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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost of incorrect benefit payments was, excluding those payments resulting from fraud, in each of the last 10 years. 
|Estimated cost of incorrect benefit payments (not including fraud)|
|Cost of incorrect payments|
|Total amount of benefit paid||Customer error||Official error|
established a task force to reduce official error in the benefits most vulnerable to error;
launched the first ever long term error reduction strategy which addresses both official and customer error across the whole benefits system;
created a Benefit Simplification Unit to direct our work on reducing complexity in the benefit system.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically without the need for a claim. However a small number of people who are not in receipt of a benefit administered by DWP or who have not received a payment before need to make a claim.
For people who need to claim, claim forms are available from July for the oncoming winter and can be submitted up to the 30 March cut off date the following year. Payment cannot be made for claims received after the cut off date.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the cost to the public purse of extending winter fuel payments to all those eligible for the cold weather payment. 
1. Cold weather payment caseload extracted from Work and Pensions Longitudinal Survey, 100 percent data.
2. Cold weather payments to people under age 60 are made to those awarded income support or income based jobseeker's allowance who have a disability premium or a child under age five. The caseload for these benefits can go up or down from month to month. This estimate is based on those meeting the cold weather payment eligibility as at May 2006.
3. This estimate is based upon the assumption that individuals now eligible for a winter fuel payment under the cold weather criteria do not live in the same household as any other individual eligible for a WFP (therefore they are awarded the full winter fuel payment).
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effects the production of biofuels has had on the production of food crops. 
Mr. Woolas: The impact in the EU has been very limited as less than 2 per cent. of total cereal consumption will be used for biofuels this year. The current high level of cereal prices is mainly due to a mix of short and long term factors as set out in the DEFRA briefing note Implications of rising agricultural commodity prices available on the DEFRA website.
The Government are very eager to ensure that biofuel production is sustainable, and has commissioned Professor Ed Gallagher, chairman of the Renewable Fuels Agency, to lead a study on the wider economic and environmental impacts, including the impact on food prices, of different forms of biofuel production. The terms of reference for the review were published on the Department for Transports website on 13 March.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the effects the provisions of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 on the energy efficiency of (a) local authority housing stock and (b) privately rented homes; 
Mr. Woolas: The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 requires local authorities with housing responsibility to prepare a strategy for improving energy efficiency within residential accommodation in their areas and report annually on progress. Since 1996, authorities have reported an average total improvement of approximately 19 per cent. to 31 March 2006. Results for the period up to 31 March 2007 will be published shortly.
A number of programmes are likely to have contributed to this improvement in energy efficiency, particularly the Energy Efficiency Commitment, Warm Front and Decent Homes. It is important to note that Home Energy Conservation Act strategies and monitoring techniques differ, and that the figures reported have not been independently verified.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent efficiency directions have been issued to authorities that have not met the targets resulting from the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995. 
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities achieved the improvement targets resulting from the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 in each year since the Act was implemented; and how many he expects to achieve the targets in the next 12 months. 
Mr. Woolas: The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 requires local authorities with housing responsibility to prepare a strategy for improving energy efficiency within residential accommodation. These are aimed at achieving a voluntary 30 per cent. improvement within 10 to 15 years, though authorities identify their own specific targets. Most authorities have set 15 year targets, giving them until 2011 to meet them. However, annual progress reports suggest that 4 per cent. of authorities had met their targets by 31 March 2006.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole of 5 March 2008, Official Report, columns 2510-11W, what progress is being made in his discussions with the insurance industry on the availability of insurance cover for homes in flood risk areas; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: A statement from the Government and Association of British Insurers (ABI) was issued on 13 February confirming joint working to carry out the regular review of the statement of principles.
The scope of the review includes joint working groups looking at: assessing the information and mapping currently available and ensuring better understanding of flood risk; the approach to a long term strategy in order to provide effective flood risk management; promoting increased resilience, preventing inappropriate development in high flood risk areas, and addressing the interim conclusions from the Pitt Review on the availability and uptake of insurance.
Mr. Howard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has held with the Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia on deforestation on the island of Borneo; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 25 March 2008]: The Malaysian and Indonesian Governments signed the tri-Government (with Brunei) declaration on trans-boundary co-operation to preserve the Heart of Borneo in February 2007. The UK supports the development of a tri-national action plan to be completed in the first
half of 2008. This will be important in shaping the future protection and sustainable use of forests on Borneo. DEFRA is currently funding 16 projects in Indonesia and Malaysia under the Darwin Initiative, including forest related projects on Borneo.
I met with Indonesian Environment Minister Witoelar on 21 February 2008, and discussed forest carbon, among other issues. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) met with the Indonesian Minister of Agriculture on 1 October 2007 and discussed the problems of deforestation, and the related issues of illegal logging. He also discussed the need for a balanced approach to palm oil production. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Barry Gardiner) met with the Malaysian Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities in May 2007, explaining the UK's concern that palm oil production is increasing the pressure on forests.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the toxic equivalence quote is, as the maximum allowable level of dioxin contamination permitted before some form of corrective action must be taken, in the UK; what the evidential basis for this level is; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Maximum limits for dioxins and total toxicity equivalence (dioxins plus PCBs) in fish and fatty foods are set out in Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 and any food found to contain levels above these limits must be withdrawn from sale. Recommendation 2006/88/EC defines separate action levels for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in the same food categories. When a sample is found to exceed these levels, prompt action is taken to reduce the levels.
Legislation and abatement technologies have led to a significant reduction in environmental releases and human exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. There is no single threshold set for dioxin emissions into the environment. Directive 2000/76/EC on waste incineration set an emission limit for dioxins of 0.1 nanogram I- Toxicity Equivalence (TEQ) per cubic metre of gaseous releases to air, and emission limit values for discharges to water are set at 0.3 nanogram per litre. The Persistent Organic Pollutants regulation (EC-850/2004) brought in additional controls on the disposal of waste containing dioxins above a trigger level of 15ug/kg TEQ.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that the views of UK industry are sent to the European Commission officials drafting the impact assessment for the Energy-using Products Directive implementing measure for heaters and boilers. 
Joan Ruddock [holding answer 25 March 2008]: My officials are in the process of preparing a submission to the Commission which sets out our view of the proposals. This has been developed following extensive consultation with industry. I would also encourage industry to submit their views directly to the Commission.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultations the Energy-using Products Board plans to hold with industry on the working document on boilers and water heaters. 
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultations the Energy-using Products Board plans to have with the European Commission on the matter of boilers being outside the scope of the Energy-using Products Directive. 
Joan Ruddock [holding answer 25 March 2008]: DEFRA officials regularly meet and have discussions at EU level, including on energy efficient products, and have held a number of meetings with the Commission on the Energy-using Products Directive, including an informal meeting on the Commissions proposed implementing measure on boilers and water heaters. No specific discussions have been held on the matter of boilers being outside the scope of this directive as my Department supports their inclusion due to the high energy use of these products.
The Commission is currently analysing responses from the boiler and water heater industry on its proposals for boilers and water heaters. DEFRA officials attended a Consultation Forum (comprising the Commission, European trade associations and other member state representatives) on these proposals on 29 February.
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