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6 Dec 2007 : Column 1499Wcontinued
|Table 3: Persons aged 16 to 24 who are not in full-time education, employment or training: 12 months ending February 2001|
|Area||Number (thousand)||Percentage of all 16 to 24-year-olds|
|(1) Sample size too small to provide estimates.|
1. Estimates are subject to sampling variability.
2. Changes in the estimates over time should be treated with caution.
Annual local area Labour Force Survey
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps his Department is taking to ensure that tax credit claimants are consulted before deductions are made to compensate for overpayments; 
(2) what measures are in place to assist families in financial hardship as a result of tax credit overpayments; 
(3) if he will take steps to ensure that repayment demands made of tax credit claimants who have received overpayments are affordable; 
(4) what procedures are in place for consultations between his Department and HM Revenue and Customs to ensure that demands for repayments made to tax credit claimants who have been overpaid by both departments are affordable. 
Jane Kennedy: HMRCs approach on recovery of overpayments is set out in Code of Practice 26 What happens if we have paid you too much tax credits. In cases where recovery is made from an ongoing award, a customers award notice will confirm the amount of the overpayment and how much the award will be reduced by to recover the sum. To prevent hardship, payments from ongoing award are restricted to 10 per cent. of the tax credit award for those on maximum tax credits awards (those families with the lowest incomes). For those on a tapered award (those families whose income is higher than the WTC or CTC income threshold) recovery is set at 25 per cent. If families face financial difficulties on the reduced payments, they are advised to contact HMRC and ask for their case to be reconsidered.
If the customer is no longer entitled to tax credits, or their tax credits award has ended, as the household has changed, HMRC will write asking for a direct payment. The customer can pay back the amount over 12 months or, if a family says this would cause them financial hardship, over a longer period.
In exceptional circumstances, HMRC may write off all or part of an overpayment if it would cause hardship to pay it back.
I announced to the House on 18 October 2007, Official Report, column 944, that HMRC will replace the reasonable belief test with a clearer test that will set out customers responsibilities for checking factual information, and what in turn they can expect from HMRC.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department is taking to recover tax credits overpaid to claimants from their estates after their decease, as referred to in the answer of 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 243W, on welfare tax credits: overpayments. 
Jane Kennedy: Where a customer has died, HMRC make every effort to obtain a voluntary settlement of any outstanding overpayment from their personal representative or executor. If there are no funds in the estate, or if HMRC are unable to identify the personal representative or executor, the overpayment is written off.
In cases where a household has broken down and one of the couple has since died, both customers remain jointly and severally liable in law for any outstanding overpayment. If there are no funds in the deceased estate HMRC attempt to recover the full overpayment from the surviving partner taking account of their personal circumstances and our hardship provisions. But, HMRC would seek to do so sensitively and may, for example, recover the overpayment over an extended period or use our discretion to recover less than the full amount in some cases if appropriate.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on how many occasions he has accepted corporate hospitality in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Hain: Chapter 7 of the ministerial code sets out the rules on the registration of hospitality.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many and what proportion of posts in his Department have been recategorised from back office to frontline posts as classified by the Gershon efficiency review in each year since 2004. 
Mr. Hain: The Wales Office is a small office which supports the Secretary of State for Wales. We do not have executive functions, and posts are not defined as frontline or back office.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department and its agencies spent on end-of-year bonus payments in each of the last five years. 
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training programmes will be provided for Child Support Agency staff relating to the establishment of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. 
Mr. Plaskitt: People working in the Child Support Agency will be prepared for the establishment of the Child maintenance and Enforcement Commission through training and communication programmes, which will be developed as key appointments and decisions are made.
It is worth noting that the introduction of changes to the statutory maintenance system will be phased over the next few years, and we anticipate the Commission developing training programmes in line with these changes.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what procedures the Child Support Agency has in place to deal with cases of disputed parentage. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the Hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Stephen Geraghty dated 6 December 2007:
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 procedures the Child Support Agency has in place to deal with cases of disputed parentage. .
When preparing a maintenance assessment for a qualifying child, the Agency can assume parentage if one of a number of conditions are met. S3ection 26 of the Child Support Act 1991 details each of the circumstances in which the Agency can assume parentage.
An alleged non-resident parent can seek to rebut such a presumption via the courts at any time if they so wish, but in the meantime the Agency will proceed with making and enforcing a maintenance assessment. This speeds up the assessment process and helps prevent parentage disputes which only serve to delay the flow of maintenance to the detriment of the children.
In addition the Agency can offer alleged non-resident parents who dispute parentage access to DNA test. However parentage is assumed where the alleged non-resident parent refuses to take a DNA test or the test result shows that they are the parent of the child in question.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) intends to take by (i) 2012 and (ii) 2020 in relation to adaptation to the effects of climate change as they affect his Departmental responsibilities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Climate Change Bill and the cross-Government Adaptation Policy Framework (due for publication in spring 2008) will set out the Governments overall strategy on climate change. As yet, there are no specific targets in place for adaptationthese will be set following the publication of the Adaptation Policy Framework. The Department continues to work towards the achievement of the carbon reduction and neutrality targets for Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate.
DWP recognises that the most vulnerable in society may be disproportionately affected by climate change. As such, it is important to take steps to adapt to the short, medium and long-term risks and impacts. At the beginning of this year, the Department commissioned the Hadley Centre for Climate Change to undertake a high level assessment, building on an internal review carried out in 2003, of the risks that climate change poses to its policies and operations. This was launched at the Departments Sustainable Development conference in March, which focused and engaged senior officials specifically on the theme of climate change adaptation. The review is expected to be completed by the end of 2007, and will form the basis for a future programme of adaptation work, based on the priorities identified.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in implementing the Crisis Loans Improvement Plan; and if he will make a statement. 
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.
Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 6 December 2007:
The Secretary of State has asked me to respond to your question on what progress has been made in implementing the Crisis Loan Improvement Plan. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The Crisis Loan Improvement Plan involved a pilot which started in Sheffield Contact Centre on 21 May 2007 which involved working with Benefit Delivery Centres to provide decisions on Crisis Loan applications within three hours of the customer's telephone call. Due to the success of this pilot the process has since been extended to 12 Social Fund Centres, supported by eight Contact Centres answering all Crisis Loan calls.
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