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11 May 2009 : Column 571W—continued


Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to reply to the letter of 19 March 2009 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on Mr J. Harris. [273754]

Jonathan Shaw: My right hon. Friend’s letter of 19 March 2009 in respect of Mr. J. Harris was passed to the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills on 27 March 2009 as it concerned an area for which ministerial colleagues in that Department have responsibility. I apologise to my right hon. Friend for failing to keep him informed of this.

Pensioners: Social Security Benefits

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Northavon of 17 March 2009, Official Report, columns 1038-39W, on pensioners: social security benefits, what estimate he has made of the number of people who would receive more in benefits payments if tariff income rules were abolished and upper capital limits were retained. [265946]

Ms Rosie Winterton: With the abolition of tariff income rules for pension credit and housing benefit and council tax benefit (for those who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) while keeping the current upper capital limits in housing benefit and council tax benefit, approximately 710,000 pensioner households would receive higher income-related benefits at a cost of approximately £560 million (2009-10 prices) per year.

The tariff income rules are not intended to represent a rate of return that could be obtained from investing an individual’s capital. They are a simple method of calculating the weekly contribution that customers with capital in excess of £6,000 are expected to make to their normal living costs.

The Government believe it is right that people with capital should contribute towards their own living costs, and right that support is targeted on those that need it most. That is why the current rules ignore the first £6,000 of savings (£10,000 for those in care homes) and why those with savings above this are expected to contribute a small amount to their weekly expenses.


11 May 2009 : Column 572W

In the 2009 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the capital threshold for pension credit (and housing benefit and council tax benefit for those who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) will be increased from £6,000 to £10,000, bringing it into line with the threshold for those living permanently in care homes. This change will take effect from November 2009 and will allow these customers to retain up to £10,000 of capital before it affects their benefit. This change represents a generous increase in the capital thresholds for pension credit recipients and a significant simplification to the benefit. Half a million pensioners stand to gain from this change, with an average weekly gain across all benefits of £4.

With these new capital rules, around 480,000 pensioner households would receive higher income-related benefits at a cost of approximately £440 million (2009-10 prices) per year from the abolition of tariff income rules referred to in the question.

Redundancy: Woolworths

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of staff made redundant by Woolworth (a) accessed services and (b) have found new work through the Jobcentre Plus rapid response service. [266123]

Mr. McNulty: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

Social Security Benefits

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much and what proportion of the (a) number and (b) monetary value each type of
11 May 2009 : Column 573W
benefit payments made in each year since 1997 was (i) overpaid and (ii) underpaid due to (A) customer error, (B) official error, (C) fraud and (D) other reasons. [266184]

Mr. McNulty: The Department's strategy for measuring fraud and error focuses on providing estimates of the Monetary Value of Fraud and Error and does not provide estimates of the number of payments over or underpaid over a particular time period so this is not available. Estimates of the value and the percentage of expenditure for benefits that have been measured since1997 have been placed in the Library.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people (a) received a
11 May 2009 : Column 574W
caution and (b) were convicted in respect of an offence of benefit fraud in each quarter of the last five years for which figures are available; and how many of those convicted were dealt with by way of (i) a discharge, (ii) a fine, (iii) a community sentence, (iv) a suspended sentence, (v) a custodial sentence, (vi) a custodial sentence of more than six months and (vii) a custodial sentence of more than 12 months. [244732]

Mr. McNulty: Information broken down by the length of the custodial sentence is not available.

The available information for DWP administered benefits is in the following table.

Cautions Convictions Discharges Fines Community service Suspended sentence Custodial sentence

2003-04

Q1

2,209

2,393

742

559

677

26

1—

Q2

2,094

2,270

744

498

651

23

(1)

Q3

1,981

2,142

697

442

595

35

(1)

Q4

1,847

2,222

697

456

649

27

(1)

Total

8,131

9,027

2,880

1,955

2,572

111

590

2004-05

Q1

2,114

2,376

649

450

659

42

146

Q2

2,472

2,219

648

426

619

35

181

Q3

2,353

2,175

686

437

620

41

150

Q4

3,058

2,449

669

441

593

30

124

Total

9,997

9,219

2,652

1,754

2,491

148

601

2005-06

Q1

3,025

2,063

619

399

704

55

263

Q2

2,488

2,126

629

333

718

59

263

Q3

2,607

2,349

533

269

687

69

236

Q4

2,423

2,202

660

347

818

92

157

Total

10,543

8,740

2,441

1,348

2,927

275

919

2006-07

Q1

3,282

1,846

511

259

663

99

223

Q2

3,221

1,770

424

196

689

156

146

Q3

2,970

1,412

343

148

476

130

138

Q4

2,503

1,833

456

225

587

145

109

Total

11,976

6,861

1,734

828

2,415

530

616

2007-08

Q1

3,853

1,772

528

236

656

193

97

Q2

3,914

2,200

557

238

742

257

105

Q3

3,454

1,606

470

230

642

202

107

Q4

1,600

2,167

652

257

740

309

213

Total

12,821

7,745

2,207

961

2,780

961

522

(1) Quarterly breakdown not available
Sources:
1. Conviction data for England and Wales from DWP/DH Legal Group.
2. Conviction data for Scotland from FIBS & FRAIMS.
3. Cautions data from FIBS & FRAIMS.
4. Discharges, Fines, Community Service, Suspended Sentence and Custodial Sentence 2003-04 to 2006-07 data from FIBS & FRAIMS.
5. 2007-08 Discharges, Fines, Community Service, Suspended Sentence and Custodial Sentence data from DWP/DH Legal Group.

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