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Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed the humanitarian and political situation in Zimbabwe with (a) the US Secretary of State, (b) the Foreign Ministers of the member states of the EU, (c) the Foreign Minister of the Republic of South Africa and (d) the Secretary-General of the UN. 
Ian Pearson: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary most recently discussed the situation in Zimbabwe with the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Zuma, at the EU South Africa Co-operation Council on 7 November, and with the United Nations Secretary General on 30 October. European Union Ministers met at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 18 July, where Zimbabwe was also discussed. Additionally, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly converses with the US Secretary of State, Dr. Rice, including, when appropriate, on Zimbabwe.
Mrs. McGuire: Carers may be entitled to the full range of social security benefits depending on their individual circumstances. Information and advice about entitlement to carer's allowance and other benefits are available from a range of outlets including social security offices, Jobcentre Plus offices, DWP and other helplines, DWP and other internet sites, local authorities, Citizens Advice and welfare benefit offices, public libraries, health clinics, doctors' surgeries and health visitors. Officials from the Department's Disability and Carers Service also discuss carer's allowance at outreach events up and down the country.
In addition, the extensive pension credit take-up campaign, mounted by the Pension Service, has helped many older carers to benefit from the Government's abolition of the upper age limit on claims to carer's allowance and provided advice on other benefits. As at 31 May 2005, some 437,000 carers were receiving carer's allowance, around 210,000 were receiving the carer premium in income support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, and about 164,000 were receiving the carer's additional amount in pension credit.
The carer's allowance claim pack is kept under review and improvements are introduced on an ongoing basis. Claims can be made in writing, by phone and on-line, and can be accepted by organisations such as Age Concern and Citizens Advice as well as DWP offices.
20 Dec 2005 : Column 2857W
The bereavement allowance is a contributory benefit payable for a maximum period of 52 weeks from the date of bereavement. It is a weekly benefit payable to qualifying widows and widowers who are aged between 45 and state pension age.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2005, Official Report, column 723W, on the Child Support Agency, in which of the last eight years the Agency's accounts have been qualified by the National Audit Office. 
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 28th November 2005 Official Report columns 7273W on the Child Support Agency in which of the last eight years have the Agency's accounts been qualified by the National Audit Office.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training staff who work for the Child Support Agency receive in understanding the law in relation to child support; and if he will make a statement. 
In 2005/6, this target was dropped as it was recognised that Agency staff had no control over whether or not a parent with care chose to close their case prior to it reaching a calculation, or whether a case is subject to a reduced benefit decision or claiming good cause.
However the Agency definition of 'cleared' has recently changed following improvements and availability of management information. Where as previously a 'clearance' only included a case which had been closed or had received a calculation, it now includes cases subject to a reduced benefit decision, claiming good cause or identified as being a change of circumstances on an existing case (as opposed to a new application). As a result, the volume of recorded clearances rose, making the proportion of clearances resulting in a maintenance calculation lower than the 60% originally envisaged in 2004/5.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people were paid compensation payments by the Child Support Agency in each year since 2001. We are unable to state how many people received payments from the Child Support Agency in accordance with the Departmental Guide to Financial Redress. This is because the Agency records the number of payments made and an individual may have received more than one payment.
The Agency does not hold sufficiently robust information prior to 1 December 2001 to give you the data over the entire period requested. I apologise for this but can give you information on payments, made since 1 December 2001 up until 10 November 2005.
|Period||Number of payments made|
|1 December 2001 to 31 March 2002||2,758|
|1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003||9,522|
|1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004||6,883|
|1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005||10,144|
|1 April 2005 to 10 November 2005||6,251|
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what proportion of the Child Support Agency's cases (a) pre-dating 3 March 2003 and (b) awaiting calculation of child maintenance under the new scheme involve a non-resident parent; 
(2) what proportion of Child Support Agency cases pre-dating 3 March 2003, and awaiting recalculation for child maintenance under the new scheme, involve a (a) non-resident and (b) resident parent in receipt of a state benefit or benefits; 
You also asked what proportion of Child Support Agency cases pre-dating 3 March 2003 and awaiting recalculation for child maintenance under the new scheme involve a (a) non-resident and (b) resident parent in receipt of a state benefit or benefits.
In respect of those old scheme cases pre-dating 3 March 2003 remaining to be transferred from the old to the new child support schemes, the old scheme caseload stood at 938,000 (of which 286,000 were operating on the new computer system) as at the end of September 2005.
Of those old scheme non-resident parents on the old computer system at the end of September 2005, 29 per cent,. of those with a full maintenance assessment were recorded as being in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or other disability benefits at the time of their last assessment by the Agency. Information relating to the receipt of other state benefits is not recorded on the old scheme old computer system.
Of those old scheme non resident parents on the new computer system at the end of September 2005, 28 per cent. of those with a full maintenance assessment were recorded as being in receipt of Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, or Income Support. Information relating to the receipt of disability benefits is not currently available due to limitations with management information systems, and information relating to the receipt of other state benefits is not recorded.
At the end of May 2005, 32 per cent. of old scheme parents with care were in receipt of Income Support Or Income Related Job Seekers Allowance. This is the latest period for which such data is available. Information for other state benefits is not held on the Child Support system, as they are not relevant to the parent with care's child support claim.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total of unpaid maintenance owed by the Child Support Agency to parents with care has been in each quarter since 199798; how much has been written off each year as uncollectable maintenance; and if he will make a statement. 
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total of unpaid maintenance owed by the Child Support Agency to parents with care has been in each quarter since 1997; how much has been written off each year as uncollectable maintenance; and if he will make a statement.
The Child Support Agency has no legislative power to write off debt, and current debt is now the cumulative total of 12 years. For accounting purposes the Agency accepts that in some cases some debt is probably un-collectable" (for example, where the non-resident parent is long-term unemployed, has gone abroad, or has died). The accounts have been adjusted accordingly: however the full amount owed remains due from the non-resident parent.
The table below summarises the cumulative total of the Child Support Agency's collectable" and probably un-collectable" debt on an annual basis since 1996/97. It is extracted from the annual debt analysis and is as reported in the Annual Report and Accounts. Information is not held on a quarterly basis:
|Amount classed as collectable(25)||Amount classed as probably un-collectable|
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