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Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average period of time taken to process travel cost reimbursement under the Access to Work scheme was in the last period for which figures are available; how many claims are awaiting payment; and what the (a) average and (b) total value is of outstanding claims. 
Mrs. McGuire: The majority of Access to Work travel cost claims are processed by Regional Access to Work Business Centres on the day they are received, with an average national processing time of 1.4 days.
The majority of Access to Work Business Centres do not have 'outstanding' claims. On the day information was collated 1 there were 485 claims awaiting payment, and these claims would then be processed on the day of receipt or on the following dayin an average of 1.4 days. The average value of the travel claims awaiting payment was £201.42, and the total value of those claims was £97,690.65.
Once the paperwork has been processed by the Business Centres, claims are sent to an external contractor, Liberia, for payment. Liberia has an operating agreement to pay claims within five working days. In the three months to the end of August 2005, 24,200 claims were processed, of which 99.2 per cent. were processed within the terms of the operating agreement.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) incapacity benefit and (b) severe disability allowance claimants there were in each quarter since February 2003, broken down by Jobcentre Plus district. 
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many incapacity benefit claims from the North East Milton Keynes Region were (a) registered and (b) successful in each year since 2000; 
|Financial year||Claims awarded as a % of claims received|
|July 2002-March 2003||35.15|
|April 2003-March 2004||33.76|
|April 2004-March 2005||34.50|
|April 2005-August 2005||34.49|
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of incapacity benefit claimants have been receiving the benefit for more than five years; and what percentage this was in May 1997. 
Mrs. McGuire: Incapacity benefit was introduced in April 1995; five year duration figures are not available for 1997. As at May 2005, 47.6 per cent. of claimants had been claiming for five years or more.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what mileage rate is used to reimburse incapacity benefit claimants travelling to a medical test centre; when the rate was set; when he last reviewed the rate; and what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the change in petrol prices on the adequacy of the rate. 
Mrs. McGuire: A rate of 6.5p per mile is paid towards meeting the fuel costs of customers attending a medical examination centre for an incapacity benefit medical examination when public transport is not available. This rate, which was set in 1998, is currently being reviewed.
Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people under the age of 60 years stopped receiving (a) incapacity benefit and (b) severe disablement allowance due to death in each month of the last five years. 
|Claimant off-flows due to death of claimant: at quarters shown||Number|
|Severe disability allowance|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many call centres were run by his Department and its agencies in (a) 200304, (b) 200405 and (c) 200506 to date; and how many and what proportion of calls (i) were handled by an adviser, (ii) were received but abandoned and (iii) received an engaged tone. 
|Number of call centres||153||98||(47)85|
|Number of calls handled by an adviser||29,437,890||38,481,314||18,664,666|
|Number of calls abandoned||3,927,351||6,342,046||4,071,625|
|Proportion of calls abandoned (%)||11.7||14.1||17.9|
|Number of calls receiving the engaged tone||(48)21,985,562||(49)20,009,230||(50)509.446|
|Proportion of calls receiving the engaged tone (%)||39.7||30.9||2.2|
Margaret Hodge: The Government has set an ambitious target to reduce the number of children in low-income households by at least a quarter by 200405, as a contribution towards the broader target of halving child poverty by 201011 and eradicating it by 202021.
Since 1997 the number of children in low-income households has fallen by 700,000 and we are on course to meet the target to reduce the number of children in low-income households by at least a quarter by 200405. Data to report on the target will be available in spring 2006.
We have recently published 'Opportunity for allseventh annual report' that comprehensively describes the Government's strategy and progress in tackling poverty and social exclusion. A copy is available in the Library.
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