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23 Jan 2007 : Column 1722W—continued

Child Support Agency

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimates were made for the Henshaw Review of the proportion of parents with care whose cases are with the Child Support Agency who would (a) transfer to the new body, (b) establish private arrangements and (c) have no arrangements. [103268]

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Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 27 November 2006]: As a result of the reforms which Sir David Henshaw put forward he estimated that the number of children receiving maintenance would increase from 1.1 million to 1.7 million, with an increasing proportion of parents making private arrangements. In steady state Sir David Henshaw estimated the long run administrative savings to be in the region of £200 million, based on a caseload of between 0.8 million and 1.1 million in the new organisation. In making these estimates Sir David identified in his report the need to do further research to support the transition of cases and that there is an element of unpredictability about such transitional flows.

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Child Support Agency cases were (a) outstanding and (b) unprocessed in (i) Eastbourne constituency and (ii) East Sussex in each year since 1997. [110391]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 23 January 2007:

Number of uncleared applications in the parliamentary constituency of Eastbourne from September 2003 to September 2006 (both new and old scheme applications on the new computer system only)
Eastbourne Number

September 2003


September 2004


September 2005


September 2006


Number of uncleared applications in East Sussex from September 2003 to September 2006 (both new and old scheme applications on the new computer system only)
East Sussex Number

September 2003


September 2004


September 2005


September 2006


Note s:
1. According to the Office for National Statistics definition, East Sussex comprises 5 local authority areas: Eastbourne, Rother, Hastings, Lewes and Wealdon.
2. Volumes are rounded to the nearest ten.

Financial Assistance Scheme

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many calls were received by the financial assistance scheme operational unit in each quarter of the last three years; and how many calls were answered in each month since April 2006. [112963]

James Purnell: The financial assistance scheme operational unit (FASOU) opened in September 2005 and a breakdown of how many calls have been received each quarter is as follows:

Quarter end Number of calls received

















Since April 2006, 2,770 calls have been received and 2,755 were answered. Of these, the 15 not answered were abandoned by the caller in less than two seconds. As requested, the monthly breakdown is as follows:

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2006 Number of calls answered Total for each quarter

























Ministerial Blog

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform's blog has cost to administer in each month since its inception; what the budget for the blog is for 2007-08; and how many unique visitors to the blog there have been since May. [102066]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Welfare Reform and Child Poverty blog was launched on the DWP internet site on 16 October 2006.

Costs to develop and administer the blog were met from existing resources, and current staffing levels.

On-going maintenance equates to half the time of one member of staff. From October to date this has cost £1,487 per month.

At present no funding decisions have been made about the financial year 2007-08.

Since it was launched it has attracted 1,987 unique visitors(1) resulting in 4,731 visits(2)


Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when court procedures require his Department to submit its defence papers in respect of the judicial review launched by members of the Pension Action Group; and when he expects to submit those papers. [104797]

James Purnell: The deadline for lodging our grounds for resisting the claim was 35 days from 18 October, the date when the court gave permission for the judicial review, subject to any extension agreed between the parties or by the court. We applied to the court for an extension of the time in this case and this was granted. We sent our grounds to the court on Monday 4 December.

Pensions Adviser

Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether Ms Ros Altmann has been retained as a pensions adviser to the Government; [108830]

(2) To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer question 108830, on Ros Altmann, tabled by the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen on 7 December 2006. [110882]

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James Purnell: Ms Altmann provided advice to the independent review undertaken by Mr. Paul Myners (Institutional investment in the UK; a review) published on 6 March 2001.

Provider-led Pathways

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the contract for providers in provider-led pathways to work areas (a) will be cash-limited and (b) includes a ceiling on the number of claimants that each provider will be able to support. [116449]

Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 18 January 2007]: Where providers perform better than outlined in their contract, we would look to fund additional outcome payments using residual money from any under-performing providers.

While we will expect providers to deliver work focused interviews for all those customers referred to us, providers are able to offer the pathways to work service to customers directly. It is therefore for the provider to determine how they focus their resource and how many customers they support in order to achieve the job outcome targets that will have been agreed in the contract.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his latest estimate is of the monetary value of fraud and error in each of the last five years in (a) income support, (b) incapacity benefit, (c) disability living allowance, (d) jobseeker's allowance, (e) housing benefit, (f) pension credit, (g) council tax benefit, (h) basic state pension, (i) carer's allowance and (j) attendance allowance; and if he will make a statement; [102191]

(2) what his estimate is of the (a) rate and (b) cost of fraud and error for each benefit administered by his Department in each year since 1996-97; and if he will make a statement; [102220]

(3) what his estimate is of the fraud and error rate in (a) percentage and (b) cash terms in (i) attendance allowance, (ii) carer's allowance, (iii) basic state pension, (iv) bereavement benefit, (v) industrial injuries benefit, (vi) maternity allowance, (vii) severe disablement allowance, (viii) social fund, (ix) widow's benefit and (x) winter fuel payments in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; [102221]

(4) what estimate he has made of the amount of overpayments made as a result of official error for each social security benefit paid by his Department in each of the last seven years; and if he will make a statement. [101789]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Government are committed to reducing fraud and error across the benefits system.

Our fraud strategy is set out in "Reducing fraud in the benefits system: Achievements and ambitions". We will publish our error reduction strategy in the near future.

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Our strategies are working. For example, national statistics estimate that fraud and error loss in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance are now at their lowest ever—by September 2005, the percentage of expenditure overpaid had reduced by 48 per cent. compared to the 1998 baseline.

Estimates for individual benefits, where fraud and error has been measured have been placed in the Library.

Estimates are not available for Attendance Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefit, Maternity Allowance, the Social Fund and Winter Fuel Payments. In calculating the estimate of overpayments across the whole benefit system for the Department's resource account it is assumed that across these benefits 2.7 per cent. of expenditure is overpaid.

Communities and Local Government

Religious Extremism

23. Kitty Ussher: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to promote interfaith forums as a means of tackling religious extremism. [117394]

Mr. Woolas: My Department's overall aim in working with and across faith communities is to increase community cohesion and prevent and reduce extremism from and towards these communities. Inter- faith initiatives play a key role in tackling and isolating violent extremist activity. My Department supports the Interfaith Network which represents the collective voice of all main faith communities and helps regional and local bodies to contribute to community cohesion. In addition, £5 million has been set aside for inter-faith programmes and capacity building within faith communities during 2007. The Local Government White Paper reforms will further engage faith communities in promoting cohesion through their effective representation in local public partnerships.

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