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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. 
Jonathan Shaw: My right hon. Friends 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.
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. 
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 individuals 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.
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.
These estimates have been calculated using the Policy Simulation Model (PSM) which uses data from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). Estimates are subject to sampling and modelling uncertainty.
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. 
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.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking, how many and what proportion of staff made redundant by Woolworth (a) accessed services and (b) found new work through the Jobcentre Plus rapid response service. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Staff in almost all of Woolworths 800 or so stores were offered support through the Rapid Response Service (RRS) before store closure. We do not record specific numbers of employees who are given advice and support through RRS.
We issued over 8,000 packs to enable people to make claims for benefit, and in many instances provided on-site advice on benefits. Our advice and support on jobsearch has also been available to Woolworths employees, not just in the run up to store closure but afterwards.
We do not attempt systematically to record job outcomes achieved for former employees of particular employers: to do so would be prohibitively expensive. Comprehensive information on the numbers of people made redundant from Woolworths who have found work through Jobcentre Plus is therefore unavailable. We have however noted many examples, throughout Britain of former Woolworths employees finding new jobs with Jobcentre Pluss help.
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
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. 
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.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people (a) received a
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. 
|Cautions||Convictions||Discharges||Fines||Community service||Suspended sentence||Custodial sentence|
|(1) Quarterly breakdown not available|
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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