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Benefit Payments Non-residents

15. Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions What estimate he has made of the monetary value of benefits paid by his Department to citizens of other EU countries not resident in the UK in the last 12 months. [237976]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Nationality is not a condition of entitlement to DWP benefits and pensions, so it is not recorded. I can however tell you that the latest figures available show that the UK Government paid £1.01 billion in benefits and pensions during the period 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2008 for both UK nationals and EU citizens living in other EU countries.

20. Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the monetary value of benefits paid by his Department to citizens of other EU countries not resident in the UK in the last 12 months. [237981]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Nationality is not a condition of entitlement to DWP benefits and pensions, so it is not recorded. I can however tell you that the latest figures available show that the UK Government paid £1.01 billion in benefits and pensions during the period 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2008 for both UK nationals and EU citizens living in other EU countries.


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Mental Illness

16. Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to assist people with a mental illness or recovering from a mental illness to enter employment. [237977]

Jonathan Shaw: We recognise the employment challenges that people with mental health conditions face and we are working to develop a National Strategy for Mental Health and Work, to ensure a coordinated response across Government to the challenges faced by people of working age with mental health conditions and improve their employment chances.

Incapacity Benefit

17. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had on policy to enable people to move from incapacity benefit to employment. [237978]

Jonathan Shaw: Our Green Paper ‘No-one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility’ proposed a range of further steps to help people on incapacity benefits realise the personal benefits of moving into work. As part of the consultation process we have met with various groups representing disabled people to discuss welfare reform policy.

The Government will be publishing their response to the consultation in due course.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make an assessment of the effects of (a) low wages and (b) migrant workers on the number of incapacity benefit claimants in principal seaside towns; and if he will make a statement. [235533]

Jonathan Shaw: The Pathways to Work programme is now providing support for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance customers across the whole country. Government and independent research continues to find no significant evidence of negative employment effects from migration. We do not plan to make a specific assessment of the effects on incapacity benefit claimants in seaside towns.

Jobcentre Staff

19. Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to increase staffing levels at Jobcentres in response to recent projections of rising unemployment. [237980]

Mr. McNulty: The Government's investment in Jobcentre Plus means that we are well placed to deal with the full range of economic conditions.

However, in recognition of the current situation and the anticipated increase in our workload, we intend to employ an additional 2,200 full-time equivalent staff by March 2009. Some of this increase is already in place and we have set in hand a fast track recruitment process to enable us to achieve this as quickly as possible.

Staffing levels will be kept under active review in order to respond to rising economic challenges.


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Disability Living Allowance

21. John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has to extend the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance to people with severe sight loss. [237982]

Jonathan Shaw: We have had very constructive discussions with the Royal National Institute of Blind People and others on their proposal to extend the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance to people with severe visual impairments.

I welcomed the opportunity attend the RNIB lobby of Parliament on 15 October, along with hundreds of blind and visually impaired people from all around the UK. I certainly recognise the force of the arguments made and I look forward to working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People on this important issue.

Jobseeker's Allowance

22. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are claiming jobseeker's allowance. [237983]

Mr. McNulty: The number of people in the UK claiming jobseeker’s allowance in October was 980.9 thousand.

23. Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many jobseeker's allowance claimants there were in (a) the UK and (b) Clwyd West constituency on the latest date for which figures are available. [237984]

Mr. McNulty: The number of people in the UK claiming jobseeker’s allowance in October was 980.9 thousand.

In Clwyd West the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance was 1,053.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average period was for which jobseeker's allowance was claimed 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. [232151]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Mortgage Support

24. Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assistance his Department provides in respect of mortgage repayments to people who become unemployed. [237985]

25. Mr. Devine: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support his Department offers in respect of mortgage repayments to people who have lost their jobs. [237986]


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Kitty Ussher: I refer the hon. Members to the answer given by the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Crausby).

Access to Work Programme

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the budget for Access to Work will be in each of the next six years; and if he will make a statement. [237109]

Jonathan Shaw: The Access to Work budget for 2008-09 is £69 million. The Green Paper ‘No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility’, Cm 7363, announced that the budget for Access to Work will be doubled. The budget will be steadily increased to £138 million by 2013-14.

Benefit Fraud Inspectorate: Standards

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what national targets there are for the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate; and what the performance of its activities in Devon has been against these targets in each year since they were set. [237739]

Mr. McNulty: The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate closed for business on 31 March 2008.

Responsibilities for assessing and reporting on local authorities benefit services now rest with the appropriate audit bodies in England, Scotland and Wales.

No national or local performance targets were set for the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate.

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission: ICT

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which computer system the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission will use to calculate maintenance payments for their customers; what system the Child Support Agency has used hitherto; and if he will make a statement. [233940]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 6 November 2008]: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Commissioner to write to my right hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:


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Children: Maintenance

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Child Support Agency cases were unresolved three months after initiation at the latest date for which figures are available. [234691]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 10 November 2008]: The administration of the child maintenance system is a matter for the Commissioner of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of new Child Support Agency cases were resolved within six weeks of receipt in the latest period for which figures are available. [234711]

Kitty Ussher: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:


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Christmas

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have spent on Christmas (a) cards, (b) parties and (c) decorations in the last 12 months. [237477]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department does not have any account codes or categories to specifically identify spend on Christmas cards, parties or decorations. However, it does have in place a policy not to incur this kind of expense.

Connecting for Health

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost of buying out the Connecting for Health contracts. [233300]

Mr. Bradshaw: I have been asked to reply.

Each national programme for information technology (NPfIT) contract contains provisions for penalties to be paid in the event of premature termination of the contract by either party. The penalty payable would depend upon the circumstances leading to termination, and be either settled by agreement between the parties or, ultimately, be determined by a court. It is not possible to make a meaningful estimate of what the sum would be in respect of all NPfIT contracts because of the number of possible variables involved.


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