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John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what action he proposes to take regarding benefits and direct payments being claimed by carers on behalf of claimants with particular reference to issues raised with the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr.Pond) on BBC Radio 4 on 12 March; 
(2) what representations he has received concerning difficulties faced by authorised third parties in cashing giro cheques at post offices on behalf of claimants; what discussions he has had with (a) the Post Office and (b) Alliance and Leicester on the issues; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Pond: Cheque payments are designed for the small number of people who we cannot pay directly into an account. We settled on this solution following extensive consultation with customer representative groups. The cheque provides the facility for a third party (including a carer) to cash cheques under £450 on the customer's behalf at a Post Office and this facility has worked successfully for many years.
We need to strike a balance between a customer's right to access their benefit or pension and the need to prevent the cheque being cashed by an unauthorised person without the customer's knowledge. For this reason the Post Office requires the third party presenting the cheque for encashment to produce evidence of both their own and the customer's identity.
There is currently a wide range of forms of identification, which are acceptable to the Post Office to enable a carer or other person to cash a cheque on a customer's behalf. These are listed on the reverse of the cheque. In addition other forms of identification may be accepted at the discretion of the postmaster.
Officials have obtained a report from Post Office Ltd. about the circumstances of the case raised with me on BBC Radio 4 on 12 March 2004. Neither the Department nor Post Office Ltd. have seen any evidence to suggest that there are widespread difficulties being faced by authorised third parties cashing cheques on behalf of customers. However, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and make improvements to the process if necessary.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claims for bereavement benefits there were in each of the last five years; how many were submitted by individuals in receipt of incapacity benefit; and how many were successful in each case. 
[holding answer 23 March 2005]: Bereavement Benefit was introduced in April 2001. Information on the number of claims is not available. The available information on the number of recipients is in the table.
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|All bereavement benefit recipients in Great Britain||36,300||43,600||45,300|
|Widowed parents allowance recipients in Great Britain||13,400||20,100||25,300|
|Bereavement allowance recipients in Great Britain||22,900||23,500||20,000|
|Bereavement Benefit recipients also receiving IB/SDA||2,000||1,800||1,200|
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the implications for the Department for Work and Pensions of the ruling by the Court of Appeal that a separated father on jobseeker's allowance with a shared residence order for his children is entitled to claim child-related benefits, even though the mother is also in receipt of those benefits; 
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many civil servants in his Department have (a) been relocated and (b) been agreed for relocation in the last 12 months; and to which areas of the United Kingdom. 
Maria Eagle: As announced in Spending Review 2004 as part of the Independent Review of Public Sector Relocation, the Department put forward proposals to relocate some 4,000 posts from London and the South East.
By March 2005 the Department had relocated 2,344 posts from London and the South East. Posts have relocated to East Midlands, North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber regions, and to Scotland and Wales. Plans are in place to relocate the remaining posts by 2008.
Maria Eagle: There are a number of programmes, such as Access to Work, Work Preparation and Workstep designed to help disabled people return to work. Jobcentre Plus also offers interviews with a personal adviser to all disabled people making new or repeat claims to qualifying benefits to ensure they are aware of the help and opportunities available to them.
Work Preparation is an individually tailored, work-focused programme that enables disabled people to address barriers associated with their disability and prepare for working with the confidence necessary to achieve and sustain their job goal.
Workstep provides support in jobs for disabled people who have more complex barriers to finding and keeping work but who, with the right support, can work effectively and develop in their job. Longer-term support continues to be available for those who need it and is a major element of the programme.
Disabled people may also receive help through the new deal programme. New deal for disabled people is a voluntary programme which gives customers on qualifying disability or health-related benefits in England, Scotland and Wales access to a network of job brokers. Job brokers work with customers to help them compete in the labour market and support them in finding and keeping a job.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assumptions have been made in the Government's medium-term forecasts in his Department's benefit expenditure tables with regard to the number of invalidity benefit claimants returning to work through the (a) the new deal for disabled people and (b) pathways to work in relation to (i) the number of recipients of invalidity benefit, severe disablement allowance and income support and (ii) expenditure from
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200304 to 200708 on invalidity benefit, severe disablement allowance and income support for sick and disabled people. 
Maria Eagle [holding answer 22 March 2005]: Future impacts of the new deal for disabled people and the pathways to work pilots are implicitly included in the forecasts of incapacity benefit (which replaced invalidity benefit in 1995), severe disablement allowance and income support recipients and expenditure included in the Department's benefit expenditure tables, which were published at the pre-Budget report.
It is assumed that the impact of these policies, as far as they have affected the past flows on and off of benefit, will continue largely as observed in the past. As it is difficult to isolate the past impact of these policies separately from other factors which might have affected flows on and off of benefit, it is not possible to make explicit assumptions about their specific impact on the forecasts.
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