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Malcolm Wicks: Should the UK decide to enter the single currency, costs to the DWP will depend on the approach taken. Details of progress on DWP's euro preparations work were included in the Fifth Report on Euro Preparations, published in November 2001. The report is available in the Library.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the timetable for implementation of the new Child Support Agency maintenance laws; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: Changes to the child support scheme will take effect for new cases from April 2002. Existing cases will be transferred when the new scheme is working well, we expect this to be about a year later.
Malcolm Wicks: Plans are being developed to deal with any anticipated potential increase in the work load of the Independent Case Examiner arising from the introduction of the new child support scheme. Appropriate levels of resource will be determined as part of the planning process.
(37) Figures as at 25 January 2002
(38) Projected to 31 March 2002
(39) Projected expenditure to 31 March 2002
4 Feb 2002 : Column 759W
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 302W, on benefit fraud, if he will state the exact contract price of the new WAN service and its predecessor. 
4 Feb 2002 : Column 760W
The Department will receive a significantly improved service in the areas of service flexibility, performance, management information and security, and so position the Department to further modernise its IT in the future.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 12 December 2001, Official Report, column 899W, on the 2001 departmental report, how much and what proportion of the departmental unallocated provision has been used to meet unexpected funding. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the instances in which his Department, agencies and non-departmental public bodies failed to pay valid invoices within 30 days or after the agreed credit period in the financial year 200001. 
Mr. McCartney: The Department aims to pay all invoices within 30 days of receipt where no other contract exists. During 200001 in the former Department of Social Security of the 228,186 invoices paid there were 12,772 invoices not paid according to the prescribed timescalesthis means 94.4 per cent. were within target. Details for departmental agencies and bodies are listed below.
|Invoices paid||Invoices paid within target||Percentage of invoices paid within target||Invoices paid outside target||Percentage of invoices paid outside target|
|Child Support Agency||22,869||20,863||91.23||2,006||8.77|
|Independent Statutory Bodies||539||533||98.89||6||1.11|
|War Pensions Agency||3,612||3,581||99.14||31||0.86|
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many NHS patients were subject to hospital downrating of benefits in the last three years; what were the average delays in days between (a) their discharge from hospital and (b) their formal claim for restoration of benefit, and the first payment of such benefits; and what was the average delay from (i) discharge and (ii) claim to restoration of benefit for those experiencing the top decile of such delays. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department has (a) allocated and (b) spent on the fuel direct scheme in each of the last four years; how many people have benefited in each year; and how the scheme is promoted. 
Malcolm Wicks: Tackling fuel poverty is one of this Government's key priorities. A number of measures have been put in place to ensure that by 2010, no vulnerable household will have to struggle to heat their home when it is cold. These measures include the £200 winter fuel payment for households that qualify, cold weather payments, a cut in the level of VAT on fuel and radical improvements to the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme.
The fuel direct scheme provides valuable, last-resort protection against the threat of disconnection for people in receipt of income support and income-based jobseeker's allowance who are in arrears with their utility bills. Fuel companies generally make customers who have fallen into arrears aware of the scheme.
Information on the value of deductions from benefit under the fuel direct scheme is not available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. Information on the numbers of people benefiting from the scheme is in the table.
4 Feb 2002 : Column 761W
|Year||Number of people|
1. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample of all Income Support and income-based Jobseeker's Allowance recipients and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation.
2. The figures are an average, using quarterly data for each of the last 4 years, of the number of people with deductions.
Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiries, May 1997 to February 2001.
Jobseeker's Allowance Quarterly Statistical Enquiries, May 1997 to February 2001
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set out the basis for the statement by Baroness Hollis on 24 January 2002, Official Report, House of Lords, column 1642, regarding the proportion of men and women who receive the full basic state pension. 
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