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14 Nov 2005 : Column 1003W—continued

WORK AND PENSIONS

Access to Work Scheme

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. [15969]

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 day—in 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.


 
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Benefits

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. [24080]

Mrs. McGuire: The information has been placed in the Library.

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; [17018]

(2) what percentage of incapacity benefit claims were successful in each of the last three years. [17019]

Mrs. McGuire: Information is not available at constituency level. The available information is in the table.
Incapacity benefit claims awarded as a percentage of those received: Great Britain

Financial yearClaims awarded as a % of claims received
July 2002-March 200335.15
April 2003-March 200433.76
April 2004-March 200534.50
April 2005-August 200534.49




Notes:
1. Information is not available prior to July 2002.
2. The most recent available information is August 2005.
3. Claims awarded" are those claims where an actual amount of benefit was awarded.
Source:
Central Data Unit for figures up to and including July 2004 and Management Information Systems Programme 04 (MISP04) from August 2004 to August 2005.




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. [22191]

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. [24421]

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. [24470]


 
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Mrs. McGuire: The figures are not available for each month. The quarterly information is in the table.
Claimant off-flows due to death of claimant: at quarters shownNumber
Incapacity benefit
May 20014,600
August 20014,300
November 20014,600
February 20024,400
May 20023,900
August 20024,300
November 20024,700
February 20034,600
May 20034,000
August 20034,100
November 20034,400
February 20044,900
May 20044,000
August 20044,300
November 20044,000
February 20055,000
May 20054,600
Severe disability allowance
May 2001900
August 2001700
November 2001800
February 2002900
May 2002800
August 2002(46)400
November 2002800
February 2003700
May 2003500
August 2003500
November 2003800
February 2004600
May 2004600
August 2004700
November 2004500
February 2005500
May 2005700


(46) Figures are subject to a high degree of sampling error and should only be used as a guide.
Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
2. Incapacity benefit figures include incapacity benefit credits-only cases.
3. Figures for the latest quarter do not include any late notifications and are subject to major changes in future quarters.
4. Earlier quarters have been updated to include late notifications.
Source:
DWP Information Directorate, 5 per cent. samples.




Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are claiming incapacity benefit in Morecambe and Lunesdale. [24557]

Mrs. McGuire: As at May 2005, there were 5,300 people claiming incapacity benefit or severe disability allowance in the Morecambe and Lunesdale parliamentary constituency.

Call Centres

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) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05 and (c) 2005–06 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. [23293]

Mrs. McGuire: The information requested is in the following table:
 
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2003–042004–052005–06
Number of call centres15398(47)85
Number of calls handled by an adviser29,437,89038,481,31418,664,666
Number of calls abandoned3,927,3516,342,0464,071,625
Proportion of calls abandoned (%)11.714.117.9
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 (%)39.730.92.2


(47) The number of centres is reducing rapidly as small local telephony teams, particularly in Jobcentre Plus, are being replaced by larger call and contact centres.
(48) This excludes 19,978,016 calls to the DLA/AA helpline that received the engaged tone during 2003–04.
(49) This excludes 18,526,578 calls to the DLA/AA helpline that received the engaged tone during 2004–05.
(50) The 22,403 calls to the DLA/AA helpline that have received the engaged tone during 2005–06.


Child Poverty

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on progress towards meeting the Government's 2005 child poverty targets. [21960]

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 2004–05, as a contribution towards the broader target of halving child poverty by 2010–11 and eradicating it by 2020–21.

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 2004–05. Data to report on the target will be available in spring 2006.

We have recently published 'Opportunity for all—seventh 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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