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25 Mar 2010 : Column 420W—continued

Foreign Workers: EU Countries

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what mechanisms are in place to ensure the compliance with health and safety requirements of workers from EU member states working in the UK. [324096]

Jonathan Shaw: Under UK health and safety legislation, employers must provide a safe and healthy working environment for all workers under their control, including those from EU member states. Any workers from EU member states working as self-employed will also be subject to these requirements. Workers must take reasonable care for their own and others' health and safety at work, and cooperate with their employer to enable compliance. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities are responsible for enforcing the requirements in the majority of UK workplaces, and use inspection, investigation, enforcement, advice and guidance to secure compliance.

Pensioners: Social Security Benefits

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 20 July 2009, Official Report, columns 853-56W, on pensioners: social security benefits, what the average monetary value of benefits in kind provided to (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples in York in respect of (i) NHS services, (ii) social services, (iii) travel concessions, (iv) television licences, (v) insulation and home repairs and improvement grants and (vi) other services has been for periods later than those given in that answer for which information is available. [321694]

Angela Eagle: A wide range of services and benefits in kind are available to older people and these are administered both centrally and locally. As a result, the information is not available in the format requested: some information is not collected and some could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The information which is available is given as follows.

(i) NHS services

People aged 60 and over are able to claim free prescriptions and eye tests on the grounds of age. Detailed information on prescription charges is not held in the format requested.

In financial year 2008-09, 90,380 free NHS sight tests were given to people aged 60 and over within the North Yorkshire and York PCT area, costing an estimated £1,789,524.

There is no automatic entitlement for adult pensioners to NHS optical vouchers or free dental treatment. Individuals may qualify for these benefits if they are in receipt of certain qualifying benefits, or if they have been assessed as eligible for assistance under the NHS Low Income Scheme. Information on the value of such NHS services provided to patients of pensionable age who qualify on the basis of their personal economic circumstances is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

(ii) Social services

The gross current expenditure by York council on social services for people aged 65 or over for the financial year 2008-09 was £30.8 million(1).

(iii) Travel concessions

The statutory minimum travel concession, introduced in April 2008, gives those aged 60 or over and eligible disabled people free off-peak local bus travel in any part of England. The Government provide around £1 billion a year to fund the concession.

Travel concession schemes are provided through local authorities, which have flexibility to enhance their schemes to offer more than the statutory minimum, so there are local variations in what is offered and take-up of concessionary travel also varies from one area to another. Therefore it is not possible to quantify the value of the benefit in kind in a specific local authority area.

(iv) Television licences

Free television licences for people aged 75 or over were introduced in November 2000. TV Licensing, who administer free licences as agents for the BBC, are not able to provide geographical breakdowns of licences issued. However, figures are available for the number of households with at least one person aged 75 or over receiving winter fuel payments in York local authority. These people would be eligible for a free television licence. 12,180 households received winter fuel payments in York local authority in the year 2008-09.

The television licence fee for the year 2009-10 is £142.50 for a colour television licence, and £48.00 for a black and white television licence.

(v) Insulation

The Warm Front Scheme is the Government's main programme for tackling fuel poverty in vulnerable households in the private sector in England. Warm Front provides grants for heating, insulation and energy efficiency measures. For the year 2009-10, 132 single pensioner households and 100 two-pensioner households received Warm Front assistance in the York local authority area, and the average spend on each of those households was £1,870.08 and £1,675.20 respectively.

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Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what her latest estimate is of the monetary value of benefits paid fraudulently to prisoners in each of the last five years. [316399]

Helen Goodman: Fraud can occur when a person is sent to prison and they do not notify the Department. If this is the case there can be a short delay before benefit payments are stopped.

The Department matches its data with that held by the Ministry of Justice to identify prisoners who may still be in receipt of benefit. This data match now takes place weekly instead of four-weekly and we are detecting prisoner fraud more quickly than ever before, thus reducing the size of any overpayments.

Over the last five years this type of fraud has only arisen in income support. Fraudulent overpayments to prisoners have remained consistently low accounting for no more than an estimated 0.1 per cent of income support benefit expenditure.

The available information is in the table.

Estimated overpayments due to fraud by prisoners in each of the last five years

Amount of income support overpaid( 1) (£ million)











(1) Estimates of customer fraud committed by prisoners are collated and published only for income support, jobseeker's allowance and pension credit. The levels for jobseeker's allowance and pension credit were £0 million in each of the last five years. (2) Improvements to the methodology were introduced in 2005-06 which created a discontinuity between the estimates up to 2004-05 and from 2005-06 onwards. Therefore comparisons over time should be made with caution. Source: Published National Statistics Reports-Fraud and Error in the Benefit System.

Women and Equality

Departmental Lost Property

John Mason: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what property has been recorded as (a) lost and (b) stolen from the Government Equalities Office in the last 12 months; and what estimate has been made of the cost of the replacement of that property. [322086]

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Michael Jabez Foster: Over the past 12 months the Government Equalities Office has recorded two items as missing. The first item was a laptop with an estimated value of £2,000. The laptop cannot be used without a security key, which was not lost. The second item was a set of blank travel tickets with a nominal value of £4,000, which in practice could not have been used by others.

The Government Equalities Office has not recorded any items as stolen.

Departmental Surveys

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if she will place in the Library a copy of the benchmark results of the Civil Service People Survey for the Government Equalities Office. [322579]

Michael Jabez Foster: The Government Equalities Office (GEO) will be publishing its staff survey results as soon as practicable. Given the Department's small size, we need to give full and careful consideration to ensure in publishing results that individuals cannot be identified. Once the results are published on the GEO website, we will ensure a copy is placed in the Library.

Equality Bill

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what representations she has received on the ways in which the provisions of the Equality Bill affect the rights of the individual in respect of freedom of religion. [323479]

Michael Jabez Foster: My officials, colleagues and I have received a number of representations on a range of issues from both individuals and religion and belief organisations since the introduction of the Equality Bill in April last year.

The main issues raised were:

Such discussions and representations are ongoing as it is always important for Government to maintain a dialogue.

International Women's Day

Anne Main: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what plans the Government have to mark International Women's Day. [320953]

Maria Eagle: The Government are marking International Women's Day in a number of ways:

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In addition, individual Departments undertook the following to coincide with International Women's Day:

The Government Equalities Office published:

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

The Department for Schools, Children and Families :

The Home Office:

The Department for International Development (DFID):

Prime Minister

Charlie Whelan

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister on what date Charlie Whelan first attended his morning meetings at Downing street; and how many such meetings he has attended since that date. [324187]

The Prime Minister: I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a range of subjects.

Intelligence and Security Committee

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the contribution of the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of 18 March
25 Mar 2010 : Column 424W
2010, Official Report, column 997, on Intelligence and Security Committee, if he will hold discussions with the Chairman on whether the Committee's staff have had their own careers put in jeopardy; and if he will make a statement. [324282]

The Prime Minister: I have met and corresponded with the ISC and its Chairman on several occasions over the past year to discuss a range of matters of mutual interest, and will continue to do so.

House of Commons Commission


Mr. Chope: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission (1) when the application for planning permission for change of use in connection with the proposed creation of a day nursery at 1 Parliament Street was submitted; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the application; [324260]

(2) when the application for listed building consent in connection with the proposed creation of a day nursery at 1 Parliament street was submitted; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the application. [324263]

Nick Harvey: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave on 23 March 2010, Official Report, column 170W.

Mr. Chope: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what estimate the House of Commons Commission has made of the extent to which charges for places in the proposed day nursery at 1 Parliament street will meet the costs of its provision; and what the weekly subsidy per place is for which the Commission has budgeted in 2010-11. [324261]

Nick Harvey: The commercial competition for a nursery operator is currently in progress which will provide information relevant to the operating costs for the nursery. In order to avoid undermining the House's position in the commercial competition, it is not possible to disclose any further information at this stage. According to childcare experts, there is likely to be a build up of usage over a period: the average use of the first 12 months of a new nursery is likely to be around 40 per cent. The intention in the longer term is to recover the full operating costs through the charges made to users.

Mr. Chope: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the closing date is for the receipt of tenders from day nursery operators for the contract to run a day nursery at 1 Parliament Street; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the specification for the contract. [324264]

Nick Harvey: The deadline for the receipt of tenders from nursery operators was Friday 19 March 2010. A copy of the specification for the contract will be placed in the Library.

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