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23 Feb 2009 : Column 89W—continued

Social Security Benefits: Offenders

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many written warnings have been issued to benefit claimants in (a) pilot and (b)
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other areas on sanctions in relation to refusal to engage in a rehabilitation programme in respect of anti-social behaviour or criminal behaviour under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 as amended by the Welform Reform Act 2007 in each month since November 2007; in how many cases benefit sanctions have been applied; what assessment he has made of progress in the pilot areas against the objectives of the pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement. [254031]

Mr. McNulty: Although the pilots for the sanction in housing benefit related to anti-social behaviour have been running since 1 November 2007, none of the eight local authorities has issued a written warning under section 130B of the Contributions and Benefits Act.

The courts for the pilot areas have notified the department of only five repossessions on the grounds of anti social behaviour. There are no data for other areas. Research conducted so far has concluded that, although the sanction has been publicised and used in routine warning letters to tenants engaged in anti-social behaviour, the general view is that the impact of a warning of a sanction at an early stage is limited and the threat of eviction is taken more seriously. However, the pilots have 10 more months to run and we will continue to research the deterrent effect of the sanction and the impact of any sanctions administered during that period.

Social Security Benefits: Overpayments

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many overpayments of each type of benefit were made to claimants in (a) Eastbourne and (b) the UK in the last 12 months. [257207]

Kitty Ussher: The information is not available for claimants in Eastbourne. Information in relation to how many overpayments of each type of benefit in the UK is in the following table. The information is not available in the format that covers the last 12 months, but is broken down for the year April 2007 to March 2008, and then from April to December 2008 inclusive.

The data include all identified overpayments, including those classified as fraud, customer error and official error.

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Volumes of overpayments by benefit

2007-08 2008 April to December

Attendance Allowance



Bereavement Allowance



Carers Allowance



Constant Attendance Allowance



Disability Living Allowance



Employment and Support Allowance



Incapacity benefit



Industrial Death benefit



Industrial Injuries benefit



Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit



Income Support



Invalidity Benefit



Job Seekers Allowance



Maternity Allowance



Pension Credit



Retirement Allowance



Reduced Earnings allowance



State Pension



Severe Disablement Allowance



Winter Fuel payments



Widowed Mothers allowance



Widows pension



Widowed parents allowance



Christmas Bonus









(1) Data for April to December 2008 do not include small overpayments that are not deemed cost effective to pursue. These were recorded separately during this period and cannot be broken down by benefit. They totalled 267,632 for this period.
Data for April to December 2008 are indicative only.

Social Security Benefits: Overseas Residence

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to which allowances and benefits UK citizens living in other EU member states and Switzerland may be entitled; and when the Government plans to implement the decisions of the European Court of Justice on the matter. [255298]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 9 February 2009]: People who move from the UK to live in other EU member states and Switzerland may continue to receive certain UK social security benefits. For example they continue to be paid some UK contributory benefits such as state pension or bereavement benefit.

UK citizens who live in other states may be able to claim benefits from their state of residence. The exact nature of the benefits they can receive depends on where they have worked, what benefits they receive from the UK, whether they meet the relevant entitlement conditions and how the benefits are covered under the European social security coordination rules. These rules cover benefits for old age, survivors, invalidity, unemployment, industrial injury and prescribed diseases, sickness, maternity, and family.

The UK does not hold detailed information on the benefits systems of other states.

We expect to set out entitlement conditions for those wishing to claim the UK disability benefits from abroad shortly. The Directgov website will be updated at that time:

Social Security Benefits: Postal Services

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what recent discussions he had held with Royal Mail on redirecting benefit-related communications sent by his Department; and if he will make a statement; [253490]

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(2) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness in reducing benefit fraud and error of the agreement with Royal Mail to redirect benefit-related communication sent to customers by his Department. [253491]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 3 February 2009]: The Secretary of State has not held any recent discussions with Royal Mail regarding redirection of benefit related mail by his Department.

The Department has not made any recent assessments of the effectiveness of the agreement between Royal Mail and the Department to redirect benefit-related communications.

However, responses from a recent local authority survey and discussions with local authorities’ representatives suggest that it acts as an effective deterrent against fraud.

The Do Not Redirect agreement between Royal Mail and DWP is an anti-fraud measure that applies specifically to local authorities’ housing benefit and council tax benefit correspondence.

I would also like correct previous answers given regarding this matter—16 October 2008, Official Report, column 1376W and 29 January 2009, Official Report, column 698W, do not make clear that the agreement with Royal Mail relates to local authority housing benefit and council tax benefit only. It does not apply to any of the benefits administered by the DWP. I apologise to my hon. Friend for this error.

Social Security Benefits: Proof of Identity

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons his Department has decided to require the production of a passport as proof of identity for the purpose of access to the services it provides; and what consideration was given to continuing to accept a birth certificate as proof of identity. [256666]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 12 February 2009]: The Department for Work and Pensions follows a robust process to verify an individual’s identity prior to providing access to benefits.

The Department accepts passports, including those passports held by citizens with dual nationalities, as well as birth certificates and a range of other supporting identity documentary evidence when assuring a person’s identity.

Social Security Benefits: Reform

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of drug users who would be liable to be required to (a) answer questions, (b) undertake substance-related assessment, (c) undertake relevant tasks and (d) undertake rehabilitation plans under the provisions of Schedule 1(a) of the Welfare Reform Bill during the first full year following its entry into force. [256245]

Mr. McNulty: We expect approximately 15 to 20 per cent. of new problem drug user claimants to flow through the pilots. This equates to 2,500-3,500 problem drug users each year. It is anticipated that a significant number of this group will participate in the key components of the new employment and support programme.

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State Retirement Pensions

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of basic state pension claim forms were processed within 60 days of receipt in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09 to date. [257099]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The answer is in the following table:

State pension clearance times
Target 2007-08 Ja nuary YTD( 1) 2008-09

Clear 95 per cent. of non-complex state pension claims within 60 days


Clear 91 per cent. of complex state pension claims within 85 days(2)


Clear at least 95 per cent. of new claims to state pension within 60 days(3)


(1) YTD—Year To Date
(2) Complex claims are claims to state pension from customers who have been widowed or divorced and the spouse's national insurance contributions are taken into consideration.
(3) Target changed in 2008-09.
Pension Service Legacy System (The 2008-09 figure should be considered to be indicative at this stage) and The Pension Service Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08.

Train to Gain Programme

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the written ministerial statement of 12 January 2009, Official Report, columns 2-4WS, on support for jobseekers, whether companies which had (a) made redundancies and (b) dismissed employees by the date of the Statement are eligible for (i) the funding and (ii) the recruitment subsidy. [254225]

Mr. McNulty: The Government’s intention is that the recruitment subsidy should not be available to companies which have dismissed or made redundant employees. We are currently in discussions with key stakeholders, including employers and unions about the details of the recruitment subsidy scheme and how it will operate.

All businesses in England which qualify for the recruitment subsidy will be able to access the Train to Gain funding.

Unemployed: Drugs

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what programmes his Department has to assist problem drug users to obtain jobs. [252131]

Mr. McNulty: Problem drug users on jobseekers allowance and incapacity benefit/employment and support allowance have access to mainstream employment programmes through the New Deals and Pathways to Work. In addition, recovering drug users have voluntary access to the Department's progress2work programme which supports around 12,500 people each year.

The Welfare Reform Bill includes provisions to introduce a new regime for problem drug users. This includes a new mandatory programme which will support problem drug users to make progress in addressing their drug use and any other barriers to work that they face.

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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in the UK were unemployed in accordance with the International Labour Organization definition of unemployment in each year since 1997. [255738]

Kevin Brennan: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated February 2009:

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