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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1698W—continued

Winter Fuel Payments

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are receiving winter fuel payments in each constituency in Scotland. [51309]

Mr. Timms: This winter's figures are not yet available. The table below gives the number of winter fuel payments made in each constituency in Scotland in winter 2004–05. We expect the numbers to be similar for this winter.
ConstituencyPayments made
Aberdeen Central10,775
Aberdeen North12,485
Aberdeen South15,455
Airdrie and Shotts13,455
Argyll and Bute15,950
Banff and Buchan15,430
Caithness Sunderland and Easter Ross12,015
Carrick Cumnock and Doon Valley18,360
Central Fife14,810
Clydebank and Milngavie14,185
Coatbridge and Chryston12,220
Comhairle nan Eileen Siar6,345
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth10,490
Cunninghame North16,810
Cunninghame South11,850
Dundee East15,620
Dundee West13,835
Dunfermline East13,250
Dunfermline West12,880
East Kilbride16,645
East Lothian16,620
Edinburgh Central11,255
Edinburgh East and Musselburgh15,285
Edinburgh North and Leigh11,750
Edinburgh Pentlands14,690
Edinburgh South13,990
Edinburgh West17,670
Falkirk East14,600
Falkirk West14,085
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale17,825
Glasgow Anniesland12,930
Glasgow Baillieston10,870
Glasgow Cathcart11,460
Glasgow Govan9,340
Glasgow Kelvin9,090
Glasgow Maryhill10,300
Glasgow Pollok12,190
Glasgow Rutherglen12,855
Glasgow Shettleston10,425
Glasgow Springburn12,200
Greenock and Inverclyde12,710
Hamilton North and Bellshill12,160
Hamilton South10,980
Inverness East Nairn and Lochaber18,155
Kilmarnock and Loudoun15,595
Motherwell and Wishaw13,895
North East Fife16,870
North Tayside19,715
Orkney and Shetland8,570
Paisley North12,130
Paisley South13,775
Ross Skye and Inverness West15,670
Roxburgh and Berwickshire14,885
Strathkelvin and Bearsden17,045
Tweeddale Ettrick and Lauderdale14,075
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine14,840
West Renfrewshire12,260

1. Figures rounded to the nearest five.
2. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.
Information Directorate, 100 per cent. sample.

13 Feb 2006 : Column 1699W

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will extend winter fuel payments to those people who are severely disabled. [51310]

Mr. Timms: There are no plans to extend the winter fuel payment scheme to severely disabled people under age 60. Help is already available through disability benefits and the disability premium in income-related benefits in recognition of the extra costs, including heating, which disabled people may have.
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1700W

Workless Households

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what target he has for reducing (a) the number and (b) the proportion of children in workless households; and what progress has been made against those targets. [43821]

Margaret Hodge: As a result of this Government's successful policies and stewardship of the economy there are 700,000 fewer children living in relative low income than in 1997, and 400,000 fewer children in households where no one works.

The Spending Review 2002 Public Service Agreement (SR02 PSA) target is to reduce the proportion of children in households (CIWH) with no one in work over the three years from spring 2003 to spring 2006 by 6½ per cent.

The Spending Review 2004 Public Service Agreement (SR04 PSA) target is to reduce the proportion of children living in workless households by 5 per cent. between spring 2005 and spring 2008.

At the beginning of the SR02 PSA target period (spring 2003) the proportion of children living in workless households was approximately 16.1 per cent. (1.8 million). Achieving the SR02 PSA target will require a reduction of 1 percentage point to 15.1 per cent., equivalent to a reduction in the number of CIWH of approximately 150,000 by spring 2006.

At spring 2005 the proportion of children living in workless households was 15.7 per cent. (1.75 million), representing a reduction of 0.4 percentage points from the baseline. A further reduction of 0.6 percentage points would have to be achieved in 2005–06 to meet this target.

The spring 2005 figures form the baseline for the CIWH SR04 PSA. Achieving this target will require a reduction of 0.7 percentage points to 15 per cent. by spring 2008 equivalent to a reduction in the number of CIWH of approximately 128,000 by spring 2006.
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1701W


Religious Festivals

15. David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Home Office has to celebrate religious festivals over the coming 12 months. [50404]

Paul Goggins: The Home Office has lead responsibility for race equality, diversity and cohesion. At various times throughout the year we celebrate the contribution made by all the main faiths including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh. We are still considering our programme of events for the next 12 months.

Incitement to Violence

17. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he plans to amend the law relating to incitement to violence. [50406]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Existing law already makes it an offence to incite murder or other crimes of violence. However, we are strengthening our law by creating a new offence of encouragement to terrorism. This will cover both direct and indirect encouragement and the Government believes it should also encompass glorification of terrorism.

Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses

18. Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in establishing a commissioner for victims and witnesses; and if he will make a statement. [50407]

Andy Burnham: The recruitment campaign to appoint a new Commissioner for victims and witnesses was launched on 25 January.

The Commissioner will build on our recent reforms to the criminal justice system and be an independent voice for victims and witnesses in Government, influencing policy and championing their rights.

The Commissioner's role will include keeping the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime under review, making recommendations on funding of services to victims and their families via the victims' fund, and ensuring criminal justice system partners work together more effectively to meet the needs of victims and witnesses.

We aim to announce an appointment in April.

Departmental Accounting

19. Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research he has commissioned to establish whether good accounting practices are followed in his Department. [50408]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office is in the process of commissioning a review of the factors that caused the delay to the accounts, an analysis of the current state of financial accounting environment; an assessment of the existing improvement plans; and recommendations for
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1702W
additional steps that need to be taken. This short-focussed review is due to commence in early March and initial conclusions will be reported to the Home Office Audit Committee on 27 March 2006.

25. James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the decision of the National Audit Office not to sign off his Department's accounts. [50414]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I am disappointed at the National Audit Office's (NAO) decision. A great deal of work has already been done to put right the problems which arose from the introduction of the new accounting system.

Although the NAO could not sign off the Home Office resource accounts, they did confirm that no fraudulent payments were made during 2004–05. Both our systems and financial control frameworks are being strengthened and we are recruiting additional qualified accountants to improve our financial accounting capability.

I will be appointing a firm of accountants to undertake an urgent review to establish whether any additional steps need to be taken.

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