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3 Feb 2009 : Column 1008W—continued

Palestinians: Overseas Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid he has made available to the population of Gaza in the last two years. [248169]


3 Feb 2009 : Column 1009W

Mr. Douglas Alexander: In 2007-08 the Department for International Development provided £63.6 million to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). This included £15.6 million to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees in the region; £3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, and £35.5 million to the PA which helped it provide essential public services in both Gaza and the West Bank.

In 2008-09 the UK has already provided £19 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to help Palestinian refugees in the region, including the 70 per cent. of Gazans who are refugees. We have also given £23.5 million to the Palestinian Authority for delivery of public services in Gaza and the west bank.

As announced on 18 January 2009, the UK has pledged an additional £20 million to help meet needs in Gaza, bringing the total UK response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to nearly £27 million since the conflict started.

I also refer my hon. Friend to the answer provided to the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) on 28 January 2009, Official Report , column 613-14W.

Zimbabwe: Overseas Aid

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department plans to take to provide assistance to the people of Zimbabwe in the next 12 months. [253099]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for International Development's (DFID) programme in Zimbabwe is focused on providing immediate humanitarian support and broader livelihoods assistance to meet the essential needs of the people of Zimbabwe. This year we have provided: £9 million to the World Food programme for food aid; £10 million to support the growing season; and £9 million to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. We also recently made £10 million available to tackle the cholera outbreak and support life-saving essential health systems. The UK is one of the largest donors giving £45 million last year in aid. We anticipate a total spend of £47 million this financial year across these areas of life-saving need. Our aid is channelled through the UN and NGOs and not the Government of Zimbabwe.

We anticipate the need for sustained large-scale humanitarian support from the international community for the foreseeable future and we are monitoring the situation very closely. However, a sustainable and credible political solution is required to really address Zimbabwe's problems. In principle, we are ready to support economic and social recovery in Zimbabwe but the nature of our support will be contingent on a new administration’s commitment to change, including: commitment to macroeconomic stabilisation; restoration of the rule of law; commitment to democracy and respect for human rights and full humanitarian access.

Work and Pensions

Redundancy

Mr. Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the capacity of his Department's local offices to assist people made redundant. [253034]


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Mr. McNulty: Jobcentre Plus is well prepared: it is increasing its staffing levels and ensuring it has the office and infrastructure capacity it needs to respond to the current economic situation.

For those under threat of redundancy, we are doubling the resources available to the Jobcentre Plus rapid response teams who offer immediate advice to affected employers and individuals to help them with their next steps.

Bereavement Benefits

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the target processing period is for applications for bereavement benefit. [249683]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 20 January 2009]: There is no national target for the processing of applications for bereavement benefits although we aim to deliver bereavement allowance within 15 days and bereavement payment within 10 days.

Payment of bereavement benefits has now been centralised nationally into two benefit delivery centres at Arbroath and Dover in order to improve the service to our customers. Between April and December 2008 new bereavement allowance claims were processed in just over 15 days on average and new bereavement payment claims in just over nine days on average.

Children: Maintenance

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many parents with care were owed Child Support Agency maintenance arrears in each month since May 1997; [242094]

(2) what the average amount of Child Support Agency maintenance arrears owed to parents with care was per case in each month since May 1997; [242095]

(3) what the average amount of child maintenance arrears outstanding was on all Child Support Agency cases with maintenance outstanding in each month since May 1997. [242192]

Kitty Ussher: 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:

Open cases with outstanding maintenance arrears from March 2007 to September 2008. This includes those cases without outstanding arrears at September 2008.
Month Cases without outstanding arrears( 1) Cases with arrears due to parent with care( 2) Average arrears owed to parent with care( 2 ) (£) Average total arrears( 3) (£)

March 2007

636,500

2,700

3,700

June 2007

656,600

2,700

3,700

September 2007

670,600

2,700

3,600

December 2007

686,800

2,600

3,600

March 2008

697,100

2,600

3,500

June 2008

711,800

2,600

3,500

September 2008

563,000

718,800

2,600

3,500

(1) Refers to open cases including those without a current liability.
(2) Information provided only includes open cases including those without a current liability where debt is owed to the parent with care. This excludes debt owed to the Secretary of State as well as some cases where the parent with care owes money.
(3) Includes total debt on open cases including those without a current liability which is owed by non resident parents to the parent with care and/or Secretary of State. This excludes debt where money is owed to the non-resident parent.
Notes:
1. Data only available from March 2007 onwards.
2. All figures rounded to nearest 100.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the largest amount of maintenance arrears outstanding on a single case with the Child Support Agency was in each month in each year since May 1997; [242195]

(2) what the largest amount of maintenance arrears which the Child Support Agency has requested be settled in full was in each of the last 24 months. [242196]

Kitty Ussher: 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:

The average debt owed by non-resident parents, taken from the top 5 per cent. of cases in each month from March 2007.

Number of cases Average debt (£)

March 2007

49,500

32,400

April 2007

50,000

32,300

May 2007

50,600

32,200

Jun 2007

51,000

32,000

July 2007

51,300

32,000

August 2007

51,800

31,800

September 2007

52,100

31,800

October 2007

52,500

31,700

November 2007

52,800

31,600

December 2007

53,200

31,500

January 2008

53,300

31,500

February 2008

53,000

31,500

March 2008

53,900

31,400

April 2008

54,200

31,300

May 2008

54,500

31,300

June 2008

54,800

31,300

July 2008

55,100

31,200

August 2008

55,000

31,300

September 2008

54,600

31,400

Notes:
1. Only includes cases with a positive debt owed by the non-resident parent. Some cases have a 'negative' debt where money is owed to the non resident parent.
2. Figures are extracted from the Agency's debt book. This is only available from March 2007.

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