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Mr. Nicholas Brown: We introduced changes to the treatment of occupational pensions in incapacity benefit last April. We believe it is right to take account of pensions which duplicate the purpose of incapacity benefit, which is to provide some replacement of earnings for people of working age. The 50 per cent. taper on pension income above £85 a week encourages and rewards personal provision.
The order would also provide for the extension of entitlement to invalid care allowance for up to eight weeks after the death of the person being cared for and a change in the name of the benefit to carer's allowance to reflect more closely the purpose of the benefit.
Maria Eagle: In autumn 2000 the Government announced a package of measures to enhance the current social security provision for carers, worth more than £500 million over a three year period. Two of the measures were implemented in April last year. The invalid care allowance (ICA) earnings limit was increased from £50 to £72 per week and the carer premium paid through the income-related benefits was increased from £14.15 to £24.40.
On 17 December 2001, we laid a draft regulatory reform order before Parliament. If accepted, this will give those aged over 65 the right to claim invalid care allowance for the first time; will provide for the extension of entitlement to ICA for up to eight weeks after the death of the person being cared for; and will change the name of the benefit to carer's allowance.
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Malcolm Wicks: We are getting to grips with social security fraud. We have set out our strategy for tightening up the system and ensuring that from the outset the right benefits are going to the right people.
We have introduced the Social Security Fraud Act 2001, which includes powers to improve fraud investigation and strengthen punishment for persistent offenders. We have increased the number of people sanctioned or prosecuted and we are working with local authorities to tackle housing benefit fraud and error.
Latest figures show that from our baseline period in 1998 to March 2001 we have reduced the level of fraud and error in income support and jobseeker's allowance by nearly 18 per cent. and we expect the good progress to continue.
Malcolm Wicks: It is not possible to estimate how many prosecutions have been authorised as a direct result of the Targeting Fraud campaign. However, more than 7,500 fraudsters have been successfully prosecuted since the campaign began.
We introduced employment zones specifically to help long-term unemployed people in deprived areas get and keep work. The performance of the 15 employment zones is encouraging. Early indications are that almost half of participants find work. We are currently evaluating the zones before deciding how to take the initiative further.
Action teams for jobs are helping jobless people in the most employment deprived areas in the country into work. By the end of their first year of operation (mid-October 2001), action teams had helped nearly 16,500 people into jobs. Earlier this month we increased the number of action teams from 53 to 63.
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Mr. McCartney: An estimated 150,000 people who reached age 60 before 25 December 2001 were not entitled to a payment for this winter, 200102. The reasons for this will have been either that they did not reach the age of 60 in or before the qualifying week, which was 1723 September 2001, or that one of the scheme's exclusions applied in their case.
Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people living in tenements in Scotland have received only half their winter fuel entitlement because of a computer error; what action is being taken to identify them; when he expects all such cases to be paid in full; and what steps he is taking to prevent the error recurring. 
Mr. McCartney: In order to ensure that the correct level of winter fuel payment is paid, the addresses of eligible people are matched. However, the Department is aware that there have been problems regarding people living in tenements in Scotland and, to alleviate this, the Department clerically matches the addresses in areas where there are many tenement flats. Figures are not available for tenements, but from over 11 million payments issued before Christmas, a total of 2,089 cases have been identified to date across Great Britain and Northern Ireland where the half rate payment has been applied in error. Where an underpayment has come to light, corrective action has been promptly taken.
30. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his oral answer of 10 December 2001, Official Report, column 578, on the Universal Bank, if he will make a statement on the progress of negotiations between the Post Office and its partners. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: People in former mining communities can benefit from the range of help available through their local Jobcentres. New deal programmes can help them gain new skills and advisers can help people find the job best suited to their circumstances.
Some former mining communities are also benefiting from becoming an employment zone or an area for one of the action teams for jobs. Both of these initiatives are focusing help on some of the most deprived areas of the country to provide people with the extra support they need to move from benefits into work.
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Malcolm Wicks: Details of the progress we are making in tackling child poverty can be found in our third annual report on poverty and social exclusion, "Opportunity for allmaking progress" (CM 5260), published on 19 September 2001.
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