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3 May 2006 : Column 1602W—continued

Fraud investigation

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much fraud investigators recovered for his Department in each of the last five years. [57635]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 10 March 2006]: It is not possible to separate the total amount of overpaid benefit recovered into overpayments due to fraud and those due to other reasons.

Income Support

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what reports he has received on the restoration of the full rate of income support to young people under 25 years; and if he will make a statement. [65984]

Mr. Plaskitt: Since income support was introduced in 1988, a single person aged 18 to 24 has been paid at a lower rate than single people aged 25 and over. It would be a new initiative and not a restoration to pay single customers aged 18 to 24 at the same rate as single customers aged 25 and over.

I am not aware of any reports that have been produced that give consideration to payment of the full rate of income support to single young people under the age of 25.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many jobseeker's allowance applications have taken (a) more than 12 days, (b) more than 18 days, (c) more than 24 days and (d) more than 48 days to process in the last month for which information is available; and if he will make a statement. [63681]

Margaret Hodge: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

3 May 2006 : Column 1603W

Occupational Pensions

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to publish his response to the Parliamentary Commissioner's report on the security of final salary occupational pensions. [68055]

Mr. Timms: In the oral statement made by my right hon. Friend Secretary of State on 16 March he undertook to publish a full response to the Ombudsman's report, including an explanation of the Government's estimate of the cost of implementing the Ombudsman's proposals.

We expect to publish that response shortly.

Pension Credit

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of administering the pension credit was in each of the last seven financial years; and what estimate he has made of the administration costs in 2006–07. [66151]

Mr. Timms: Information is available only for the year to March 2005. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 March 2006, Official Report, column 411W.

The Department does not estimate its future administration costs on the basis of individual benefits and allowances.

Pensioner Poverty

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners were living in poverty in (a) 1997 and (b) according to the most recent data available. [67336]

Mr. Timms: The seventh annual 'Opportunity for all' report (Cm 6673) sets out the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and reports progress against a range of indicators.

The following tables show the number and percentage of people over State pension age living in households in relative and absolute low income. These show that based on income measured after housing costs the number of pensioners in relative low income has fallen by one million between 1996–97 and 2004–05—there was a fall of half a million between 2002–03 and 2004–05, the years when pension credit came into effect.
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Relative low income, i.e. based on contemporary income thresholds

After housing costs
Before housing costs
Number (million)PercentageNumber (million)Percentage

Absolute low income, i.e. based on 1996–97 income thresholds held constant in real terms

After housing costs
Before housing costs
Number (million)PercentageNumber (million)Percentage

1. Figures are for Great Britain;
2. Results from Households Below Average Incomes publication.
3. Figures show the number and proportion of pensioners in households below 60 per cent. of median net income (after direct taxes including council tax).

Post Office Card Account

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Scotland use a Post Office card account to receive their pension, broken down by (a) local authority and (b) constituency. [62812]

Mr. Plaskitt: The following tables show the number of state pension payment accounts being paid into a Post Office card account in Scotland broken down by (a) local authority and (b) constituency.

(a) State pension accounts broken down by local authority.
Local authorityState pension accounts
Aberdeen City6,400
Argyll and Bute3,600
Scottish Borders The4,400
West Dunbartonshire3,500
Dumfries and Galloway7,200
Dundee City5,200
East Ayrshire5,700
East Dunbartonshire2,500
East Lothian3,500
East Renfrewshire2,300
Edinburgh City of11,500
Glasgow City25,100
North Ayrshire5,900
North Lanarkshire15,200
Orkney Islands1,000
Perth and Kinross4,800
Shetland Islands700
South Ayrshire5,100
South Lanarkshire11,600
West Lothian4,700
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar1,700

3 May 2006 : Column 1605W

(b) State pensions accounts broken down by parliamentary constituency.
Parliamentary constituencyState pension accounts
Aberdeen, North3,200
Aberdeen, South2,600
Airdrie and Shotts4,100
Argyll and Bute3,600
Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock4,800
Banff and Buchan4,500
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk3,700
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross2,900
Central Ayrshire3,700
Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill4,400
Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch, East3,000
Dumfries and Galloway4,600
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale3,900
Dundee, East2,800
Dundee, West3,300
Dunfermline and West Fife3,000
East Dunbartonshire1,500
East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow3,400
East Lothian3,500
East Renfrewshire2,300
Edinburgh, East2,700
Edinburgh, North and Leith1,900
Edinburgh, South1,800
Edinburgh, South-West2,400
Edinburgh, West2,600
Glasgow, Central2,900
Glasgow, East4,600
Glasgow, North2,000
Glasgow, North-East5,000
Glasgow, North-West3,700
Glasgow, South3,000
Glasgow, South-West3,900
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey3,100
Kilmarnock and Loudoun4,000
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath3,400
Lanark and Hamilton, East3,300
Linlithgow and East Falkirk3,700
Motherwell and Wishaw4,700
Na h-Eileanan an Iar1,700
North Ayrshire and Arran4,200
North-East Fife2,900
Ochil and South Perthshire3,300
Orkney and Shetland1,700
Paisley and Renfrewshire, North3,400
Paisley and Renfrewshire, South3,600
Perth and North Perthshire3,100
Ross, Skye and Lochaber2,800
Rutherglen and Hamilton, West4,400
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine2,600
West Dunbartonshire3,500

Figures are based on information available at 18 February 2006 and are rounded to the nearest 100.
Figures refer to accounts live and in payment on the specified date.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to encourage financial institutions to enable those using the Post Office card account to transfer to bank accounts with the facility to allow cash withdrawals at post office branches. [67303]

3 May 2006 : Column 1606W

Mr. Plaskitt: There are already some 25 bank and building society accounts which can be used at post offices, and we hope there could be more in the future. I would encourage the remaining big banks to respond positively to the overtures from Post Office Ltd to make their current accounts accessible at post office branches.

Post Office Ltd. itself has already introduced one new savings account, and is developing other savings and banking products which are likely to be more attractive to many of its customers than the current Post Office card account.

We want people to continue to access their cash at the post office by using a bank account there or new post office products. We are working with Post Office Ltd to develop a joint strategy to move customers from the Post Office card account and with the best interests of our joint customers in mind.

Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether employees of the Pensions Service are telephoning pensioners to persuade them to cease using their Post Office card accounts. [65882]

Mr. Plaskitt: No, employees of the Pension Service are not telephoning pensioners to dissuade them from using their Post Office card accounts.

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