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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of levels of fraud and error in connection with payment of housing benefit within the local housing allowance pilot areas. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available as requested as data is not available below national level. Our latest estimates of fraud and error in housing benefit are published in Fraud and Error in Housing Benefit April 2002 to March 2004", which is available in the Library.
We are continuing to evaluate the local housing allowance within the pathfinder areas. Qualitative data will be gathered for local authority staff as part of the evaluation programme. However, this will not include data on fraud and error.
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Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the impact on benefit claimants in (a) Amber Valley and (b) Derbyshire of the decision to close the medical examination centres in Derbyshire; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what requirements were placed by his Department on Atos Origin for determining the provision of medical examination centres for claimants of (a) incapacity benefit and (b) industrial injuries benefit; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) how many Amber Valley residents claiming (a) incapacity benefit and (b) industrial injuries benefit travelled to medical examination centres in (i) Derby, (ii) Chesterfield, (iii) Mansfield and (iv) Nottingham in each of the last five years. 
Mrs. McGuire: As part of detailed discussion following the award of a new medical services contract the Department and Atos Origin are discussing a range of proposals including an estates strategy that will both improve service standards and secure investment in other areas. Further information will be made available once these discussions have been concluded.
Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in (a) Dudley, North and (b) Dudley as a whole are in receipt of the pension credit; how much they receive on average; how many people he estimates are eligible; and what steps are (i) in train and (ii) planned to encourage those who are not claiming pension credit to do so. 
Mr. Timms: Information on the number of people in receipt of pension credit in Dudley, North and the local authority area of Dudley, and average awards, is set out in the following table. Information on the number of people who are eligible for pension credit is not available in respect of individual constituencies or local authority areas.
The focus of the pension credit take-up campaign now concentrates on those people likely to be entitled but who have not responded to approaches so far. New marketing campaigns have been developed, which maximise the use of available data and which are carefully targeted on the regions and on demographic groups under-represented in relation to the volume of pension credit applications received. We are continually reviewing how the most eligible pensioners are responding to us and assessing alternative ways of contacting them.
|Average award (£)|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how employers will be informed of their expected contribution levels to the Pension Protection Fund; and if he will list the expected 10 largest contributors to the Fund. 
It is not possible to disclose the details of the 10 largest contributors to the Pension Protection Fund. This is restricted information", held by the Pensions Regulator, where onward disclosure is only permitted to specified bodies for specific purposes in accordance with the provisions of the Pensions Act 2004.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 14 June 2005, Official Report, column 264W, on pensions, if he will list those representatives of the pensions industry with whom the issue of contracting-out was discussed. 
Mr. Timms: My colleagues and I have recently had meetings with various representatives of the pensions industry. These have included representatives from the Association of British Insurers, the Pensions Commission, Watson Wyatt and the National Association of Pension Funds. Contracting out was amongst the issues discussed.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on planned changes (a) to increase the minimum financial holdings contained within pension reserves and (b) to prohibit inappropriate use of pension funds. 
Mr. Timms: The new scheme funding requirements set out in the Pensions Act 2004, and due to come into effect later this year, will require the trustees of private sector defined benefit schemes to adopt a funding strategy appropriate to the circumstances of their scheme. This strategy must provide for the scheme's pension commitments to be funded on a sufficiently prudent basis as required by the European Directive on the Activities and Supervision of Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision.
New regulations governing occupational scheme investments, due to come into force later this year, will incorporate the prudent person principle explicitly into pensions legislation, in particular by requiring trustees to exercise their investment powers to ensure the security, quality, liquidity and profitability of the portfolio as a whole as required by the European Directive mentioned above. These provisions build on the existing fiduciary duty of pension scheme trustees to
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act in the best interest of their members, and statutory safeguards which require trustees to have regard to the suitability of proposed investments and the diversification of scheme assets, and the maintenance of a written statement of investment principles.
Since April this year, the Pensions Regulator has been able to apply to the High Court for an injunction (in Scotland to the Court of Session for an interdict), which the court may grant where it is satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood that a person will do an act which constitutes a misuse or misappropriation of assets of an occupational or personal pension scheme; or a person has done any such act and that there is a reasonable likelihood that he will continue or repeat the act or do a similar act.
Mr. Timms: The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) came into force on 6 April 2005. Members of pension schemes that began winding up before that date are not eligible for compensation form the PPF, but may be eligible for support from the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS). The Dexion Group Pension and Assurance Scheme was included in the indicative list, published on 22 February, of schemes which may be eligible for the FAS. Final decisions on whether schemes are eligible for FAS will be made as soon as possible after the FAS regulations have come into force. Draft regulations were laid on 22 June and are awaiting parliamentary approval.
Mr. Timms: The level of the Pension Protection Fund compensation cap is prescribed in regulations and will be increased annually in line with earnings. The level of the proposed cap on Financial Assistance Scheme payments is set out in the draft regulations which were laid on 22 June.
Mr. Timms: Any payment received by members of the Dexion pension scheme from the Financial Assistance Scheme will be treated for tax purposes in broadly the same way as payments from an occupational pension scheme.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many company pensions have failed in each year since 1997; how many pension holders were affected; what the nominal pension reserve was in each case; whether withdrawals had been made
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from each pension fund at the time of the collapse of the business; how much and what proportion of the pension fund remained in each such case; and if he will make a statement; 
Such information as is available from the register of pension schemes maintained by the Pensions Regulator indicates that around 720 private sector defined benefit schemes (with around 140,000 members in all) started to wind up between January 2000 and October 2004. These figures do not include schemes which completed wind-up during that period. The figures do not distinguish between schemes connected to solvent and insolvent employers. Information in the register on schemes which started to wind up before January 2000 does not show whether wind-up started before or after 1997. The register does not hold the information requested on scheme funding.
In addition, data collected to inform development of the Financial Assistance Scheme, and published on 22 February, indicates that at least 380 defined benefit schemes with an insolvent employer started to wind up between January 1997 and December 2004. Only very limited data was collected on scheme funding.
Mr. Timms: The draft regulations for the Financial Assistance Scheme were laid on 22 June 2005 and are awaiting parliamentary approval. These contain a provision for payments to be backdated to the date we announced the Financial Assistance Scheme (14 May 2004) or the day on which the qualifying member reached the age of 65, whichever is the later. Arrears payments are likely to be in the form of a lump sum.
Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what level of basic state pension a person must have before a full state second pension added onto it will bring them outside eligibility for current pension credit. 
A person who is entitled to the maximum amount of Additional State Pension (SERPS and State Second Pension), currently around £140 per week, would also be entitled to a basic state pension of more than half the current rate thus producing an income of at least £180 per week. A single person with income at this level would not normally be eligible for pension credit. However, people with severe disability, caring responsibility and housing costs could still be eligible."
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