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Freedom of Information

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is in respect of the publication (a) on the departmental website and (b) by placing copies in the Library of (i) all or (ii) a selection of the information disclosed in response to Freedom of Information requests since January. [215224]

Maria Eagle: Guidance on Publication Schemes, issued by the Department for Constitutional Affairs in July 2002, recommended that where information is disclosed to an individual in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, Departments and NDPBs should consider whether the information disclosed is of general interest and include released information in the Publication Scheme where appropriate.

The Department for Work and Pensions now has arrangements in place for information that is of wider general interest, and which has been released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, to be posted on its internet site where it will be readily accessible. There are no plans to place such information in the Library.

Incapacity Benefit

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures his Department is implementing to encourage those claiming incapacity benefit to return to work if they are able to do so. [215951]

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Maria Eagle: The Government's vision is to deliver a fundamental change in the way that people with a health condition or disability, but who want and are able to work, are given support to find, remain and progress in employment. We believe that everyone who wants and is able to get back to work should be helped and enabled to do so.

Our groundbreaking Pathways to Work programme provides intensive help and support to people on incapacity benefits who want to work again. In December 2004 we announced a significant extension of the Pathways to Work pilots to include an additional 14Jobcentre Plus districts starting from October this year.

Building on the expansion of Pathways to Work we have announced a number of measures as part of the Five Year Strategy that will improve incapacity benefits in order to ensure that there are clear rewards for moving into work, and that will address the anxieties many claimants have about trying out a job by minimising the risks. We recognise that a person's health condition can affect their ability to work in varying degrees, sometimes making work very unlikely, but sometimes leaving a good prospect of a return to work.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the percentage of incapacity benefit claims that subsequently proved to be unsubstantiated in the last year for which figures are available. [216337]

Maria Eagle: The level of fraud in incapacity benefit is very low, estimated at less than 3 per cent. of expenditure when last measured.

Evidence of fraud in incapacity benefit is investigated thoroughly. This resulted in 613 prosecutions in 2003–04.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he plans to take to discourage general practitioners from issuing sick notes that support dubious incapacity benefit claims. [216338]

Maria Eagle: The vast majority of GPs provide advice on fitness for work which they believe to be in the best interests of their patient. The Department has recently revised the guidance to doctors about providing advice to patients on fitness for work and appropriate certification. This guidance is supported by case examples and evidence based recovery times and is available on the Department's website.

The Department also works with GPs, royal medical colleges and universities in developing undergraduate and post graduate training materials to support doctors in

providing appropriate advice.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what ways changes to incapacity benefit will affect long-term claimants. [216339]

Maria Eagle: The reforms to incapacity benefits, as set out in the five year strategy, will apply to new claimants only. However, existing claimants, including long-term claimants, would be able to access the help and support on offer to help them return to work.
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Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in the Bridgwater constituency were claiming incapacity benefit in each year since 1997. [217351]

Maria Eagle: The information is in the table.
All incapacity benefit and severe disability allowance claimants in the Bridgwater parliamentary constituency, at the quarter shown

As at 31 August:Number

1.Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
2.Claimant figures include all incapacity benefit, severe disability allowance and credits-only cases.
IAD Information Centre, 5 per cent. data

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect on the number of people leaving incapacity benefit of the means-testing of new claims. [217608]

Maria Eagle: Incapacity benefit is not a means-tested benefit.

International Labour Organisation Report

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the findings of the report on Forced Labour and Migration to the UK. [216130]

Mr. Pond: Our initial assessment is that the draft report, because for example it is based on a very small number of interviews, does not present a balanced view of current UK policy, law and practice and that some of the recommendations are very difficult to justify. Officials, having consulted officials from other relevant Government Departments, are responding to the ILO on the detail, and we will make a further assessment when they have completed their discussions.

IT (Disciplinary Procedures)

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in his Department have (a) received official warnings and (b) faced disciplinary procedures following breaches of IT policy in each year since 1997. [205815]

Maria Eagle: Information is not collected on the number of DWP staff who have received official warnings following breaches of IT policy.

Information on DWP staff who have faced disciplinary procedures following breaches of IT policy is available from July 2003. The information is in the table.
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Staff in the Department who have faced disciplinary procedures following breaches of IT policy

July 2003 to March 2004253
April 2004 to September 2004171

All DWP staff are subject to the Department's Standards of Behaviour statement which is based on the Civil Service Code.

The Department's Electronic Media policy sets out the conditions for the official and personal use of the Department for Work and Pensions' Information Technology (IT) and covers intranet, internet, email, work PC and laptop.

Both the Department's Standards of Behaviour and Electronic Media policy are available and publicised on the DWP intranet site.

All forms of misconduct are dealt with under the Departments disciplinary policy and procedures. The Department's disciplinary policy includes, under gross misconduct:

If anyone in the Department is charged with or convicted of a criminal offence they are required to inform their manager straight away.

When an offence comes to light consideration is given to establish whether restriction of duties, transfer or suspension from duty is appropriate and what disciplinary action is required. Failure to report a criminal caution can of itself be treated as a disciplinary offence.

Job Centres

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which job centres (a) are due to be closed and (b) are due to remain open; what the timescale is for those remaining open to become Jobcentre Plus; and if he will make a statement. [207898]

Jane Kennedy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Simon Hughes, dated 21 February 2005:

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