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Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applicants from Zimbabwe for indefinite leave to remain in the UK under the ancestral visa route have (a) been refused because their application was proved to be fraudulent and (b) had their application delayed because of an inquiry into fraud in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Byrne: In the last 12 months to 30 April 2006, 12 applicants from Zimbabwe for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the UK ancestral visa route have been refused. Detailed data which give the reason for the refusals are not held. Some 87 ILR applicants from Zimbabwe have had their application delayed while inquiries proceed. Of these, 77 remain under consideration while documents are checked and other inquiries made.
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the budget of the access to work scheme for his Department to meet its target of getting one million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years. 
Mrs. McGuire: Access to work spend has increased from £14.6 million in 1997-98 to £59.5 million in 2004-05 and I am pleased that this programme is now helping some 32,000 disabled people to move into or retain jobs. However, the vast majority of the 2.6 million disabled people who are working do not need the kind of support available from access to work.
We will continue to review the balance between the different types of support and to ensure that the Pathways to Work Pilots continue to achieve impressive results by using a range of provision, including Access to work, to meet individual needs.
Mr. Plaskitt: As part of the Governments strategy to increase access to Affordable Credit for people on low income, we intend to introduce arrangements which, under certain circumstances, will enable lenders to apply for deductions from benefits to repay loans where re-payment arrangements have broken down. We intend to bring forward legislation in the autumn to enable the scheme to come into effect by the end of 2006.
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will change the attendance
allowance qualifying period from six months to three months; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: Attendance allowance provides a contribution towards the extra costs faced by severely disabled people aged 65 or over as a result of long-term disability. The purpose of the six-month qualifying period is to establish that disability and the care needs arising from it are long-term, rather than the result of short-term or transient conditions, and we have no plans to change it. However, the decision maker will always look at how long care has been required when a disabled person claims the allowance and will consider whether some or all of the qualifying period has already been completed.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Devon and (b) Torbay claimed (i) income support, (ii) incapacity benefit and (iii) jobseekers allowance for the most recent month for which figures are available. 
|Income support, incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and jobseekers allowance claimants in Devon and Torbay; November 2005|
|Devon||Torbay parliamentary constituency|
1. Income support and incapacity benefit severe disablement allowance figures are rounded to the nearest 10. Jobseekers allowance figures are un-rounded.
2. Incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance claimant figures include incapacity benefit credits only cases.
3. Jobseekers allowance figures are not seasonally adjusted.
Income Support, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance-DWP Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study, 100 per cent. data; Jobseekers Allowance-Count of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus computer systems (including clerically held cases).
Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the period between claimants first contact and first issue of payment between April 2005 and March 2006. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking for an estimate of the period between claimants first contact and the issue of payment between April 2005 and March 2006. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as chief executive of jobcentre plus.
The specific information you have requested is not available. The jobcentre plus measure of the time taken to process a claim for jobseekers allowance, income support and incapacity benefit is the actual average clearance time. The standard required for 2005-06 is 12 working days for jobseekers allowance and income support, and 19 days for incapacity benefit.
The actual average clearance time for the three benefits is measured in different ways. Jobseekers allowance is measured from the date of first contact. The clearance time start date for incapacity benefit is the date that the properly completed claim is received at any location within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and for income support it is the date on which a claim form containing all the evidence required is received. A case is treated as cleared when a decision on the persons entitlement to benefit is made or the claim is referred for payment.
The following table shows the cumulative actual average clearance times for income support, jobseekers allowance and incapacity benefit for the period April 2005 to March 2006. We have action plans in place to address clearance times where they do not meet the standard.
|Actual average clearance times|
Mr. Plaskitt: As part of the Governments strategy for reducing inspection costs and burdens, the Benefit Fraud Inspectorates inspection remit, in relation to housing benefit and council tax benefit in England, will merge with the Audit Commissions in April 2008.
The Department for Work and Pensions, in conjunction with the devolved Administrations, is looking at the feasibility of the Benefit Fraud Inspectorates inspection work in Scotland and Wales being undertaken by the relevant audit bodies there from April 2008.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to simplify the benefits system; what recent representations he has received on simplifying the system; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government set out their long-term vision of a simpler, single system of benefits for people of working age in the Green Paper A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work. Copies are available in the Library.
Mrs. McGuire: Some guidance on gates and barriers already exists within Health and Safety Executive publications, in particular Workplace Transport Safety, An employers guide (HSG136). This guidance applies to barriers in car parks and workplaces generally. There is also a British Standard relating to car park barriers.
Independent of the concerns regarding car park barriers, a research project has been proposed on the operation and design of retail car parks and delivery areas. The aim of this project, which is subject to
approval, is to produce guidance on car park safety including barriers where relevant.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what proportion of benefit claims are operated by the full customer management system broken down by regional centres. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as chief executive of jobcentre plus.
We currently have 23 contact centre sites located throughout the UK that provide the first contact service for customers wishing to make new claims to working age benefits. The contact centre sites do not necessarily respond to customer calls made from the geographical location in which they are sited, and therefore we cannot provide information broken down to regional level.
Whilst I am unable to provide the proportion of benefit claims made using the customer management system (CMS), I can confirm that there are currently 16 sites operating full CMS process and 7 sites that are operating some adjusted processes to respond to customer calls.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the international work of his Department, with particular reference to (a) co-ordination of information and labour market policies and (b) mutual recognition and administrative simplification in relation to benefits. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Department for Work and Pensions works closely with a large number of countries on labour market issues, for example, other EU member states, in particular the new member states to help them and to learn from them. DWP Ministers and Officials participate in meetings of a wide variety of international institutions such as the Council of Europe, EU, UN, ILO and other international organisations such as the OECD to develop best practice and share information. This work is underpinned by national contributions to international labour market statistics. DWP promotes
the UK reform agenda through the ministerial EU Employment and Social Policy Council and the EU Employment Committee and Social Protection Committee.
Within the EU, legislation coordinates member states' social security schemes so that people who move from one state to another are not adversely affected by the application of different national legislations. For example, contributions paid in one member state can, in some cases, count towards satisfying conditions for another state's benefit. The Council of Ministers has agreed a modernised revision of the relevant regulation and work has begun on revising the provisions for administering that regulation. This will include development of electronic exchanges of information between member states to replace the current paper-based system.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 11 May 2006, Official Report, columns 469-70W, on departmental relocation, how many of these sites his Department (a) is paying rent on, (b) still owns and (c) has sold on. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department does not own or rent any of these sites. They were transferred, for value, to Land Securities Trillium under a PFI deal known as the PRIME contract. Under the terms of the PRIME contract, the Department receives fully serviced accommodation in return for the payment of a unitary charge. This charge ceases once we have vacated the accommodation.
|Grade||Percentage male||Percentage female||Percentage declared disabled|
1. Figures are as at 31 December 2005
2. Figures given are for the Department for Work and Pensions excluding the Health and Safety Executive.
3. Figures are rounded to the nearest 0.01 per cent.
4. The calculation of percentages is based on the number of people who have declared their disability. There is no requirement for DWP staff to declare their disability.
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