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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much debt is outstanding to the Social Fund in respect of beneficiaries who no longer receive benefits from which deductions can be made; and what progress is being made in recovery of these outstanding sums. 
Mr. Plaskitt: At July 2007, £264.3 million was outstanding in social fund loans to beneficiaries no longer in receipt of benefits from which deductions can be made. This figure is, generally speaking, obviously inversely proportional to success rates in moving customers off benefits and into work
To ensure that the recovery of theses monies continues once benefit deduction is no longer possible, these cases are in the process of being transferred to the Departments Shared Services Debt Management organisation. This transfer will be completed by the end of March 2008. This will ensure that Debt Managements specialist skills and technology can be used to the best effect to recover these loans.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what central assumptions his Department makes in drawing up its projections for the purpose of estimating future demand for benefits about current (a) mean and (b) median (i) fertility, (ii) average age at marriage and (iii) marriage rates of each gender. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Departments expenditure forecasts and projections currently use 2004-based population projections, including projections of fertility, and 2003-based marital status projections, both published by the Government Actuarys Department. There are no explicit assumptions about the average age of marriage, or the distribution of fertility, in these projections.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are employed by his Department solely for the purpose of detecting and investigating fraudulent benefit claims. 
Mr. Plaskitt: In April 2006 the National Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) was launched to combat fraud through a more focused, sanction-orientated organisation. In addition, from April 2006 we introduced new customer compliance officers to tackle low-level abuse that cannot be taken through the criminal courts.
As at April 2007, there were 2,926 people employed by the Fraud Investigation Service. This is made up from 2,314 working in area fraud, 339 in criminal intelligence, 232 in organised fraud and 41 in technical and support roles. The overall aim of the Departments anti-fraud strategy is to have a benefit system which is secure from first claim to final payment. The implementation of this strategy means than an anti-fraud focus is integral to the work of all staff in the Department.
Caroline Flint: Private and voluntary organisations are often best placed to help our clients, particularly those with a disability or health condition, by providing the specialist services they need. They have the flexibility to develop new and innovative approaches specifically tailored to their clients.
The private and voluntary sector will continue to have a very important role to play in drawing on the expertise and skills of a wider variety of organisations that can help us to get people off benefit and back into work.
Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each constituency in the East Midlands received the retirement pension age addition for those aged 80 years or over in the latest period for which figures are available. 
|Parliamentary constituencies||State pension age addition recipients|
1. Data are taken from the 5 per cent. extract of the Pension Service Computer System as at 30 September 2006, and the figures are subject to a degree of sampling variation. They are also adjusted to be consistent with the overall caseload from the Work and Pension Longitudinal Study.
2. The figures are rounded to the nearest 100.
3. The boundaries of parliamentary constituencies do not correspond exactly to Government Office Regions (GOR). As a result, small areas of some parliamentary constituencies listed in the table lie outside the geographical boundaries of East Midlands GOR.
Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate 5 per cent. sample, rated to caseload in Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many males will lose their eligibility for winter fuel payments on account of the linked rise in the state pension age for women in each year from 2010 to 2020; what the expected minimum age for resultant saving is to public funds; and what minimum age for eligibility for winter fuel payouts to persons of both sexes will be set after state pension age is harmonised. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The minimum age at which both men and women will be able to receive a winter fuel payment will rise incrementally to 65, between 2010 and 2020, as women's state pension age rises to align with state pension age for men.
No-one will lose eligibility for a winter fuel payment as a result of these changes. Everyone who has become eligible for a winter fuel payment will continue to receive it every winter as a substantial contribution towards the cost of their winter fuel bill.
Some men will, however, become eligible for a winter fuel payment later than they would have done had women's state pension age not risen. The information in the following table shows the number of males in a given tax year who would have been eligible for a winter fuel payment if the state pension age for women had remained unchanged and the estimated resultant savings.
Pensions reform as a whole is designed to improve outcomes for pensioners in the futureas a result the amount we spend on pensioners will increase substantially. In 2010 expenditure on pensions is forecast to be 5.1 per cent of gross domestic product. This will increase to 5.2 per cent. by 2020.
|Number of males in a given tax year who would have been eligible for a winter fuel payment if the state pension age for women had remained unchanged|
|Number of males affected in a given tax year||Estimated resultant saving to public funds (2006-07 prices) (£ million)|
| Note: The caseloads in a given year reflect the number of men who would have had eligibility had the qualifying age for winter fuel payment remained unchanged. Source: Estimates based on DWP forecasts and September 2006 RPWB administrative dataset, five per cent sample.|
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average percentage of pensioners' energy bills that was met by the winter fuel allowance in 2006; and what the estimated percentage is for 2007. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information is in the following table. The winter fuel allowance is intended to assist pensioners in winter to cover additional heating bills. It is not intended to cover the whole cost. Winter fuel payments have increased from £20 in 1997-98 to the current value of £200 for households with someone aged 60 to 79 years of age, and £300 for households with someone aged 80 or over.
| Notes: 1. Figures for 2005-06 are based on the outturn; figures for 2006-07 are estimates based on the most recent available data and projections. Estimates for 2007-08 are not included due to the unavailability of fuel price data for the entire year. 2. Average household fuel expenditure is taken from the ONS expenditure and food survey (family spending survey) 2005-06. It is based on households where the primary respondent is aged 65 years or older. 3. Average winter fuel payments have been calculated by dividing expenditure on winter fuel payments by the number of households in receipt of winter fuel payments.|
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