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Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of the calculations of the cost of paying full compensation to all affected members under the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS), which are referred to in the minutes of the meeting between his FAS team officials and occupational pensioners on 24 November at his Department. 
The Government have not made definitive estimates of the costs of providing assistance under the Financial Assistance Scheme. Definitive estimates will be made public once they are available. The full extent of losses can only be known once all potentially eligible schemes have been identified and information obtained on the individuals affected and the scale of their losses. Calculations made in advance of this data being available are inherently provisional. To release any such provisional calculations could be misleading. In accordance with Part 2, paragraph 11 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, I will not be releasing any calculations relating to incomplete research and analysis.
21 Dec 2004 : Column 1727W
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in his Department have been employed to deal with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (a) 2001, (b) 2002, (c) 2003 and (d) 2004; and how many staff are budgeted to deal with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. 
The implementation of the Freedom of Information Act across DWP builds on existing processes for dealing with requests under the Open Government Code of Practice and the Data Protection Act. The Department's 250 or so data protection officers will take on additional responsibilities for Freedom of Information matters, supported by a network of 20 Freedom of Information focal points across key business units and a small central team of three staff.
Beyond those staff directly involved in the ongoing implementation and application of Freedom of Information within the Department, it is difficult to identify precisely the number of officials who will be dealing with Freedom of Information issues from 1 January 2005, since it is potentially part of every civil servant's role to respond to Freedom of Information requests.
DWP provides a huge amount of information on a daily basis to a wide range of customers about benefits, child support and back to work services. This will continue under the Freedom of Information regime where we expect the majority of written requests for information to be dealt with as now as part of normal business.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the likely effects on benefit fraud, expressed as an annual percentage, of the introduction of identity cards. 
However, a study on identity fraud by the Cabinet Office, published in 2002, estimated that up to £50 million per year of benefit fraud was a result of identity fraud. This figure was derived from Regional Benefit Review data collected from Jobseeker's Allowance and Income Support claims. The introduction of an Identity Card would have a significant impact by removing the bulk of this loss.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has undertaken of the likely impact of identity cards on benefit fraud; and if he will place copies of the written assessments that he has undertaken in the Library. 
However, a study on identity fraud by the Cabinet Office, published in 2002, estimated that up to £50 million per year of benefit fraud was a result of identity fraud. This figure was derived from Regional Benefit Review data collected from jobseeker's allowance and income support claims. This amount was used to inform the Home Office feasibility study into the impacts of the proposed identity card scheme. The introduction of an identity card would have a significant impact, by removing the bulk of this loss.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the cost of installing biometric card readers (a) in total and (b) as an average per facility for benefit offices in the UK; and what estimate he has made of the annual cost of maintenance for biometric card readers in these facilities. 
Mr. Pond: We have conducted a high level assessment of the number of card readers that will be required by the Department. Our initial estimate is that in the region of 4,500 readers may be required. The Home Office currently estimate that the cost of a card reader would fall within the range of £250-£750 depending on their level of sophistication and performance. This would equate to a total of between £1,125,000 and £3,375,000.
Detailed work is still ongoing in relation to the overall maintenance costs. These costs will become clearer following further definition of the ID card scheme and DWP business requirements for interaction with the scheme are fully known.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has made to the Home Office regarding (a) the timescale and (b) the cost of introducing biometric card readers in benefit offices in the UK. 
Mr. Pond: We are working closely with the Home Office to agree timescales for the introduction of biometric readers into benefit offices. Detailed work is still ongoing to establish the cost and types of readers that may be used.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young unemployed people have worked to improve the insulation of pensioners' homes under the new deal in each year since the scheme was introduced. 
Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken in (a) Eston Jobcentre Plus and (b) Redcar Jobcentre Plus was for a jobseekers allowance claimant to go from the initial phone call to their appointment with the personal adviser and the financial adviser, in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the average time taken in Eston Jobcentre Plus and Redcar Jobcentre Plus between a Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) claimant's initial phone call, to their appointment with the personal adviser and the financial adviser, in the most recent period for which figures are available. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Under Jobcentre Plus operations, a claim to JSA or Income Support usually starts with a telephone call to the Contact Centre. After obtaining initial details, Contact Centre staff call the customer back to obtain the necessary information to complete a claim to benefit. They also arrange an appointment for the customer to attend their local office to see both a Financial Assessor and a Personal Adviser.
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