained by searching individual records. There are also arrangements for joint working where there is overlapping interest.

The number of referrals is low. The Benefit Fraud Hotline was established so that members of the public could give details of possible benefit fraud. The public may not readily identify NASS as being part of the benefits system. Staff at the Benefit Hotline are aware which cases would be of interest to The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) as a whole and there are processes for them to refer these to IND.

The Targeting Fraud website was established to facilitate the reporting of benefit fraud relating to employers rather than individuals who are working. Any referrals from this would be of more interest to the Immigration Service. They are responsible for ensuring that only those foreign nationals eligible to take employment are in fact employed.

Community Support Officers

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police areas have (a) agreed and (b) not agreed to introduce community support officers. [105823]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Twenty seven police forces have already introduced 1,281 community support officers (CSO) they are:


A second funding round for CSOs for 2003–04 is currently taking place but the bidding process is not yet complete. Whilst we are anticipating that more forces will recruit CSOs this year, it is not yet possible to say which forces.


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