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James Duddridge: To ask the Prime Minister how many officials from his Department are based in (a) Israel and (b) the Occupied Palestinian Territories on a (i) temporary and (ii) permanent basis; and what the length of service in each location is of each official. 
James Duddridge: To ask the Prime Minister what visits he and officials from No. 10 Downing Street have made to (a) Israel and (b) the Occupied Palestinian Territories in each of the last 12 months; and if he will list the officials involved in each case. 
The Prime Minister: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. Copies of these lists are available in the Library of the House. Information on the number of officials accompanying Ministers on overseas visits is included in the list.
All Ministers' travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 10 of the Ministerial Code, and the accompanying guidance document, Travel by Ministers.
James Duddridge: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he and officials from No. 10 Downing Street have had with Ministers and officials from the Department for International Development regarding development assistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and if he will list the officials involved in each case. 
The Prime Minister: My Office and the Department for International Development have a continuous dialogue on development assistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the evidential basis was for the statement by the Minister for Pensions Reform on7 December 2006, Official Report, column 453, that there were 1 million fewer people on benefits. 
James Purnell: We estimate that the total number of people on out of work benefits has fallen by around 900,000 since 1997. This refers to changes in the number of people on jobseekers allowance, lone parent benefits, incapacity benefits and other income-related out of work benefits. Figures are drawn from publicly available data from the Office for National Statistics, the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study and the Department for Work and Pensions 5 per cent. sample benefits data.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the total amount spent on programmes and initiatives to reduce (a) benefit fraud and (b) benefit error in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioner households in Tamworth constituency are receiving (a) pension credit and (b) pensions saving credit; and what the (i) highest and (ii) average amount awarded is. 
James Purnell: The information requested is in the following tables. The pension credit is made up of two elements, guarantee credit and savings credit. An individual can receive either one or both guarantee credit and savings credit.
|Table 1: The number of households in receipt of pension credit by type in Tamworth constituency and the average weekly payment:May 2006|
|Type of pension credit||Household recipients||Average weekly payments (£)|
1. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest ten. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
2. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the 2005 postcode directory.
3. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.
4. Average weekly payments are shown as pound per week and are rounded to the nearest penny.
DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data.
|Table 2: The highest award amounts for pension credit in Tamworth: May 2006|
|Type of pension credit||Highest awards (£)|
DWP Information Directorate 5 per cent. sample data.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what total amount of additional unpaid maintenance has been recovered to date as a result of the Child Support Agencys operational improvement plan; and if he will make a statement. 
In reply to your Parliamentary question 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 total amount of additional unpaid maintenance has been recovered to date as a result of the Child Support Agencys Operational Improvement plan; and if he will make a statement.
The Operational Improvement Plan announced in Parliament on 9(th) February 2006 and launched in April 2006 aims over the next three years to improve our service to clients, increase the amount of money we collect, achieve greater compliance from non-resident parents and as a result achieve a reduction in child poverty and a better standard of living for many more children.
The initial phase of the Operational Improvement Plan has focussed on the organisational and operational restructuring of the Agency, and the training of our people. Once this phase is complete we can expect to see more clearly the benefits of the Plan. Even now early results show improvements in several key areas; at the end of September 2006 compared with a year ago:
67,000 more children benefited from maintenance arrangements
Uncleared applications were down by 12 per cent and stood at their lowest since comparable records began in May 1999
An average of £71.3 million every month is being collected or arranged through Maintenance Direct (up from £67.5 million each month in 2005/06)
The Agency cleared more applications: 55 per cent within twelve weeks (up from 44 per cent and meeting target level) and 73 per cent within six months (up from 60 per cent)
59 per cent of new scheme cases with a liability made a payment or arranged Maintenance Direct (up from 53 per cent)
The Agency answered 97 per cent of queued calls (up from91 per cent in March 2006)
The Operational Improvement Plan included plans to contract out some of the outstanding debt owed to parents with care, to private debt collection agencies. By the end of October 2006 over £180,000 had been collected by these agencies. A letter sent by the Agency to inform clients that their debt is to be transferred to the external debt collection agencies had also resulted in an additional £250,000 collected by the Agency by the end of October 2006.
During the year ending March 2006 a total amount of£13.5 million was collected through specific legal enforcement work, an average monthly amount of £1.1 million. This has increased during the first half of the reporting year 2006/2007 during which the Agency has collected £8.6 million, a monthly average of £1.4 million.
The Agency continues to improve the collection of child support maintenance arrears and during the year ending March 2006 a total amount of £80.8 million was collected, an average monthly amount of £6.7 million. This has increased to an average monthly amount of £7.1 million during the first half of the reporting year 2006/2007.
I hope this information is helpful.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to answer telephone calls to the Child Support Agency helpline has been for new scheme cases in each month since 1 January 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
In reply to your recent parliamentary Question 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 the average time taken to answer telephone calls to the Child Support Agency helpline has been for new scheme cases in each month since 1 January 2003; and if he will make a statement.
The attached table shows the average time taken to answer telephone calls received in respect of both new and old scheme cases on the new computer system (CS2). It is not possible to disaggregate this data by scheme, and monthly information is only available from July 2003 onwards.
The speed of answering calls has improved steadily since 2004. On average, the Agency has answered telephone calls within one minute on both new and old computer systems every month since March 2006, as committed to in the Agency's published service standard. However, in September 2006, there was a seasonal dip in performance caused by high call volumes. To reduce the impact of such seasonal variations in future, the Agency is investigating ways of being able to deploy its people at times of high call activity.
Further information on the Agency's telephony performance is contained in table 16 of the September 2006 Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library, or on the internet via the following link:
I hope you find this answer helpful.
|Average time to answer calls to the Child Support Agency on the new computer system (CS2)|
|Month||Average time to answer calls (hours: minutes: seconds)|
| Note: 1. Data is presented for calls made regarding cases on the new computer system (CS2). It is not possible to separate this data into calls about new and old scheme cases. 2. The time to answer calls is measure from the point at which calls become available for staff to answer, which occurs after the caller has entered their details via the telephone key pad.|
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