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Recent assessments by NGOs working at community level in Zimbabwe suggest that malnutrition is not presently high by emergency standards, but that food availability and affordability are decreasing. The Government of Zimbabwe claimed last year that there had been a bumper crop and that it would not need international food aid during the period up to the next harvest (around April 2005). However, independent surveys suggest that the last harvest was much lower than the Zimbabwean Government claim.
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The Government cancelled the UN crop assessment and have not provided information to donors and UN agencies about their imports, stocks or their ability to sell or distribute grain. Even if the Government of Zimbabwe can import and distribute enough food, many vulnerable groups will not have resources to buy it. The World Food Programme continue to provide targeted feeding through their regional programme predominantly through institutions such as schools and clinics and some food supplements to Home Based Care programmes.
DFID Zimbabwe, in collaboration with other major donors and the UN system, will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe closely, while continuing to provide targeted food assistance and other humanitarian support to the most vulnerable sections of Zimbabwe society through NGO programmes which we are able to fund directly. At present DFID provides support to over 1.5 million of the poorest people with the goal to improve household food security through agricultural inputs and targeted food aid.
Hilary Benn: The Government of Zimbabwe's decision not to renew their appeal to the United Nations for food aid is of concern to the humanitarian community. The absence of an appeal may restrict the World Food Programme's capacity to plan, seek funding for, and implement further emergency operations over the coming months. Many observers believe that the Government intend to control the supply and availability of food in the country over the coming months as a political tool to gain votes in the parliamentary elections, scheduled for 31 March 2005. Donor-funded relief programmes have remained generally free of political interference. But there has been some evidence that access to food distributed by the Zimbabwe Government is being politicised. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Mr. David Marshall:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people claimed attendance allowance in each constituency in Scotland in the latest period for which figures are available; 
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Maria Eagle: The administration of attendance allowance is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Disability and Carers Service, Mr. Terry Moran. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.
In reply to two of your recent Parliamentary Questions about the Disability and Carers Service, the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Eagle MP, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. In the Chief Executive's absence I have been asked to reply on his behalf.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed attendance allowance and disability living allowance in each constituency in Scotland in the latest period for which figures are available. The information requested is as follows:
|Recipients by constituency at 31 August 2004||AA||DLA|
|Airdrie and Shotts||2.2||6.1|
|Argyll and Bute||2.2||3.2|
|Banff and Buchan||1.9||4.7|
|Caithness Sunderland and Easter Ross||1.3||2.9|
|Carrick Cumnock and Doon Valley||2.4||5.9|
|Clydebank and Milngavie||2.2||3.9|
|Coatbridge and Chryston||2.1||5.2|
|Cumbernauld and Kilsyth||1.7||4.1|
|Edinburgh East and Musselburgh||1.7||4.4|
|Edinburgh North and Leigh||1.7||3.7|
|Galloway and Upper Nithsdale||2.1||4.2|
|Greenock and Inverclyde||1.8||4.1|
|Hamilton North and Bellshill||1.6||4.8|
|Inverness East Nairn and Lochaber||2.3||3.4|
|Kilmarnock and Loudoun||2.5||4.2|
|Motherwell and Wishaw||2.2||5.3|
|North East Fife||1.4||2.2|
|Orkney and Shetland||1.0||1.5|
|Ross Skye and Inverness West||2.0||3.2|
|Roxburgh and Berwickshire||1.7||2.7|
|Strathkelvin and Bearsden||2.2||3.5|
|Tweeddale Ettrick and Lauderdale||1.8||2.5|
|West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine||1.6||2.0|
Maria Eagle: Detailed work force plans are currently being developed for Scotland the outcome of which will inform any requirements for funded early releases. Until detailed business cases are fully developed it is too early to say if any redundancies will be required. Our intention remains that wherever possible we will avoid compulsory redundancy.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the policy of the Benefits Agency is on visiting people who wish to make a claim but cannot attend an office; and if he will make a statement; 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply direct to your questions concerning the Benefits Agency policy on visiting people who wish to make a claim for benefit but cannot attend the office and what assistance is available from the Benefits Agency to people who wish to make claims but cannot understand the forms
The Jobcentre Plus Customers' Charter explains the level of service our customers can expect from our network which includes the new style Jobcentre Plus offices, social security offices and Jobcentres. Copies of the Jobcentre Plus Customers' Charter are available from the Library.
All our claim forms have a statement, which tells customers to contact the local office should they have problems with completing a claim form. For example, if a customer has difficulties that affect the way they can use our service and they have made us aware of this, we will discuss with them the best ways in which we can help them.
Where customers have literacy difficulties, we can help them or, if they prefer, we could refer them to a third party in their local area, where such arrangements are in place. For instance, if a customer had difficulties completing Jobseeker's Allowance claim forms, arrangements would be made for them to attend the office in advance of their interview to get help with completion.
Where there is a legitimate reason for the customer being unable to attend the office or complete and return a postal claim form, a visit will be offered. For example where the customer has a physical, learning, mental, or communication difficulty, and it is not reasonable for anyone else to help, a visit will be arranged with the customer.
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