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31 Jan 2006 : Column 438W—continued

Financial Assistance Scheme

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people had received payments under the Financial Assistance Scheme by 31 December 2005. [46884]

Mr. Timms: The first payments to 13 members of the ASW (Cardiff) pension scheme were in individuals' bank accounts by Wednesday 21 December 2005.

Further payments are being made to other scheme members of qualifying schemes once trustees have provided the necessary member information.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that those who are eligible receive assistance from the Financial Assistance Scheme. [47487]

Mr. Timms: During 2004 the Department conducted two data collection exercises about FAS with the pensions industry. Prior to the start of the notification period on 1 September 2005, we made contact with every pension scheme which had taken part in these exercises, providing an application form and explanatory leaflet. At the same time, we wrote to all known firms of Pension administrators, advising them of the scheme.

At the beginning of January, we contacted by telephone, all scheme trustees who had not returned the FAS application form, reminding them that the notification period ends on 28 February. We hope to receive completed application forms from all schemes that appear potentially eligible for the FAS by the close of the notification period.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what independent research has been commissioned to assess the (a) outcomes and (b) cost-effectiveness of services provided by (i) Jobcentre Plus and (ii) voluntary and private sector organisations; and what further research is planned. [45778]

Margaret Hodge: Jobcentre Plus' main programmes and interventions are subject to a major programme of ongoing evaluation, analysis and monitoring by the Department, supported by a programme of commissioned independent research. Commissioned evaluations of outcomes and effectiveness are published and are publicly available. They can also be found on the DWP website and include all of the new deals and pilot initiatives such as Pathways to Work.

The Department also evaluates the outcomes and effectiveness of services provided by the private and voluntary sector, the most significant of which is the Employment Zones evaluation. Independent research on customer outcomes include the working age research and analysis publication No. 176 (2003) which
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compared the job outcomes for people on New Deal 25 plus, before it was re-engineered, with those on the Employment Zone provision.

Major evaluations also include a full cost benefit analysis and are carried out by DWP economists or by independent experts or a combination of both. Comparing the cost-effectiveness of Jobcentre Plus and private and voluntary sector services is difficult because Jobcentre Plus works in partnership with the private and voluntary sector. The current Employment Zones evaluation, however, will include a cost-benefit assessment. This will be carried out in-house, with administrative data analysis assessing the overall effectiveness of Employment Zones using valid Jobcentre Plus comparisons. This will be available in the autumn of 2006.
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The Department will also commission a short feasibility study to explore the possibility of assessing the overall impact of Jobcentre Plus as well as some of its larger labour market programmes on a range of macroeconomic variables. Results from the feasibility study should be available in the latter half of 2006.

Copies of the DWP Research Programmes for 2004–05 and 2005–06 are available on the DWP research website

Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the main reasons for claimants leaving jobseeker's allowance; and how many people there were in each category of departure in each year since 1997. [44521]

Mr. Plaskitt: The available information is in the table.
Claimants leaving jobseeker's allowance by recorded reason, Great Britain: 1997–98 to 2004–05

March to February
Total JSA Terminations3,473.33,088.43,120.62,903.32,661.32,624.02,536.02,337.0
Move to another benefit in 90 days(41)472.2386.2388.4378.4338.3328.5266.8243.3
Return to JSA in 90 days911.2904.8948.6878.3802.9796.1752.3686.9
Reach Retirement age/recorded as reaching retirement age14.
Recorded as claiming another benefit78.324.321.916.411.614.620.019.8
Recorded as entering work(42)1,145.11,094.31,071.8796.2587.3668.7858.3751.9
Recorded as entering New Deal4.
Recorded as failed to attend395.0384.5391.1301.2210.9258.8341.4337.5
Recorded as entering training44.957.163.540.724.
Recorded as entering full time education146.225.922.814.811.514.218.615.7
Recorded as gone abroad31.936.835.326.419.224.433.027.7
Other reason recorded22.718.220.721.416.
Unknown Reason206.8148.7146.4422.2633.2460.7164.9168.5

(41) Moving to another benefit includes those claimants starting to claim income support (IS)/pension credit (PC), incapacity benefit (IB), working families tax credit (WFTC), and disabled persons tax credit (DPTC) within 90 days of the jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claim ending. It is possible that claimants may not move directly from JSA to another benefit, e.g. they may cease claiming JSA, find work and then claim IB within the given 90 day period.
(42) It is known that the number recorded as returning to work underestimates the true situation. It is not possible to determine the number that moved to employment, however the Destinations of Benefit Leavers 2004" report showed that 62 per cent. of IS, JSA and IB leavers entered employment of 16 hours or more a week.
1. Figures are expressed in thousands and rounded to the nearest hundred. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
2. Those reasons shown as Recorded as" are what are completed on the JSA computer system following termination of the JSA claim. It is known that this information is not reliable and therefore figures should be used as a guide only.
3. Destinations of terminated JSA claims are assigned in the priority order shown above.
4. Number of terminations in the last year will increase following receipt of late notifications.
DWP Information Directorate, 5 per cent. samples (terminations dataset).

Longitudinal Data Matching

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what purposes longitudinal data matching is being used in his Department; and what assessment he has made of potential inaccuracies from using this method in benefit fraud cases. [43631]

Mr. Plaskitt: The purposes to which longitudinal data matching are used within the Department for Work and Pensions are published on the Departmental website and are held in the Library. Longitudinal data held within the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study are used to perform a range of statistical and research analyses, and some limited operational purposes, to give the Department further opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of its businesses.

We do not use longitudinal data matching when investigating individual benefit fraud cases. Therefore we have made no assessment of potential inaccuracies from using such a method.

The majority of operational data matching for identifying fraud is still being undertaken on the Department's Generalised Matching Service; however longitudinal data are being used to inform longer term strategies for dealing with Fraud and Error. The combining of these two areas of work will allow the Department to assess and identify possible new areas of risk or inaccuracy not previously identifiable from simple data matching of current information.

New Deal/Workstep

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to extend (a) New Deal for Disabled People and (b) Workstep to help people back into work; and if he will make a statement. [46018]

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Margaret Hodge: Contracts for the New Deal for Disabled People and WORKSTEP are now being extended, where necessary, to 31 March 2007. We are currently considering the future of this provision alongside the range of disability employment programmes to ensure they reflect current needs and support our proposals in the Welfare Reform Green Paper.

We will consult our key stakeholders later in the year.

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