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Post Office Banking Facilities

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans the Government have to persuade banks which have not already done so to offer cheque clearing facilities at post offices without charges; and if he will make a statement. [70555]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

These are matters which fall within the day-to-day responsibility of Post Office Ltd. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Benefit Sanctions

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many claimants had benefits sanctioned for failure to comply with a community service order in the last 12 months; what the sanction was; and over how long it operated, broken down by sex of claimant; [67729]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 4 July 2002]: We have taken powers in the Social Security Fraud Act 2001 to strengthen benefit fraud investigation and punish persistent offenders more severely. The provision to sanction people convicted of two separate benefit fraud offences in a three year period came into force on 1 April 2002, and can be applied only to people who commit two separate benefit offences after that date. It is therefore too early for this new sanction to have been applied in practice.

The new community sentence and benefits measures are being piloted in four probation service areas from 15 October 2001. We are giving a clear message to offenders that their rights to benefits must be matched by the responsibility to comply with their community sentence orders. Sanctions are applied when people receiving a relevant benefit are found by a court to be in breach of their orders. The sanction lasts for a maximum period of four weeks.

The available information is in the tables.

Benefit sanctions for failure to comply with a community service
order by gender Percentage

FemaleMale
JSA (100 sanction)1069
IS (40 sanction)2127
IS (20 sanction)12
Total number of people sanctioned 3298

Notes:

1. All figures are unrounded.

2. Figures include a small number of people who have been sanctioned more than once.

3. Data are from clerical returns received at the DWP Information Centre between 15 October 2001 and 28 June 2002, and relate to the period 15 October 2001 to 7 June 2002.

4. There are four probation service pilot areas: Derbyshire, Hertfordshire, Teesside and West Midlands.

5. IS recipients have their benefit entitlement reduced, depending on the circumstances of the individual or family unit, by either 40 per cent. or 20 per cent. of the single person's personal allowance. Those in receipt of JSA incur the withdrawal of the whole of their benefit but may apply for a hardship payment.


Jobseeker's Allowance: fixed-period sanctions—October 1996 to March 2002

October 1996 to March 1997April 1997 to March 1998April 1998 to March 1999April 1999 to March 2000April 2000 to March 2001April 2001 to March 2002
Refused/failed to carry out Jobseeker's Direction2151,0272,2187,2775,5423,819
Refusal of place on training scheme/employment programme6161,1083801,335838308
Giving up place on training scheme/employment programme8812,6313,8886,1464,2362,859
Neglect to avail of place on training scheme/employment programme1,2461,7145271,089956144
Losing place on training scheme/employment programme1831,0492,2225,6716,4656,178
Failure to attend place on training scheme/employment programme14,52833,2087,02812,63717,65219,493

Notes:

1. The data refer to the number of sanctions applied; data are not collected on the number of individuals sanctioned. An individual may receive more than one sanction in the course of a year.

2. Separate data on whether income-based or contribution based Jobseeker's Allowance is in payment at the time the sanction is imposed are not collected.

3. Data on the length of sanction applied are not available.

Source:

Employment Service Labour Market Statistics, Analysis of Adjudication Officers' Decisions/Sector Decision Making, for years ending 31 March 1997 to 31 March 2002.


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Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions October 1996 to March 2002

October 1996 to March 1997April 1997 to March 1998April 1998 to March 1999April 1999 to March 2000April 2000 to March 2001April 2001 to March 2002
Losing employment through misconduct7,15522,35722,68218,88816,43015,939
Leaving employment voluntarily36,573109,994103,20686,22685,96573,186
Refusal of employment4,09821,90611,11819,16926,37038,216
Neglect to avail of employment86244146855752
Others24,78040,74916,26834,16335,69432,807
Totals (all sanction questions)72,692195,250153,420158,531164,516160,200

Notes:

1. The data refer to the number of sanctions applied; data are not collected on the number of individuals sanctioned. An individual may receive more than one sanction in the course of a year.

2. Data are not collected by gender, age or length of sanction.

Source:

Employment Service Labour Market Statistics, Analysis of Adjudication Officers' Decisions/Sector Decision Making, for years ending 31 March 1997 to 31 March 2002.


The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has fallen from 2,002,400 in October 1996 to 947,600 in March 2002.

Jobseeker's Allowance: Sanctions under the New Deal for Young People (NDYP)

Reason for sanctionNumber applied
Leaving option voluntarily12,932
Misconduct16,835
Refusal of option1,983
Neglect to avail of option1,864
Failing to attend option23,679
Total57,293

Notes:

1. The data refer to the number of sanctions applied; data are not collected on the number of individuals sanctioned. Some individuals may have received more than one sanction.

2. Figures cover the period from the introduction of NDYP on 1 April 1998 to 31 March 2002.

3. Data are not available by length of sanction or by gender.

4. There is no 52 week sanction.

5. NDYP options are: subsidised employment option; voluntary sector option; further education and training option; and environmental task force.

Source:

Decision Making and Appeals Computer System


Correspondence

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the CSA will reply to the letter of 28 May from the hon. Member for Walsall, North regarding a constituent, ref. 1040714323. [69258]

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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 July 2002]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Doug Smith to Mr. David Winnick, dated 22 July 2002:


The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in replying to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency promised a substantive reply by me.
You ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will provide a substantive reply from myself to your letter of 28th May regarding constituent ref. 1040714323.
I apologise for the long delay in replying to this letter. My reply was sent on 10 July.


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