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Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what information his Department has collated on the performance of IT Net in delivering housing benefit contracts; and if he will place it in the Library. 
Angela Eagle: Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to administer the Housing Benefit scheme even when some administrative tasks are contracted out. While this Department continues to monitor the performance of local authorities through the programme of inspections by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI), we do not collate information on the performance of individual contractors. The BFI's report on the London borough of Islington was published on 11 December and a copy has been placed in the Library.
Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in how many cases over the past five years the War Pensions Agency defended appeals from nuclear test veterans to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal; and at what cost. 
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many men who have become eligible for the winter fuel payments this year but are not due backdated payments have been notified of their entitlement. 
Payments have already been issued to those where we have been able to establish a clear entitlement through the benefit computer system. However, the majority of this group will need to make a claim for their payment, but we cannot make them claim. An information campaign has been running since April which aims to ensure that people know what action they may need to take.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many men have become eligible for the winter fuel payments this year; how many have received it; and how many have not yet received it. 
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the impact on an individual's ability to claim the winter fuel allowance of being in full-time employment after the age of 60 years. 
Mr. Rooker: Following the European Court of Justice ruling on the case of Taylor, in December 1999, we decided to equalise the age--at 60--from which winter fuel payments could be made. If we had equalised the age at 65, around 1 million women would have missed out.
To enable payments to be made from age 60 it was also necessary to remove the need to be in receipt of state retirement pension. Therefore payments are made to those entitled regardless of whether they are getting a social security benefit or whether they are in employment.
Targets for the performance of the Department's customer helplines are as listed:
National benefit fraud hotline
The line has an agreement to answer 99 per cent. of all calls offered.
CSA National enquiry line (CSA NEL)
80 per cent. of calls to NEL and client helplines (CHL) to be answered first time;
80 per cent. of all calls to NEL/CHL to be answered within 20 seconds;
95 per cent. of callbacks promised by the Agency to be made on the working day of request;
No more than 20 per cent. of calls to be abandoned by the caller;
95 per cent. of customers surveyed on quality callbacks (following contact with NEL, client helplines and face-to-face) to be at least satisfied with the service they have received.
Benefit enquiry line (BEL) and customer care helpline
Both lines have a target of aiming to answer calls within 60 seconds.
War pensions helpline
The helpline has a target of answering all calls within 30 seconds. In addition it has its own internal target of answering 70 per cent. of all calls offered.
Public enquiry office
To answer telephone calls from members of the public in an efficient and polite manner, ensuring calls are answered within 8 rings, where practical.
To ensure that the average clearance of numbers of calls completed is at least 65 per cent. of calls offered in any given month.
Child benefit centre
The current target for Child Benefit Teleservice is to take 42,000 calls per week or be at least 90 per cent. effective.
Minimum income guarantee helpline
Winter fuel payment leaflet order line
Winter fuel payments helpline
New deal for lone parents helpline
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Mortgage protection line
Welfare reform order line
The inherited SERPS scheme helpline
The above helplines are contracted out to commercial organisations through the Central Office of Information (COI). All are covered by the COI standard conditions of contract, performance criteria. These are:
Unless otherwise agreed in Annexe C or Annexe D to the Contract, the following minimum levels of performance are expected as comprising satisfactory service on campaigns:
(ii) On live operator services, calls to be answered at least 85 per cent. of the time by a live operator on the first attempt by the caller. (To be monitored through BT stats). Where automated overflow is provided the Contractor should ensure that this is minimised.
(iii) On automated operator services, calls to be answered at least 95 per cent. of the time on the first attempt by the caller. (To be monitored through BT stats).
(iv) Telephone calls to be answered within a maximum of 5 rings (COI accepts that the nature of the business means that the number of rings will vary, but requires the Contractor to ensure that this standard is achieved as far as is practicable).
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list for each financial year from 1998-99 until the latest date for which sums have been allocated, the amount his Department has spent and expects to spend on the implementation of the White Paper on Modernising Government. 
Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many people in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK, who have previously been awarded a life award of Disability Living Allowance have had their Disability Living Allowance (i) discontinued and (ii) downgraded, following a review, and thereafter reinstated to the original position following an appeal in each year since 1993; 
|Year||All awards||Awards including highest ratecare or higher rate mobility component|
(55) The term 'life award' is a misnomer since such awards have always been subject to change on review if entitlement changes and are not therefore payable for life. A clarification, introduced by the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999, provides that such awards are now described as 'for an indefinite period' instead of, as previously 'for life'.
(56) Reviews include reconsiderations and supersessions under the new system of decision making and appeals introduced from October 1999.
(57) Figures for 1994 to 1999 are for the 12 months ending 30 November; those for 2000 are for the six months ending 31 May.
1. Information is available only for cases where a review has resulted in a reduction in the award. This gives estimates, based on sampling, of the numbers of life and indefinite awards reduced following a review. The small numbers mean that these estimates are broad and subject to relatively large margins of error.
2. These figures are for Great Britain. Social Security in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and discrete information for Scotland is not available.
DSS Information Centre: 5 per cent. data.
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