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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) national average rate of absence from work, (b) public sector average rate of absence from work through sickness and (c) average rate of absence from work through sickness for the Department for Work and Pensions was in each of the last 10 years. 
The following table is based on information from the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development's (CIPD) annual survey on absence management and represents the average number of days sickness absence per employee per year:
|National Average||Public Sector|
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). DWP was created in June 2001. The information provided before 2001 relates only to the former Department for Social Security (the main predecessor to the DWP). Information relating to the old Employment Department is unavailable.
|Department for Work and Pensions|
Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the proportion of long-term sick leave which is due to arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems. 
In 2005-06, an estimated 9.5 million working days were lost to musculoskeletal disorders.
This averages out at an estimated 17 days lost in each case, and is nearly a third of the estimated 30.5 million working days that were lost, in total, to work-related ill heath and injury in 2005-06.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in the provision of employment advisers in GP surgeries to advise on sick notes for statutory sick pay; and what evaluation he has made of pilot studies on such provision. 
Caroline Flint: 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 progress has been made on the provision of employment advisers in GP surgeries to advise on sick notes for statutory sick pay and what evaluation has been made of the pilot. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
We are currently piloting a Pathways Advisory Service (PAS) in GP surgeries within some Pathways to Work districts. The intention of this pilot is to test a gateway service where the personal adviser based within the surgery will provide advice on a range of work-related issues which patients may raise, and signpost them to appropriate Jobcentre Plus or external provision. Access to the PAS is voluntary, by self-referral or recommendation from a health professional and is open to any patient, although it is focused primarily on those claiming incapacity benefit or statutory sick pay. The PAS is being piloted in eight locations.
While Jobcentre Plus advisers will support customers on statutory sick pay, they do not give advice on sick notes. They do not become involved with the individual's health situation or discussions around sickness certification, other than that which the individual is happy to divulge.
The PAS is being evaluated by an independent research partnership, the University of York's Social Policy Research Unit and the National Centre for Social Research. The evaluation is due to report early in 2008.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking in liaison with the Social Fund Commissioner to improve the accuracy of decision-making with regard to the Social Fund. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 10 September 2007]: Jobcentre Plus and the Independent Review Service are currently developing a quality framework with the aim of improving the accuracy of Social Fund decision-making.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the amount of customer error underpayments was for (a) pension credit, (b) jobseekers allowance and (c) income support due to
incorrect declaration of (i) full-time earnings, (ii) part-time earnings, (iii) partner earnings, (iv) capital, (v) dependants, (vi) income, (vii) a partner, (viii) identification, (ix) address, (x) housing costs, (xi) other benefits, (xii) college, (xiii) hospitalisation, (xiv) maintenance payments, (xv) non-dependants, (xvi) a prison stay and (xvii) other in each year since 1997. 
|Estimated customer error underpayments in 2003-04|
|Reason||Income support working age||Jobseekers allowance||Pension credit and minimum income guarantee|
|Estimated customer error underpayments in 2004-05|
|Reason||Income support working age||Jobseekers allowance||Pension credit|
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