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11 Nov 2005 : Column 789W—continued

Benefit Expenditure

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measure of council tax inflation the Department uses for its long-term projections of benefit expenditure. [22405]

Mr. Plaskitt: HM Treasury's long-term assumption for council tax inflation is that it is rising in line with average earnings.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to measure fraud and error in those benefits that are not regularly monitored. [23180]

Mr. Plaskitt: Measurement of fraud and error in benefits is complex and expensive, therefore the Department concentrates on those benefits with the highest level of risk. We carry out continuous measurement of loss through fraud and error in jobseeker's allowance, income support, pension credit and housing benefit and we conduct reviews of other benefits. For example a national benefit review of disability living allowance was conducted in 2004 and the results published in July 2005 as "Fraud, Error and other Incorrectness in disability living allowance", which is available in the Library.

We are committed to continuing these reviews, and over the next few years we will be carrying out a series on other benefits which have a high level of expenditure and potential risk of loss. We envisage that this will enable us to publish a more accurate figure for loss through fraud and error.

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many inspectors the Department has employed for the investigation of benefit fraud in each of the last 10 years. [27638]

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many fraud investigators are in post; and what the equivalent figures were in the previous two years. [16588]

Mr. Plaskitt: The available information is in the table.
DWP fraud investigators

Full time equivalents
June 20041,900.1
June 20051,870.1

Information is not available in the above format prior to 2004.
Fraud Business Report (latest figure available from quarter ending June 2005).

Benefit Receipt (Kingston and Surbiton)

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in the Kingston and Surbiton constituency have (a) applied for and (b) received the disability living allowance in each year since 1997. [23886]

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Mrs. McGuire: The administration of disability living allowance and 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.

Letter from Terry Moran to Mr. Edward Davey, dated 11 November 2005:

Disability living allowance for Kingston and Surbiton parliamentary constituency as at May in each year from1997 to 2005

Cases in Kingston and Surbiton parliamentary constituency

1. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and excludes people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital or abroad for prolonged periods.
2. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant postcode directory.
3. Numbers are rounded to the nearest hundred and are expressed in thousands.
4. "-" Nil or negligible.
5. "." Not applicable.
6. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest hundred. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study for totals and 5 per cent. samples for detail/long time series.


Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the quarterly off-flows from (a) incapacity benefit and (b) severe disability allowance for each quarter from February 2003 to the latest available date, broken down by (i) Jobcentre Plus district and (ii) reason for termination. [24327]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 3 November 2005]: The information has been placed in the Library.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many carbon monoxide poisoning incidents have occurred in public places in each of the last 10 years. [14788]

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Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has responsibility for the safe installation, maintenance and use of gas systems in domestic and commercial premises. It maintains statistics on gas-related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning only in domestic premises. It also maintains statistics on work related poisonings reported to it, which may arise from exposure to substances including CO.

However, HSE has no responsibility for other domestic use of fossil fuels, such as coal, wood or oil, which can also be sources of CO poisoning. It also has no responsibility for air quality in public places.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions payments have been made under the authority of the Chief Executive or the Deputy Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency but without their personal written authorisation; how much these payments have amounted to; for what reasons they were made; and if he will make a statement. [2009]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr Stephen Geraghty. He will write to the hon. Member separately.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty to Mr. David Laws:

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many formal complaints his Department has received from West Lancashire about the Child Support Agency. [27667]

Mr. Plaskitt: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Members for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Michael Moore) and for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone) on 25 October 2005, Official Report, column 279W.

Construction Industry

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government are taking to ensure that health and safety measures are properly enforced in relation to agency workers in the construction industry; and who bears the responsibility of ensuring that health and safety laws are observed in cases where such workers are employed by composite companies rather than directly by the company carrying out the construction work. [16546]

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Mrs. McGuire: The Government, through the Health and Safety Executive, enforces health and safety legislation through a combination of enforcement and advisory techniques such as site inspection and the publication of guidance. Health and safety legislation affords protection to both direct employees and those employed through agencies.

A construction company employing agency workers is subject to the general duties contained in sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA). Section 2 HSWA places a general duty on all employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees. Where a worker is not employed directly by the company carrying out work on site, section 3 HSWA imposes a duty on employers such as that company to ensure, in so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of those other than his employees, such as that worker. Responsibilities regarding the sharing of information about risks and their control between hirers, employment agencies and workers are clarified in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Additionally, in construction, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 impose duties on principal contractors to manage and co-ordinate all construction activity whether undertaken by their employees, subcontractors, the self-employed or agency workers. The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations) 1996 also imposes a duty to safeguard construction site health and safety on any person, whether they are the employer or not, who is in control of workers.

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