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17 Nov 2004 : Column 1666W—continued

Permitted Work Regulations

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the independent evaluation he has commissioned of (a) the impact of the Permitted Work Regulations relating
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to incapacity benefit and (b) the impact on those who have not made the transition to work for more than 16 hours. [196356]

Maria Eagle: The permitted work rules are an integral part of the Government's plans for reform of the benefit system. They are in line with our policy of helping people with health conditions and disabilities to focus on what they can do rather than what they cannot do. The rules are currently being evaluated by independent researchers. A report on the first two phases of the evaluation has been completed and is due for publication on 14 December. The findings will be used to help inform the continuing development of our policy.

Retired People (Benefit Take-up)

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people over retirement age who live in the London borough of Wandsworth who are not claiming the benefits to which they are entitled. [198187]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available.

Estimates of the number of pensioners eligible to but not receiving income-related benefits are available on a national basis only. Statistics for 2001–02—the latest year for which information is available—are contained in the DWP report: "Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-up in 2001–02". Copies of the publication can be found in the Library.

Staff Reductions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimates he has made of the (a) pension and (b) redundancy costs associated with the targets set by Sir Peter Gershon for reductions in the number of staff in his Department and its associated agencies. [194818]

Maria Eagle: The Department has yet to complete planning for the full programme of staff reductions to 2008 and therefore costs of the total reductions are not available. It is not possible at this stage to estimate what proportion of the staff reductions will be as a result of redundancies but the Department is committed to achieving staffing reductions by redeployment or voluntary means wherever possible.

The cost of staff reductions will be met from within the departmental allocations set out in the Spending Review 2004 White Paper, including allocations from the Efficiency Challenge Fund. There will be no additional implications for Government expenditure.

State Retirement Pension

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of those whose age entitles them to draw the basic state pension (a) claim the full amount, (b) claim part of the amount and (c) claim none of the amount to which someone of their age is entitled; and what the main reasons are for people drawing less than the full amount. [197554]

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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 11 November 2004]: State pension becomes payable from State Pension age, currently age 60 for women and age 65 from men. Once claimed, the full entitlement is paid.

People of state pension age have the choice of deferring their state pension and claiming it at a later point to become entitled to a higher amount. It is estimated that around 60,000 people are deferring their state pension at present.

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) lowest and (b) highest weekly levels paid of the state retirement pension are; and if he will make a statement. [198926]

Malcolm Wicks: The state pension comprises four components: basic state pension; additional state pension; graduated retirement benefit and non-contributory retirement pension.

The maximum amount of the basic state pension payable in 2004–05 where the contribution conditions are fully satisfied is £79.60 per week or £47.65 per week in the case of a married woman whose entitlement is derived from her husband's contribution record. The comparable minimum amounts are £19.90 and £11.91.

The maximum amount of additional state pension payable in 2004–05 is £140.44 per week. There is no de-minimis.

The maximum amount of graduated retirement benefit payable in 2004–05 is £8.28 per week in the case of a man and £6.93 in the case of a woman. The minimum amount payable is £0.10p per week.

A non-contributory state pension which is currently £47.65 per week is payable to those who satisfy the entitlement conditions. Any person entitled to a state pension from the age of 80 also receives an age addition of 0.25p per week.

Theft and Fraud

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the cost of theft and fraud to (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies in each year since 1997. [191414]

Mr. Pond: The Department estimates that there is some 2 billion of fraud within the social security system across the range of benefits. These estimates are based on a mixture of in-depth rolling programmes that re-perform a large sample of benefit awards each year in certain benefits, and snapshots of customer error and fraud—national benefit reviews and pilot benefit reviews—on other benefits, taken at various times back to 1996–97.

The highest risk of fraud and error lies within Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance. For these benefits the Department have in place a continuous rolling programme of checking to determine and monitor the extent of fraud and error. The Department has a PSA
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Target by 2006 to reduce by 50 per cent. the losses from fraud and error in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance as compared to the 1997 baseline. The Department is making good progress towards achieving this target.

Details of estimated cost of theft to the Department are presented in Table 1.

Details of the estimated cost of internal and contractor fraud to the Department are presented in Table 2.
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Table 1

Jobcentre Plus55,475447,287184,131
Child Support Agency13,03724,70018,684
Appeals Service6,6756,7402,100
The Pensions Service50018,560
Departmental Headquarters and Shared Directorates21,42083,03180,177

Losses for non departmental public bodies are not recorded or identifiable separately.

Table 2

Jobcentre Plus918,790430,780389,87444,309208,823557,00771,100
The Pension Service600
Child Support Agency574178,9509,2004,1111,812
Appeals Service20324
War Pensions Agency1,5003,583
Employment Service97,24254,10745,6243,0231,045,977
Contributions Agency2,5721,824
Departmental Headquarters and Shared Directorates14,0196208,595
Information Technology Services Agency20,95910,9428,325

This information has been compiled from annual returns to HM Treasury detailing fraud losses.
Jobcentre Plus—a new agency created in 2002 merging parts of the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service. Figures up to 2001–2002 relate to losses within the Benefits Agency.
Employment Service—figures to 2001–2002 include contractor fraud.
Contributions Agency transferred to Inland Revenue in 1999.
War Pensions Agency transferred to the Ministry of Defence in 2002
Information Technology Services Agency ceased to exist in 2001

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