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24 July 2006 : Column 884Wcontinued
Under the Data Protection Act it is inappropriate to reveal such
data which relate to a living individual who can be identified from those data.
As there is only one former ASW member receiving a payment living outside of Wales, I cannot comment on payments that may have been made to this individual.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Financial Assistance scheme has paid out to members of schemes that wound up before 6 April 2005 with insufficient funds to cover all pension entitlements; and if he will make a statement. 
James Purnell: The Financial Assistance scheme has paid a total of £707,121.93 (gross) to members of pension schemes that had completed wind up or were in the winding up process before April 6 2005.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he next plans to review the level of funding for (a) the Financial Assistance Scheme and (b) the Pension Protection Fund. 
James Purnell: Following the recent review, on 25 May we announced that we will extend eligibility for the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) to members of qualifying pension schemes who were within 15 years of their scheme's normal retirement age on 14 May 2004.
Those within seven years of their scheme's normal retirement age on 14 May 2004 will benefit from the FAS topping up their pensions to around 80 per cent. of their expected core pension. Those between seven and 15 years from their scheme's normal retirement age who can more reasonably be expected to supplement their retirement income will be considered for a top-up to around 65 per cent. of their expected pension if they are between seven and 11 years from scheme pension age, and 50 per cent. between 12 and 15 years.
We estimate that this will require funding of £2.3 billion. This is £1.9 billion more than the £400 million over 20 years that we allocated in May 2004.
The Pension Protection Fund is an independent body governed by a board. It is funded in two ways; through the assets of schemes for which it assumes responsibility and by charging an annual pension protection levy on the pension schemes eligible for entry to the PPF. The PPF is responsible for setting the levy and has estimated a levy of £575 million for 2006-07 following wide consultation with industry.
Provisions in the Pensions Act 2004 prevent the PPF from increasing its levy by more than 25 per cent. each year, up to an overall maximum ceiling. If the PPF wish to raise a levy beyond the ceiling then it must undertake consultation before asking Secretary of State to increase the levy ceiling.
Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications for Fuel Direct for (a) gas and (b) electricity by eligible consumers were approved by his Department but declined by an energy supplier in (i) each region of England, (ii) Scotland and (iii) Wales in the last full year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available.
Fuel Direct is part of the DWP Third Party Deduction (TPD) scheme. This is a system of last-resort protection available to the most vulnerable of our customers and is designed to shield a minority of people on income-related benefits from the consequences of getting into debt with essential household outgoings.
The scheme works by deducting a prescribed amount at source from someones weekly benefit, currently £2.90, and paying it direct to the creditor until the debt is cleared. In fuel and water cases an amount is also deducted to cover current consumption costs preventing
further debt accruing. The scheme is regulated under Schedule 9 of the Social Security (Claims and Payment) Regulations 1987 No. 1968. These allow for either a benefit customer or a supplier, to make an application for TPD. However, only the DWP Decision Maker can decide whether or not the application is accepted.
Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he next plans to increase funeral payments made by the Social Fund. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Funeral Payments from the social fund cover the cost of certain necessary charges in full; these include fees levied by burial authorities and crematoria. An additional sum of up to £700 is allowed for other funeral expenses, which give the person arranging the funeral the freedom to select items or services they consider appropriate.
Although there are no plans to make changes to the Funeral Payment scheme at this time the level of help is kept under review.
Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has to reduce employment levels at the Government office site at Heyhouses Lane in St. Annes; and which business areas will be affected; 
(2) what plans he has to relocate staff presently employed at the Government office site at Heyhouses Lane in St. Annes to other department locations within the Fylde area; 
(3) when he expects to announce the outcome of his Departments estates review. 
Mrs. McGuire: My Department intends to make an announcement to staff on the position of its non-London Headquarters estate by the end of July.
Change to the size and shape of the Departments estate will not automatically lead to a reduction in staff numbers. However, as set out in the 2004 Spending Review, the Department is currently managing a major efficiency programme which involves reducing staff numbers by 30,000 by March 2008. These reductions are being made in all parts of the Department and across all of the country.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints of (a) bullying and (b) sexual harassment have been investigated in the Department in each of the last three years; and how many complaints have been upheld. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions records complaints relating to bullying and sexual harassment that are formally investigated by the Department. The following table contains information about the number of complaints that were formally investigated in the years 2003 to 2005. The figures in the table relate to the Department and all its businesses.
|Number of investigations started||Number upheld||Number of investigations started||Number upheld|
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what response he has made to the safety assessment made by the Nuclear Safety Directorate of Hinkley Point B, Somerset of 3 April 2006; and what action he plans to take. 
Mrs. McGuire: None. Accountability for the safety of the civil nuclear industry rests with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Health and Safety Executives Nuclear Safety Directorate is the independent nuclear safety regulator and I am satisfied that it will respond appropriately with regard to its own safety assessments.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many under 25-year-olds are in receipt of the shared room rate of the local housing allowance in each of the pathfinder areas. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The information is in the following table.
|Under 25-year-olds in receipt of the shared room rate of the local housing allowance in each of the pathfinder areas|
|Pathfinder area||Number of recipients|
|(1) A number less than 25. Note: Numbers are rounded to the nearest 50 and as such components may not sum to total. Source: Administrative data, February 2006.|
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish the feasibility reports on identity cards following the Information Commissioner's decision reference FS50083103. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Department has appealed against the Information Commissioner's decision to an Information Tribunal and we await the outcome.
However, we have previously confirmed in replies to earlier parliamentary questions that a study on identity fraud by the Cabinet Office, published in 2002, estimated that up to £50 million per year of benefit fraud occurred as a result of identity fraud. This figure was derived from the Regional Benefit Review data collected from Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support claims. The introduction of an identity card would have a significant impact by removing the bulk of this loss.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 10 July 2006, Official Report, column 1589W, on incapacity benefit, how many claimants sought help from his Department to find work during the period October 2003 to February 2006. 
Mrs. McGuire Information on the number incapacity benefit claimants seeking help from this Department to find work during the period October 2003 to February 2006 is not available. Data are not held on the type of inquiries made by clients.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures his Department has taken to help into work those in rural areas receiving incapacity benefits; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: All services that are available to all incapacity benefits claimants are available to clients in both rural and urban areas.
We produce an internal annual Rural Proofing Report for the Countryside Agency; this includes examples of how the Department has addressed service delivery issues in rural areas. A copy of the Countryside Agency's Rural Proofing Report for 2004-05 is available in the Library.
The Department has developed more flexible ways of delivering services through working in partnership with national and local organisations. For example, Jobcentre Plus advisers provide advice and information sessions through partners premises and in some areas mobile offices have been introduced to take the service on the road. Advances in technology are also being used to develop innovative ways of delivering services to customers, particularly for those in rural areas. We are also piloting our successful Pathways to Work programme in a range of different geographical locations, including areas such as Somerset in England and Argyll and Bute in Scotland which are significantly rural in character. The programme will be offered nationally by 2008.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many incapacity benefit claimants there have been in West Suffolk in each year since 2000. 
Mrs. McGuire: The available information is in the following table:
|Incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance claimants, in the Suffolk West parliamentary constituency: each November 2000 to 2005|
|Number of claimants|
| Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 2. Claimant figures include all incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance, including incapacity benefit credits only cases. Source: DWP Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data.|
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what financial savings were achieved by Jobcentre Plus in 2005-06 against budget; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what financial savings were achieved by Jobcentre Plus in 2005-06 against budget. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The financial figures for 2005-06 are currently being audited. The unaudited position for 2005-06 shows an overall saving of £94 million against budget, as set out in the table below.
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