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Welfare Benefits

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which welfare benefits are administered by his Department; and what the level of overpayment of each has been in the last five years. [106349]

Mr. Plaskitt: The main benefits administered by this Department are listed as follows:

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Some of the aforementioned benefits have been replaced and are no longer available to new claimants.

The following table shows the level of overpayment in the main benefits. Some linked benefits have been combined for the purposes of the table.

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The table represents only those overpayments that have been identified and recorded on departmental systems. During this period, the majority of overpayments that arose due to official error, were not formally calculated and entered onto systems. As part of an agreement with HMT, their value was estimated and recorded separately.

Level of overpayments identified and entered on systems, as a percentage of the relevant expenditure for each benefit
Benefit 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06

Attendance allowance






Disability living allowance






Invalidity and incapacity benefits






Income support






Industrial injuries benefits






Invalid care and carers allowances






Jobseekers allowance






Maternity allowance






Pension credit(1)



Retirement/state pension






Severe disablement allowance






Widows and bereavement benefits






(1) Pension credit was introduced in October 2003.
Overpayment data for pension credit in 2003-04 included in income support data.

Welfare Strategy

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what areas he expects the long-term review of the Government’s welfare to work strategy to consider; [116402]

(2) when the long-term review of the Government’s welfare to work strategy is planned (a) to commence and (b) to conclude. [116403]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Department is undertaking a wide-ranging review of our welfare to work strategy, to consider how we can best tackle economic inactivity and promote social mobility over the coming decade. This review is considering all aspects of welfare to work policy and delivery, and will form part of the wider policy review process the Prime Minister initiated in the autumn.

David Freud is contributing to this process and is currently looking at experience from this country and from elsewhere. We expect him to let us have his conclusions in the next few months.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what requirements he has placed on City Strategy Consortia for engagement with private and voluntary sector providers of welfare to work services. [116405]

Mr. Jim Murphy: City consortia will be partnerships of key local agencies involved in tackling worklessness that come together behind shared objectives and greater responsibility for local delivery to increase the numbers taking up work.

Guidance issued to support pathfinder areas in developing their business plans requires them to set out how the consortium will engage the voluntary and community sector, how they will take account of their views in developing programme design and delivery, and what plans they have to build the capacity of voluntary and community sector organisations to support the consortium in achieving its aims.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions who the members are of the City Strategy Project Board. [116406]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The City Strategy Project Board is an official level group chaired by the Department for Work and Pensions and further made up of representatives from Jobcentre Plus, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department of Trade and Industry, HM Treasury, the Department for Education and Skills, the Learning and Skills Council, the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government, the Greater London Authority, the Government Office and Regional Development Agency networks, the National Employment Panel and the Local Government Association.

Winter Fuel Payments

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will bring forward proposals to reform the procedures for allocating winter fuel allowance to British nationals overseas on the basis of the winter temperatures in each area. [116499]

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James Purnell: European Community law provides that, in certain circumstances, some benefits acquired in one member state must be paid to people who live outside that state but within the European economic area. The Government agreed with the European Commission that winter fuel payments would be made to eligible former UK residents living elsewhere in the European economic area or Switzerland only if they qualified for a winter fuel payment before leaving the UK. We must treat all those states equally and may not therefore make payments in countries within the European economic area based on winter temperatures.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will extend winter fuel payments to people with disabilities aged under 60 with a medically assessed need to keep their homes at a steady high temperature. [115541]

James Purnell: Help is already available through disability benefits and the disability premium in income-related benefits in recognition of the extra costs, including heating, which disabled people may have. We have no plans to extend the payments to disabled people aged under 60.



Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been allocated to (a) research in audiology and (b) new audiology equipment in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) each of the next two financial years. [114540]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the UK Government support medical and clinical research.

Total MRC expenditure on hearing research in 2004-05, the latest year for which figures are available, was £4.8 million.

The Department funds research to support policy and to provide the evidence needed to underpin quality improvement and service development in the national health service. The Department’s national research programmes will spend some £302,000 in 2006-07 on projects related to audiology.

Over 75 per cent. of the Department’s total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by NHS organisations. Details of individual projects, including a significant number concerned with audiology, are available on the national research register at:

It is for local providers to plan and commission appropriate services for their local population. This includes how much is allocated for new audiology equipment in each financial year.

In 2006-07, the Department allocated an NHS central revenue budget of £5.5 billion across all the strategic health authorities (SHAs). It is the responsibility of SHAs to reach agreement with their local NHS trusts and primary care trusts over the allocation of these resources, including those for audiology, to best meet local need.

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In addition capital allocations for audiology services in 2006-07 amounted to £26 million.

The NHS operating framework, published in December 2006 confirmed that there would be another SHA bundle of central budgets for 2007-08 with a proposed value of £6,945.9 million, to include audiology. The 2007-08 bundle will be supplemented by a service level agreement between the Department and the SHAs. This agreement will include details of the services to be provided from the bundle, and governance and accountability arrangements.


Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many deliveries as a proportion of total births required assistance from a consultant in Hartlepool constituency in each of the last 10 years; [111483]

(2) how many births as a proportion of total births were categorised as (a) low risk, (b) medium risk and (c) high risk in Hartlepool constituency in each of the last 10 years. [111484]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This information is not collected centrally.

Brent Teaching Primary Care Trust

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the long-term impact of changes in Brent Teaching Primary Care Trust service provision on health and social care services in Brent; and if she will make a statement. [117234]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: It is Brent Teaching primary care trust's (PCT) responsibility to deliver a responsive health service and improve the health of local people. This means that the PCT will often have to make difficult decisions about how their resources are prioritised and spent.

I understand that Brent Teaching PCT has proposals as part of a turnaround plan to make savings across the range of its services amounting to £14 million in this financial year and £29 million next year. The plan is to enable it to fulfil its statutory obligation to break even by March 2008.

Furthermore, I understand that Brent Teaching PCT is reviewing all the 1,150 patients it fully funds who are receiving care in the community and in nursing homes to ascertain their level of health needs, and that Brent council has been invited to participate in these reviews as well as in the decision making process.

Since 2003, Brent Teaching PCT has received the following allocations which have increased on a year-by-year basis:

£ million











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NHS London is conducting a review of health care across London, with the aim of producing a framework for how the national health service will meet London's health needs over the next five to 10 years. An initial document, setting out draft proposals and models of service for patients, will be published in March 2007. A process of wide-ranging public engagement and discussion will produce a final health strategy for London which will be published in summer 2007.

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