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Benefit Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the cost in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 of the (i) Integrated Enquiry Service, (ii) Shared Fraud Hotline, (iii) local authority departmental information teams and (iv) overpayment recoveries in respect of housing benefit. [19009]

Malcolm Wicks: These initiatives made up the housing benefit improvement programme, the purpose of which was to contribute to improving housing benefit and council tax benefit administration. During the life of the programme, strong links were established with local authority managers and staff that will continue to develop as the recommendations from the programme are taken forward. These relationships have contributed to a greater understanding of the local authority information requirements, and the introduction of a standard set of procedures that will help deliver improvements to the recovery of housing benefit and council tax benefit overpayments.

The information on costs is in the table:

Housing benefit improvement programme expenditure

Integrated Enquiry Service557,000(9)309,000
Shared Fraud Hotline78,000(9)57,000
Local Authority/Benefits Agency Information Flow Project24,0000
Housing Benefit Overpayment Recovery Project64,000(9)819,000

(8) Outturn

(9) Forecast


Figures are rounded to nearest £1,000


Housing Benefit Improvement Programme budget

Mental Health

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research the Government have conducted on the health impact on mental health service users of the implementation of his Department's benefits policies. [20231]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: A major goal of the Government are to help those people who are sick or disabled who can work to do so, while providing security for those who cannot work. This group includes people with mental health problems, whether they use mental health services or not. The Department for Work and Pensions consults with service users to ensure that relevant research informs new ideas and policy implementation.

The Office for National Statistics published a report on the Psychiatric Morbidity of Adults carried out on behalf of the Department of Health on 18 December. The main aim of the survey was to estimate the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity among adults aged 16 to 74 living

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in private households in Great Britain. The survey report also examines the use of services associated with mental disorder and considers the characteristics—including economic activity—of people with mental disorder.

A longitudinal follow up to that survey is planned for 2002 and aims to estimate the duration of mental health problems. The study will also involve some follow-up work on use of services.

Departmental Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will commission and publish an independent report on the reasons for the level of sickness absence in his Department. [26999]

Mr. McCartney: We have no plans to publish an independent report on the reasons for absence in the Department.

The Cabinet Office already commissions and publishes an independent annual report covering all Government Departments; "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". This report includes details of the causes of absenteeism in my Department.

The report for the year 2000, will be published shortly.



Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she expects to respond to the consultation on the impact of NETA on small generators. [26601]

Mr. Wilson: The Government are analysing and considering responses to their consultation carefully. The Department of Trade and Industry will be issuing a response shortly.

Departmental Expenditure

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 17 December 2001, Official Report, column 473W, on departmental expenditure, what estimate she has made of the savings produced by refinancing; over what period of time she expects these to be realised and under which vote; and if she will make a statement. [26080]

Ms Hewitt: The refinancing programme to date is estimated to generate £75 million of savings. The majority of the savings will be realised over the next five years, but will continue until 2018.

The relevant vote is the Export Credits Guarantee Department Request for Resources 1.

Former Miners

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations (a) she and (b) her Department has received on allowing former miners, who were sacked in the 1980s, access to their pension funds. [27606]

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Mr. Wilson: None. All former British Coal miners when reaching pensionable age, whether dismissed or not, have access to the pension benefits they have accrued while in employment.

I announced on 11 December 2001, Official Report, columns 759–60W, that certain miners dismissed during the 1984–85 strike would receive an enhancement to their pension in recognition of the years of further service they lost as a result of British Coal's decision not to re-employ them.

Environmental Reports

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) multinational companies with bases in Scotland and (b) Scottish companies had published environmental reports by 31 December 2001. [27272]

Mr. Wilson: While the Government are keen to encourage companies to report, it is not mandatory to do so. There is, therefore, no central register of which companies report.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total level was of Government financial support to the renewable energy sector in each year between 1980 and 1990 broken down by (a) research grants, (b) non-fossil fuel levy and (c) other sources. [27456]

Mr. Wilson: Main Government financial support for the renewable energy sector between 1980 and 1990 was in the form of research grants from the then Department of Energy's New and Renewable Energy Research and Development Programme. Programme spend was as follows:

£ million

During these years, the Government may also have funded some other relevant research projects managed by the research councils, but to identify these projects now would be difficult and would involve disproportionate cost.

The Non Fossil Fuel Obligation and the Fossil Fuel Levy supporting it were introduced in financial year 1990–91. In 1990–91, levy support for renewable energy was £6.1 million. I am not aware of funding for renewable energy from other Government sources from 1980 to 1990.

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Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the projects and institutions benefiting from the Lottery money announced by the Government in March 2001 for research into renewable energy projects. [25888]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 15 January 2002]: Funding from the Lottery is being directed especially towards the development of the offshore wind energy and energy crops industries. The offshore wind energy scheme is now open for applications and we are presently working up the details of the energy crops scheme. No funds have yet been awarded under either scheme.

Wind Turbines

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much she has allocated for grant aid to farmers in siting small scale wind power generators on their land; and how much has been issued under this grant scheme to date; [27277]

Mr. Wilson: The Government believe that the financial incentive provided by the Renewables Obligation and exemption from the climate change levy will be sufficient to bring forward new onshore wind projects without the requirement for further financial support from Government.

The Renewables Obligation will succeed the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO). Between 1990 and 1998 302 wind projects were awarded NFFO contracts, of which 74 had commissioned by 30 September 2001. The Electricity from Non-Fossil Fuel Sources (Locational Flexibility) Order 2001 which was made in December will enable a number of those projects which have yet to commission to come forward and a number of these are likely to be on agricultural land.

I was pleased to launch on 28 August 2001 an innovative new service, operated by National Wind Power Ltd., to help farmers and landowners to develop small wind energy projects typically comprising one, two or three turbines. The WindWorks package has been developed to provide farmers with the financial rewards associated with ownership of a wind energy project while avoiding exposure of farmers and landowners to new financial risks at a time when great uncertainty exists in the farming industry and rural economy. More detail on WindWorks can be found at: windworks/index.htm.

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