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Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the projects being undertaken by his Department in respect of which information cannot be given in answer to parliamentary questions as a result of commercial confidentiality. 
Maria Eagle: The Department considers each request for information on an individual basis. Any decision not to release information relating to a project as a result of commercial confidentiality would be made on the basis of the specific request.
Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent on pensioners in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the UK in each year since 1997. 
|Jarrow Constituency||South Tyneside||North East||Great Britain|
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of social security fraud were dealt with by officers in benefit offices in Weymouth in (a) 200102, (b) 200203 and (c) 200304. 
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many fraud officers he expects will be based in benefits offices in Weymouth in 200506; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the public service agreement target to reduce losses from fraud and error for people of working age in income support and jobseeker's allowance by 33 per cent. by 2004 was met. 
Mr. Pond: Our tough action against fraud and error is paying off for the taxpayer. We have reduced fraud and error in income support and jobseeker's allowance by 37 per cent., exceeding the original target of 33 per cent. by March 2004.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what recent progress has been made towards the public service agreement target to improve children's communication, social and emotional development; 
(2) what recent assessment he has made of whether the public service agreement target to ensure that 50 per cent. of children reach a good level of development at the end of Foundation Stage by 2008 will be met; 
(3) what recent assessment he has made of whether the public service agreement target to increase the take-up of formal child care by lower income families by 50 per cent. by 2008 will be met; 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of whether the public service agreement target to increase the stock of Ofsted-registered child care by 10 per cent. by 2008 will be met. 
Since 1997, employment nationally has risen by over two million and the number of people in work is up in every region. While every region has an employment rate above the EU average, describing the
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labour market at regional level can be misleading as there is much greater variation within, rather than between, regions.
Around 90 per cent. of all local authority districts in Great Britain have an employment rate above the EU average, and a key element of the Government's labour market policies is improving the performance of the relatively small number of areas within each region where this is not the case.
Since 1997 claimant unemployment has halved, long-term unemployment has fallen by more than three quarters and the number of lone parents on benefit has fallen by a fifth. In addition, the number of people on incapacity benefits has peaked after two decades of substantial growth. The improvements have been greatest in the areas where, in 1997, benefit receipt was highest.
While this has moved us closer to the aim of full employment in every region, the Department's five year strategy set out the Government's long-term aspiration to achieve an employment rate equivalent to 80 per cent. of the working age population. This will mean continuing to focus on those who can get back into work, including people on incapacity benefits, lone parents, older people and the long-term unemployed.
Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what discussions the Ethnic Minority Employment Taskforce has had with the Equal Opportunities Commission on ensuring that research for the taskforce identifies issues specific to women's employment; 
Jane Kennedy: The Taskforce recognises that addressing gender issues will be essential to the success of the ethnic minority employment strategy. Officials from the Department for Work and Pensions have had a number of discussions with the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) on issues affecting the employment of ethnic minority women. The EOC have submitted a research proposal on factors affecting the progression of ethnic minority women entering and re-entering the labour market and officials are currently considering the proposal in the context of the ethnic minority employment strategy.
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