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Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what facilities are available to the Child Support Agency to verify a non-residential parent's (a) address and (b) working arrangements. 
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what facilities are available to the Child Support Agency to verify a non-residential parent's (a) address and (b) working arrangements.
The Child Support Agency is able to verify a non-resident parent's address using the Departmental Central Index and Customer Information System computer records. If necessary we can also approach the appropriate Local Authority to provide any address information held for council tax purposes. From July we anticipate that this will also include access to credit reference agency data for trace purposes and later this year we will begin to use external suppliers to help trace clients. The Agency compliance officers can visit a non-resident parent at the address where the non-resident parent is thought to be residing to confirm the address details.
In relation to verification of the Non Resident Parents working arrangements, the Agency is able to issue requests for employment details to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. This provides information from P45/46 and P14 records, National Insurance records and Tax credit records (where there is an indication that New Tax Credits are in payment). The Agency can also check with the clients employer where known.
If appropriate the Agency can use inspectors to visit business premises in pursuit of relevant information.
I hope you find this helpful.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the potential impact on the Child Support Agency of the Law Commission's proposals on the rights of cohabiting couples; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many community care grants enabling homeless prison leavers to buy a tent and sleeping bag were awarded by Jobcentre Plus in 2005; 
When a customer applies for a community care grant for an item or items and is subsequently awarded a grant no further check is made to ascertain whether the customer actually used the award to obtain the items requested. It is the responsibility of the customer to use the grant appropriately.
Exceptionally, where the Decision Maker has evidence that the award may not be used for its intended purpose, for example from information held on departmental systems or from a case worker involved in the case, then the Decision Maker has the power under Sections 138(3) and 139(5) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 to make payment to a third party who can provide, or arrange for the provision of, the items covered by the award.
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 27 June 2006]: The letter of 14 June from Guy Dodd Solicitors addressed to The Widowers Litigation Department was answered by Jobcentre Plus Bereavement Benefits on 29 June 2006.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the take-up rate of council tax benefit was in (a) Edinburgh, West constituency and (b) other Edinburgh parliamentary constituencies in each year since 1996-97; and how many pensioners (i) were entitled to and (ii) received council tax benefit in each year. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Estimates of take-up and entitlement for Council Tax Benefit are not available below national level; the latest available information is in Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take Up in 2003-04, a copy of which is in the Library.
Figures for the number of council tax benefit claimants are not available broken down by parliamentary constituency. Figures for pensioners in receipt of council tax benefit are not available prior to 2004. The available information is in the following table.
|Council tax benefit recipients aged 60 and over: Edinburgh city council|
1. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.
2. Caseloads have been rounded to the nearest 10.
3. Council tax benefit totals exclude any second adult rebate cases.
4. Aged 60 and over is defined as benefit units where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 and over. Therefore figures will contain some claimants aged under 60 where there is a partner aged over 60 years.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in November 2004 and November 2005.
The Governments guiding principles are to ensure impartiality and to help create a level playing field for all providers of financial services in order that their specific attributes can be properly harnessed.
It would be inconsistent for a Government Department to favour credit unions above other financial institutions and I therefore do not plan to provide information and membership forms for credit unions to employees of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
DWP employees are of course free to join in credit unions if they meet their relevant membership criteria. DWP will consider what levels of support would be appropriate should its employees wish to set up a credit union.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what role the Departmental Decision Making Standards Committee will play in monitoring (a) qualitative and (b) quantitative aspects of service; and if he will make a statement on the membership and frequency of meeting of this Committee. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions Decision Making Standards Committee (the Committee) monitors the standards of decision making on benefit issues in Jobcentre Plus, The Pension Service and the Disability and Carers Service. The Committee has three key objectives:
To provide independent advice on the accuracy of reports on the standard of benefit decision making
To identify, and make recommendations on, the areas where standards can be improved
To conduct additional inquiries deemed to affect decision making standards at the discretion of the chief executives.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent on entertainment by his Department in 2004-05; and how much of that sum was accounted for by (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001 from the Department of Social Security and parts of the former Department for Education and Employment including the Employment Service. Therefore it is not possible to provide information prior to that date. Such information as is available is provided as follows.
Expenditure on refreshments is taken to include working breakfasts or lunches, refreshments at meetings, as well as official hospitality and is incurred
in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government Accounting.
|Expenditure on refreshments( 1)|
|(1) Rounded to nearest £000|
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of his Department. 
Mrs. McGuire: The finance director general for the Department for Work and Pensions is John Codling. He is a chartered public finance accountant and holds a BA (Hons) degree in Economics. His career includes senior appointments in local government, a regional health authority, and he was director of finance at the Funding Agency for Schools. John Codling joined the Benefits Agency as finance director in April 1998. He was subsequently appointed the DSS finance director in May 2000 and then finance director general for DWP in December 2001 following an external competition.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his practice is regarding meeting, discussions with and taking into account the views and opinions of (a) private individuals and (b) representatives of organisations when drawing up and framing legislation to be introduced by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions always seeks a full range of views when drawing up and framing legislation. Consultation is a key part of the policy-making processboth informal and formal. The Department holds regular meetings with representatives of the principal stakeholder groups for our policy areas and with relevant experts.
Organisations and individuals can also contribute to the Departments formal consultations, which abide by the code of practice on consultation. Our regular stakeholder contacts are alerted to the fact that a formal consultation is taking place. As required by the code, the Department then gives feedback on the responses received and on how the consultation process influenced the policy decision.
Recently, there has been extensive consultation, with both individual members of the public and stakeholder organisations, about both pensions reform and welfare reform proposals, supplementing the formal consultative papers with both meetings, and online opportunities to comment on the proposals.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many websites there are within his responsibilities; and what the total cost of maintaining such websites was in the last year for which figures are available. 
|Website Name||Website Address||Contracted and quantifiable costs (£)|
| Notes: 1 Production, management and maintenance of DWP websites is carried out by the Department's own in-house E-Communications team. It is not possible to quantify internal costs for each site but contracted and quantifiable costs have been included where possible. 2 Contracted and quantifiable costs include payments to suppliers for services such as research, user testing and site builds, and payments to interim personnel. 3 Departmental sites are hosted by our IT contractors. In most cases it is not possible to separate these costs from contracted costs.|
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