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1 Nov 2004 : Column 115W—continued

Departmental Redundancies

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what funding has been set aside to retrain staff from job centres and benefits agency offices who lose their jobs. [190677]

Jane Kennedy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to my hon. Friend.
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Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Chris Ruane, dated 1 November 2004:

Gangmasters/Employment Agencies

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department has access to the data collated from the ACU1 forms, ACU2 forms and 46ACU forms that are returned to the Inland Revenue Agricultural Compliance Unit by those using the services of a gangmaster or employment agency. [192596]

Mr. Pond: DWP has access to the data collated on forms ACU1, ACU2 and 46ACU through Section 109 of the Social Security Act 1992 when the documents are held at a place of work and through Section 122 of the Social Security Act 1992 when the documents are held by the Inland Revenue.

Gas Installers Qualifications

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training opportunities are available for older workers who wish to retrain to achieve Council for Registered Gas Installers qualifications; and how local information on access to those opportunities can be obtained. [193628]

Jane Kennedy: Training opportunities may be available through Ambition:Energy which is a national pilot programme aimed at addressing skill shortages in the energy sector, whilst providing quality job opportunities for unemployed or inactive people aged 18 and over. Ambition:Energy recently won a prestigious National Training Award for the partnership between Jobcentre Plus and Energy and Utility Skills.

Ambition:Energy offers training to NVQ level 2 in Domestic Gas Installation and Maintenance, which enables the qualification holder to become CORGI registered. The training comprises 27 weeks' technical and lifeskills training plus work experience with a potential employer, while the individual remains on benefit plus a training allowance. Participants also receive driving tuition, if required. Once in employment, participants complete a further eight weeks' training and assessment to achieve the full NVQ2, normally within the first six months.

Although Ambition:Energy is a national programme, courses are only run where employer commitment to real jobs has been clearly defined. As a result, 929 people have successfully secured jobs as domestic gas installers
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(69 per cent. of those starting the programme) and 89 per cent. remain in employment for at least six months.

When employer engagement has been defined, intensive advertising is undertaken in the recruitment area through the Jobcentre Plus network. This involves a combination of Jobcentre Plus Adviser awareness activities, publicity materials and engagement with outreach organisations.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process housing benefit claims was in each local authority in each of the last two years. [194538]

Mr. Pond: Since September 2002, DWP has published a range of performance indicators showing the speed and accuracy for all local authorities in the administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit. The statistics are published on the DWP website on a quarterly basis at and are also available in the Library.
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The publication of the fourth quarter's data of 2003–04 on 24 June 2004 provided the final audited figures for 2002–03, and un-audited annual figures for 2003–04.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of housing benefit claims were refused in the last period for which figures are available. [194539]

Mr. Pond: In 2003–04 the percentage of housing benefit claims that were refused was 11.8 per cent. This figure is based on un-audited data provided to the Department by local authorities on a quarterly basis.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of those claiming incapacity benefit also received (a) income support and (b) disability premiums in each year since 1997; and if he will estimate the cost of income support and disability premium payments to incapacity benefit claimants in each year since 1997. [193001]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 21 October 2004]: The information is in the tables.
Working age claimants of Incapacity Benefit (IB), Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA), or National Insurance credits only (Credits only)

All claimants of IB/SDA/Credits onlyClaimants of IB/SDA/Credits only with Income SupportPercentage of all IB/SDA/Credits only claimantsClaimants of IB/SDA/Credits only with Income Support disability premiumPercentage of all IB/SDA/Credits only claimants
May 19972,522.41,030.840.9720.428.6
May 19982,534.91,071.542.3776.230.6
May 19992,558.01,110.743.4813.431.8
May 20002,584.41,157.544.8860.833.3
May 20012,652.11,224.746.2915.634.5
May 20022,655.01,237.746.6960.936.2
May 20032,669.01,273.847.7991.837.2
May 20042,665.01,269.547.61,003.437.6

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred and shown in thousands.
2. Working age claimants are men aged 16–64 and women aged 16–59.
3. Numbers are taken from a 5 per cent. sample and are subject to a degree of sampling error.
4. Working age client group dataset excludes a small number of Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants who are over State Pension Age (SPA), and Income Support claimants above SPA (whether or not they have a partner under SPA).
5. Figures cover individuals claiming both IB/SDA and IS. There will be some additional cases where a person claims IB/SDA with their partner claiming IS on behalf of the benefit unit. The number of such cases is unknown.
IAD Information Centre, 5 per cent. samples

Income support paid to people receiving Incapacity Benefit payments

Nominal terms £ million
Real terms £ million,
With or without a disability premiumWith a disability premiumWith or without a disability premiumWith a disability premium
Income Support paid to people receiving Incapacity Benefit credits

1. Figures show total cost of Income Support paid to Incapacity Benefit recipients, and people receiving National Insurance Credits on grounds of incapacity, whether they receive a Disability Premium in Income Support or not, and separately, spending only for those that receive a Disability Premium. Spending on the latter group is a subset of the expenditure on the former group.
2. Figures are estimates based on a 5 per cent. sample of the caseload, taken in February, May, August and November each year. They have been calculated by multiplying weekly average amounts for each group by the caseload in each group. This figure was multiplied by 52 to give an estimate of annual costs.

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Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which medical services that receive referrals from Jobcentre Plus with reference to incapacity benefit have since appointment (a) hit and (b) missed their 32 working-day target by which they aim to complete their part of the examination process. [194739]

Maria Eagle: The current target of an Average Actual Clearance Time (AACT) of 32 working days for ATOS Origin Medical Services to complete their part of the incapacity benefit examination process has been in place since April 2003. The target is measured in each of the three contract package areas.

The level of achievement against the target up to the end of September 2004 is in the table.

Contract package
Number of months where target was achievedNumber of months where target was missed

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