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Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answers of 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 959W, 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 242W and 17 June 2002, Official Report, column 88W, on winter fuel payments, if he has concluded his discussions with the European Commission about the extent of the United Kingdom's legal obligations under European regulations on winter fuel payments; and if he will make a statement. 
23 Jul 2002 : Column 1035W
Mr. Andrew Smith: The 200102 annual reports and accounts for Benefits Agency (HC 929) and Employment Service (HC 955) which ceased to operate on the 31 March 2002 and those for The Appeals Service (HC1068) and Child Support Agency (HC 894) and have been laid before Parliament today.
Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many employers have contacted Employer Direct since it was introduced; and what measures have been taken to ensure that this initiative meets the needs of employers. 
As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the number of employers who have contacted Employer Direct since it was introduced and the measures that have been taken to ensure that this initiative meets the needs of employers. This falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.
Since the national implementation of Employer Direct on 26 January 2002 over 700,000 calls from employers have been received and nearly 600,000 vacancies notified.
During the development of Employer Direct there was wide ranging consultation with employers. This included the formation of a national group of employers in addition to discussion and liaison at local level.
In addition to taking employers' views in the development and roll out of Employer Direct we seek feedback from employers as a matter of course whenever they use the Employer Direct service.
I hope this is helpful.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance and specialist training is given to staff in benefits offices and jobcentres in dealing with people with learning difficulties; and if he will make a statement. 
23 Jul 2002 : Column 1036W
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what pilot schemes he will run to ensure that information and procedures given to benefit recipients will have been fully tested prior to the April 2003 deadline; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: There will be a phased introduction of different benefit types and customer volumes. This is aimed at reducing risk and operational complexity during the early part of the conversion period and will also be a way to test conversion processes and the information to be given to customers to ensure that it meets their needs.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals' personal data have been processed in data matching exercises in connection with benefit fraud; how many cases were identified as part of that data matching exercise as being possible cases of benefit fraud requiring further investigation; how many cases after investigation were deemed likely to be fraudulent; how many cases were prosecuted; what the total costs were of all data matching exercises, including staff and computer costs; and what the estimated total savings to the public purse are and the multiplier used in this calculation. 
Malcolm Wicks: Data-matching is a powerful tool in the detection of fraud and incorrectness in the benefit system. The Department's Matching Intelligence Data Analysis Service (MIDAS) operates the Generalised Matching Service (GMS) for benefits administered by the Department, and the Housing Benefit Matching Service (HBMS) for housing benefit and council tax benefit which are administered by local authorities.
The data-matching process involves data extracts being taken from the Department's main benefit computer systems and local authority benefit systems which are matched against each other using data matching "rules" to identify discrepancies between the data sets. Such discrepancies are then referred for local investigation. Legislation also provides for personal data held by other Government Departments to be matched against departmental and local authority data to identify discrepancies.
|Cautions and administrative penalties||(29)||(29)||(29)||(29)||288||2,417||2,497|
|Total overpayments(30) (£ million)||(29)||(29)||(29)||(29)||35.0||59.5||65.5|
|Total negative monetary value adjustment(31) (£ million)||(29)||(29)||(29)||(29)||1.9||2.5||3.0|
|Up to 1998||199899||19992000||200001||200102|
|Total overpayments(30) (£ million)||3.4||10.6||18.6||37.2||36.8|
|Weekly benefit savings x 32 weeks (£ million)||4.3||12.9||17.8||22.2||21.8|
(28) Cases where, following investigation, there was an increase or decrease in the rate of benefit because of fraud, customer error or official error.
(29) Information is not available.
(30) Arising from fraud, customer error or official error.
(31) Monetary Value Adjustment (MVA) is the difference between the weekly amount of benefit that would have been paid, or would have continued to be paid, and the benefit paid following the decision-maker's decision on the information gathered. MVA was introduced during the 19992000 financial year. Prior to the GMS recorded a Weekly Benefit Savings (WBS) figure that used a multiplier of 32 weeks. This method of recording savings was used by HBMS until 31 March 2002, after which it began to use MVA. Separate GMS figures for WBS and overpayments prior to 19992000 are not available.
(32) HBMS does not record sanctions information.
Matching Intelligence Detection Analysis Services management information.
23 Jul 2002 : Column 1037W
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) full time equivalents were employed by his press office and (b) secondees were placed in his press office in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 22 July 2002]: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed on 8 June 2001 from parts of the former Department of Social Security, parts of the former Department for Education and Employment and the Employment service,
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