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Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make an assessment of the socio-economic background of those on incapacity benefit who are (a) actively seeking work and (b) not actively seeking work in the principal seaside towns in comparison to those such groups (i) nationally and (ii) locally; and if he will make a statement. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make an assessment of the average level of educational qualification of (a)
incapacity benefit claimants and (b) the long-term unemployed resident in the principal seaside towns in England and Wales in comparison to such claimants (i) nationally and (ii) in neighbouring communities; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people on incapacity benefit who have recently moved into the principal seaside towns; and if he will make a statement. 
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what interest rate he assumes in determining assistance to mortgage holders receiving income support; and if he will make a statement. 
Kitty Ussher: From December 2004, the standard interest rate used to calculate support for mortgage interest payments in income support, income-based jobseekers allowance and state pension credit was changed to respond to changes in the Bank of England base rate. The standard interest rate is the Bank of England base rate plus an additional 1.58 per cent. This is more representative, transparent, easier to understand and easier to administer than the previous method, which was based upon an average of building society interest rates. The additional 1.58 per cent. recognises the fact that lenders' interest rates are set at a higher rate than the base rate and to ensure that no-one lost out when the method of calculation changed.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if, following the recent consultation in relation to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme, he will consider the merits of holding a further consultation on the new scheme relating to lump sum payments for those suffering from mesothelioma resulting from exposure to asbestos at work; 
(2) what conclusions have been drawn from the recent consultation on the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme, on the merits of an extension of the period within which claims must be made after injury occurs in the light of the long gestation periods of some work-related illnesses such as mesothelioma; 
(3) what conclusions have been drawn from the recent consultation on the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme with regard to benefits being awarded to those individuals who have retired from work or moved onto new employment and who later suffer disability as a result of injury at work; 
(4) what conclusions have been drawn from the recent consultation on the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme in relation to those suffering from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos at work. 
Kitty Ussher [holding answer 16 October 2008]: We have asked questions about the possible reform of the current Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme, which includes those suffering from mesothelioma, in the consultation document, No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility Cm7363. The consultation exercise ends on 22 October 2008. When the consultation has ended we will carefully consider the views that people have expressed before publishing a summary of the responses and our response.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed jobseeker's allowance for a period of (a) between six and 12 months, (b) between 12 and 24 months and (c) more than 24 months in each month in each of the last three years, broken down by the smallest geographical area for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of jobseeker's allowance claimants have been (a) referred and (b) sanctioned for not accepting a reasonable job offer in each of the last five years. 
|Percentage of varied length jobseekers allowance referrals, sanctioned for refusal of employment1 April 2003 to 31 March 2008 as a proportion of all jobseekers allowance claims|
|Refusal of employment|
|Year ending (April to March)||Referrals||Varied sanctions|
Individuals may have had more than one referral or more than one sanction applied against them and therefore be counted more than once, similarly individuals can have more than one jobseekers allowance claim during the year.
DWP Information Directorate: Jobseekers Allowance Sanctions and Disallowance Decisions Statistics Database.
During the period in question, the decline in decisions to apply sanctions for refusing employment coincides with an increase in decisions to apply sanctions to those who have either not done enough to find work or who are unreasonably restricting their availability for work.
(2) what steps his Department is taking to simplify the application (a) form and (b) process for (i) pension credit and (ii) other benefits to which pensioners are entitled; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The pension credit application process has been simplified to make it easier to apply. Customers no longer need to sign and return their pension credit forms as applications can be made entirely over the telephone.
A further simplification has been introduced this November which enables claims to housing benefit and council tax benefit to be made over the telephone with the pension credit application and forwarded directly to the local authority without the need for a signature.
In February 2007 an additional question was introduced into the pension credit application process to identify customers with caring responsibilities which results in the customer being invited, where appropriate, to claim carer's allowance using a new, shortened, claim pack specifically designed for people of pension age.
While the new method of applying by telephone is being promoted, customers can still request a clerical pension credit application form if they wish and will be sent an application pack. However, by answering a few simple questions, the application form can now be tailored to match their personal circumstances and will contain only the relevant questions to complete. Customer letters are also now available in Welsh and/or large print formats and are issued automatically, ensuring the customer receives the same speed of service as a customer requesting an English language standard print letter.
A number of partnership organisations such as Age Concern, North East Pensioners Association (NEPA) and Better Government for Older People (BGOP) were involved in the redesign process and provided input into the final products which were subject to scrutiny by the Social Security Advisory Committee.
The Pension, Disability and Carers Service continues to promote the take up of all pensioner benefits, entitlements and services through a range of marketing activities. Campaign activity in 2008-09 to promote the take up of pension credit has utilised direct mail, local partnership activity and regional radio, press and outdoor advertising.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many powers of entry have been (a) introduced and (b) abolished through legislation sponsored by his Department since 1997. 
(i) Social Security Administration Act 1992, s.109C (inserted by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000, s.67);
(ii) Social Security Administration Act 1992, s.121A (inserted by Social Security Act 1998, came into force 1999);
(iii) Child Support Act 1991, s.15(4) (inserted by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000, s.14, came into force 31 January 2001);
(iv) Pensions Act 2004, s.73, and
(v) Pensions Act 2004, s.192.
(i) Pensions Act 1995, s.99, and
(ii) the provisions of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 which were repealed when s.109C of that same Act (see point (i) of the powers created, above) came into force.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 12 June 2008, Official Report, column 431W, on welfare state: EU enlargement, what progress has been made on the review of EEA nationals' access to benefits; and when he expects the report to be published. 
Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the likely change in his Departments expenditure in the next 12 months on benefits paid to families resulting from the economic downturn; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: We have been planning for the impact of higher levels of jobseekers allowance claims in the coming months, but do not forecast the future level of unemployment. The published benefit forecasts use the Treasurys budget planning assumption for claimant unemployment. Benefit forecasts include benefits going to families, but only explicitly identify families where this is a relevant factor in determining the amount of benefit payable.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people called the Benefit Fraud hotline in each of the last 12 months; how many of those calls were followed up with an investigation; and how many successful prosecutions for benefit fraud there have been over the same period. 
Mr. McNulty: Every call to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline is examined by the Department. Where there is enough evidence the case is then passed to either the fraud Investigation Service for investigation or to our compliance teams in Jobcentres, who will scrutinise the relevant benefit claim and make adjustments to entitlements. Prosecutions take on average around nine months from investigation to the court case so many of the referrals this year are still under investigation with a view to determining whether a prosecution is in the public interest.
|Month||Number of calls to National Benefit Fraud Hotline||Referred to FIS (Intelligence) for further development||Referred for criminal investigation||Referred for customer compliance investigation|
1. Count for number of investigations includes both FIBS and FRAIMS data as final roll out was in February 2008.
2. Number of investigations is generated from the number of referrals/incidents accepted for investigation (those which result in a case being opened)
3. Figures represent GB only (do not include NI).
FIBS and FRAIMS
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