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The reduction in the amount recorded as recovered in 2006-07 was largely as a result of the introduction of customer compliance in April 2006. Customer compliance deals with low level fraud and customer error allowing the criminal compliance teams to focus on the more serious and complex fraud cases which are likely to result in a criminal sanction. The focus of customer compliance on low level fraud allows for earlier intervention resulting in a shorter period of overpayment and smaller cash value.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent on each state benefit for pensioners in (a) Scotland and (b) England in the last year for which figures are available; and how much was spent on average per pensioner in each year. 
|Benefits paid to pensioners in Scotland and in England in 2006-07|
|£ million, nominal|
1. All figures are consistent with Budget 2008, as well as expenditure information published on the internet at www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/expenditure.asp
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest £ million.
3. Expenditure on State Pension, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Christmas Bonus are defined as benefits paid to women over 60 and men over 65.
4. Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Winter Fuel Payments expenditure refers to benefit units or households where at least one person is aged 60 or over.
5. The average per pensioner is estimated by dividing the total pensioner benefits by the state pension caseload. Those claiming Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Winter Fuel Payments between the ages of 60-64 are not included in this caseload, but are included in expenditure. This small inconsistency is unlikely to materially affect the relative spending per head between England and Scotland.
Departmental Accounting and statistical data
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples (i) claiming and (ii) not claiming
disability living allowance received on average from claims for (A) council tax benefit, (B) housing benefit and (C) pension credits in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consideration has been given to the legality of benefit payments to polygamous families for each additional wife in line with current guidelines from the Department for Work and Pensions on income support. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The rules governing entitlement for polygamously married claimants are set out in legislation. The policy governing benefit entitlement for polygamously married claimants has not changed since 1988.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what benefits are available to (a) undergraduate and (b) postgraduate students who have been released into the community under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983, have been certified as unfit for work or study for a specified period, and are unable immediately to continue their studies or receive funding contingent on further study; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: There are no benefits specifically aimed at this group of individuals. Entitlement to any benefits will be dependent on the individual's circumstance and their meeting the normal qualifying conditions for the benefit.
For anybody being provided with care under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1993, entitlement to some benefits will be dependent on the exact nature of the care being provided by the relevant authorities.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what pilot schemes on the use of voice recognition technology are (a) being undertaken and (b) planned by his Department in Wales; 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 10 July 2008]: Voice recognition technology allows the customer to respond to automated questions to ensure they are correctly routed to the service they require depending on the response.
We are planning a four-day trial of voice recognition technology (interactive voice response wizard) on an automated line to request claim forms for attendance allowance and disability living allowance later this year. There are currently no plans for any voice recognition technology pilot schemes in Wales.
For the interactive voice response wizard trial, the automated service will provide the customer with the option to obtain disability living allowance and attendance allowance claim forms in the Welsh language. As the trial is for a very limited period, Welsh speakers who contact the helpline will be routed to an adviser to arrange the issue of the Welsh language claim form.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effects of the economic situation on the (a) rate of progress in obtaining the goals, (b) timing of implementation and (c) costs of his Department's Welfare to Work strategy. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 10 September 2008]: The UK labour market continues to be highly flexible and dynamic with new jobs becoming available all the time. Around 10,000 new vacancies are placed with Jobcentres every day, representing only some of the job opportunities available within the economy. Job-centre Plus receives over 200,000 new Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) claims every month, but the majority of people on JSA leave it within three months, with our active labour market programmes providing effective support to help people back into work.
We set out the principles underpinning our welfare to work strategy, and our key goals for improving employment opportunities, in "No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility" (Cm 7363, July 2008). We are consulting on these proposals and remain committed to those goals. Details of the measures to be introduced and our plans for their implementation will be published after completion of the consultation period. These will build on the measures we are already implementing such as the employment and support allowance being introduced from this October.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the level of the winter fuel payment was in (a) cash terms, (b) real terms expressed in 2003 prices and (c) as a percentage of the average energy and gas bill in each year since 2003. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The winter fuel payment is intended to provide a contribution towards winter heating bills which account for around 60 per cent. of the total annual fuel bill. The payment provides a significant contribution to these higher winter costs. 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.
This coming winter an additional payment will be made of £50 for households with someone aged 60-79 and £100 for households with someone aged 80 or over increasing the Winter Fuel Payment to £250 and £400 respectively for winter 2008-09.
|(1) From 2006, the Family Spending Survey reports on a calendar year basis. 2006 is the latest available data on household energy (including gas) expenditure and is applied here. (2) 2003-04 prices. Notes: 1. The real value of the winter fuel payment is calculated by indexing RPI = 100 in 2003-04. 2. The RPI index applied is taken from Table RP02, produced by the Office for National Statistics. 3. The average annual energy and gas bill for all households is estimated using data from the Family Spending Survey, produced by the Office for National Statistics. The average energy bill includes all household expenditure on electricity, gas and 'other fuels'. 4. All percentages rounded to the nearest five per cent.|
Mrs. McGuire: Although the Department has not awarded contracts direct to Xansa plc in the past five years, it has awarded contracts to Xansa UK Ltd. for external consultancy and IT services and to Xansa Recruitment Ltd. for external interim personnel in the last five years. These two companies are former subsidiaries of Xansa plc. Xansa plc was acquired by Steria in November 2007 and rebranded as Steria in March 2008.
|Xansa UK Ltd.||Xansa Recruitment Ltd.|
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