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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of cases dealt with by the appeals service had not been resolved after six months or more in each year since 199697. 
The appeals service is committed to a twin strategy of reducing waiting times and clearing the backlog of older cases that accrue. It has made a determined effort to tackle older cases based on its policy of "first in, first out". Wherever possible, cases are cleared at first hearing (current waiting times from receipt of the appeal in the appeal service to first hearing are 13.6 weeks).
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 19 July 2001, Official Report, column 414W, to the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field), how much was contributed to non-state pensions in each year between 1992 and 1998 adjusted in each case to 1997 price terms. 
Mr. McCartney: The figures for all years from 1992 are set out in the table. The figures show that there has been sustained growth in contributions to non-state pensions. The figures suggest that the stable economy has created the right conditions to save, and that our policies to encourage higher levels of private saving are having a positive effect.
1. All figures rounded to nearest £ billion. Figures for 1999 and 2000 are included to illustrate the continuing trend in saving.
2. These totals differ slightly in some years from figures previously released. This reflects differences in the methodology used.
MQ5 Survey, ONS, adjusted to 1997 prices
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the level of the capital rules if they had been uprated in line with (a) prices and (b) earnings, since May 1997. 
Mr. McCartney: The estimated levels of the capital rules if they had been uprated in line with (a) prices and (b) earnings since 1997 are shown in the table. The lower capital limit for the minimum income guarantee was doubled from £3,000 to £6,000 in April 2001. The upper limit of £8,000 was increased to £12,000 at the same time.
|IS/JSA/HB Lower Limit||3,000||3,000||3,000||3,000||3,000|
|IS Upper Limit||8,000||8,000||8,000||8,000||8,000|
|MIG Lower limits||3,000||3,000||3,000||3,000||6,000|
|MIG Upper limit||8,000||8,000||8,000||8,000||12,000|
|Social Fund (60 or over)||1,000||1,000||1,000||1,000||1,000|
|Social Fund (under 60)||500||500||500||500||500|
|HB/CTB upper limit||16,000||16,000||16,000||16,000||16,000|
23 Nov 2001 : Column: 537W
|MIG/IS/HB Lower limits||3,000||3,072||3,137||3,187||3,238|
|MIG/IS Upper limit||8,000||8,192||8,364||8,498||8,634|
|Social Fund (60 or over)||1,000||1,024||1,046||1,062||1,079|
|Social Fund (under 60)||500||512||523||531||540|
|HB/CTB upper limit||16,000||16,384||16,728||16,996||17,268|
|MIG/IS/HB Lower limits||3,000||3,120||3,298||3,450||3,584|
|MIG/IS Upper limit||8,000||8,320||8,794||9,199||9,558|
|Social Fund (60 or over)||1,000||1,040||1,099||1,150||1,195|
|Social Fund (under 60)||500||520||550||575||597|
|HB/CTB upper limit||16,000||16,640||17,588||18,398||19,115|
Social Fund Limits apply only to discretionary payments
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 19 July 2001, Official Report, column 418W, on the Benefits Agency Medical Services, what contract targets have been laid down; and what his assessment is of the performance of SchlumbergerSema measured against these targets. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The contract with SchlumbergerSema contains numerous targets relating to the volume, timeliness, and quality of medical reports; to customer service standards; and to training of doctors. The Government set four targets, relating to quality, training, and customer service, in their response [Cm 4780] to the Social Security Select Committee's report on medical services.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures he is implementing to provide Benefits Agency staff with training in issues relating to housing benefit; and how he intends to improve the recovery of overpayments of housing benefit. 
23 Nov 2001 : Column: 538W
In June 2000, in order to promote improved benefit administration in local authorities, the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate produced a good practice guide, a copy of which was issued to each local authority. This is based on tried and tested practice in better-performing authorities. The guide includes a section on overpayment recovery, covering the prevention and identification of overpayments as well as options for recovery.
In June 2001 we introduced streamlined procedures for local authorities to recover housing benefit overpayments from prescribed social security benefits administered by the Benefits Agency. These procedures apply in cases where housing benefit is no longer in payment. Local authorities have been given guidance about the types of cases they should refer and new simplified referral forms have been introduced.
The new procedures ensure that both the Benefits Agency and local authorities are operating standard referral and recovery procedures. They also provide tighter control of the recovery process and are being actively monitored to ensure their effectiveness.
23 Nov 2001 : Column: 539W
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many consultation documents were issued by his Department from (a) 15 October to 14 January, (b) 15 January to 14 April, (c) 15 April to 14 July and (d) 15 July to 14 October in each year from 1996. 
|Date||Number of consultation documents issued|
|15 January to 14 April 2000||1|
|15 April to 14 July 2000||1|
|15 July to 14 October 2000||4|
|15 October 2000 to 14 January 2001||3|
|15 January to 14 April 2001||1|
|15 April to 14 July 2001||0|
|15 July to 14 October 2001||8|
|15 October 2001 to 14 January 2002(8)||2|
(8) As at 22 November 2001
1. The table includes consultation documents issued by the former Department of Social Security and the former Department for Education and Employment
2. Further information on these consultation documents can be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/index.htm
Information on consultation documents issued by the former Department of Social Security from 1996 to August 2000, and by the former Department for Education and Employment from 1996 to July 1997, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the reports the Government have published since 1997 evaluating the effectiveness of the welfare reform programme. 
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