Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people resident in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire were prosecuted for benefit fraud in each of the last five years. 
|Prosecutions accepted for Hertfordshire
1. There is missing data in 2006-07 for one local authority in Hertfordshire for two quarters only.
2. There is missing data for four local authorities in 2007-08: three quarters data is missing for one local authority (with the largest number of prosecutions in 2006-07 (32)); two quarters missing data for one local authority; and one quarters data missing for two local authorities.
3. The local authorities that make up Hertfordshire are: Borough of Broxbourne; Dacorum Borough Council; East Herts District Council; Hertsmere Borough Council; North Hertfordshire District Council; St. Albans District Council; Stevenage Borough Council; Three Rivers District Council; Watford Borough Council; and, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.
Housing Operational Database (HoBoD) from Stats 124 administrative returns provided by Local Authorities. (URL: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/hobod/index.php)
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much he expects his Departments We're closing in campaign to cost; what estimate he has made of the additional number of fraudulent benefit claimants to be caught as a result of the campaign; and what performance measures have been set for the campaign. 
Mr. McNulty: Expenditure for the Were Closing In campaign is forecast to be £6 million for 2008-09. The campaign aims to deter benefit thieves from stealing benefits by increasing their perception of the risk and consequences of getting caught. It is not possible to identify separately the additional numbers caught as a result of the campaign. The impact of the campaign will be gauged through tracking research which will measure:
fear of being caught if you commit fraud
awareness of the consequences of being caught
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of calls reporting benefit fraud led to a successful conviction in the last period for which figures are available. 
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.
In the majority of these cases benefit was adjusted and recovery action initiated but where there is a significant loss to public funds and it is considered in the public interest, prosecutions are considered. 451 convictions followed from referrals to the Hotline out of a total of 6,878 convictions in 2006-07.
1. Count for number of investigations and convictions relates to DWP investigations only recorded on FIBS
2. Figures are for GB only.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason the processing of benefits administration in respect of Gloucestershire has been moved from Cedar house, Gloucester, to St Austell, Cornwall; and if he will make a statement. 
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the effect on claimants of mortgage interest payments if the standard interest rate is reduced and lenders do not reduce interest rates on mortgages by an equivalent amount. 
Kitty Ussher: Help is provided towards the interest on mortgages as part of Income Support, income-based jobseekers allowance, state pension credit and income-related employment and support allowance.
The amount of help is calculated using a standard interest rate which is applied to the first £100,000 of the mortgage. These payments are not designed to cover all of a person's mortgage liabilities, such as capital repayments, arrears or insurance premiums.
We have now announced that from January 2009, the standard interest rate will be applied to the first £200,000 of the mortgage for new working age claims, and that the waiting period for new claims will be reduced to 13 weeks.
Further, we shall freeze the standard interest rate we use as the basis of the calculation for support for mortgage interest payments at 6.08 per cent. from December and review this after six months. Without such intervention the reduction in the Bank of England base rate by 1.5 per cent. would trigger an automatic reduction in the standard interest rate, to 4.58 per cent. This change will help those borrowers with a fixed mortgage rate over 50 per cent. of all those with a mortgagewhose average rates remain at 5.74 per cent.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which countries in which UK nationals reside do not have reciprocal social security agreements with the UK; and how many UK nationals are resident in each such country. 
Mr. McNulty: The UK only has reciprocal social security agreements covering the following countries and territories: Austria; Barbados; Belgium; Bermuda; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Canada; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Guernsey; Iceland; Ireland; Isle of Man; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Jersey; Kosovo; Luxembourg; Malta; Mauritius; Montenegro; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; the Philippines; Portugal; Serbia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; the USA and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
1. Guernsey includes Alderney, Herm and Jethou.
2. The agreement with the United States of America covers also American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of travel warrants issued to his Department's customers was in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will estimate the savings which would have accrued to the public purse if all such travel warrants had been issued early enough to benefit from lower fares available in advance. 
The main use of travel warrants by DWP is through the Travel to Interview Scheme (TIS). This scheme is administered by Jobcentre Plus for customers attending a job interview and covers travel by both public and private transport. In 2007-08, total expenditure on TIS was £2.2 million (we do not record travel warrant costs separately).
Ms Rosie Winterton: Currently, 87 per cent. of people claim their state pension by phone, prompted by a letter from PDCS some weeks ahead of their retirement date. 55 per cent. of telephone claims are handled in one touchthat is, the award of state pension is made during the initial phone call. The remaining cases take longer as further inquiries are made; or, in the period immediately following a change of tax year, while national insurance contribution records are updated by HMRC. This affects achievement of the clearance target.
Since October 2008, customers can claim four benefits in one free phone call: state pension, pension credit, council tax benefit and housing benefit. In some circumstances, we will also arrange face-to-face visits to help people with making their claims.
|State pension clearance times
|( 1) 2008-09
|(1) Year to date (September)
Source: Pensions Service Legacy System
Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of rules on state pension entitlement on people who stay at home to care for (a) children and (b) elderly relatives; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Since the introduction of home responsibilities protection in 1978 over 1.7 million women have had their basic state pension boosted because they had cared for children or severely disabled persons. Carers have also had access to state second pension from 2002, with 1.9 million carers building entitlement in 2005-06.
However, home responsibilities protection has not been widely understood and cannot benefit those women who have spent their entire lives caring. We therefore brought forward new measures in the Pensions Act 2007 to change home responsibilities protection into a simple national insurance credit for those reaching state pension age from 6 April 2010. They will allow, in certain circumstances, parents and carers to build up entitlement to basic state pension even where they have never had paid employment. As a result of these reforms, along with other measures such as a reduction in the number of qualifying years required to receive a full basic state pension from 39 to 30 for women (44 to 30 for men), the proportion of women reaching state pension age in 2010 with a full basic pension will rise from around 50 per cent. to 75 per cent., increasing to over 90 per cent. by 2025.
The state second pension already provides a more generous additional state pension for carers and other vulnerable groups than they would have received under SERPS. As a result of our pension reforms, we expect around 1 million more people will accrue state second pension from 2010. Those caring for children up to the age of 12, foster carers and people who spend at least 20 hours a week caring for one or more severely disabled persons will be able to build up entitlement. Approximately 90 per cent. of these will be women.
Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each constituency in the East Midlands received the retirement age addition for persons aged 80 years or over in the latest period for which figures are available. 
|State pension age addition recipients
1. Case loads are rounded to the nearest 100.
2. The boundaries of parliamentary constituencies do not correspond exactly to Government office regions (GORs).
3. September 2007 is the latest available data.
Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample, rated to case load in Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.