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Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Social Fund limits were last increased; and if he will make a statement as to when he next expects them to be increased. 
Malcolm Wicks: The gross national budget for social fund loans and grants is decided in time for allocations to be made to each district from 1 April each year. The setting and allocation of the 200203 budget has already taken place. At £627 million, the April 2002 budget represents an increase of £6.4 million over the budget set in April 2001. The size of the gross national budget will be reviewed against next year.
Mr. McCartney: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001 and figures have been supplied from employment services and DSS legacy systems. Information for earlier years is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
2 May 2002 : Column 982W
|31 December 1998||139,820|
|31 December 1999||131,539|
|31 December 2000||130,799|
|31 December 2001||134,489|
Malcolm Wicks: 367 of the 408 local authorities administering housing benefit, representing 90 per cent. of the total, use the official "Do Not Redirect" scheme, stopping housing benefit fraudsters claiming from a false address. Some authorities have established similar
2 May 2002 : Column 983W
Malcolm Wicks: There are no plans to disregard child benefit in the calculation of entitlement to income related benefits. Although the Government have not changed the way that entitlement to income support and income based jobseeker's allowance is calculated, low income families have gained substantially from increases in the allowances for children in these benefits. For example, a couple on income support with two children under the age of 11 is £2,000 a year better off in real terms than they would have been in 1997.
Further, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced recently, we plan to increase the child allowances in the income related benefits by a further £3.50 per week from October 2002.
In the longer term, the new child tax credit, to be introduced from April 2003 will build on the foundations of the universal child benefit to provide a seamless system of support for low income families. It will replace the children's allowances in income support and income based jobseeker's allowance and these benefits will no longer be affected by payments of child benefit. The child tax credit will, alongside child benefit, provide child support of £54.25 a week for the first child in families with an income of less than £13,000 a year.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of claims for incapacity benefit were unsuccessful in each of the last three years for which figures are available. 
|Percentage of unsuccessful IB claims as a proportion of claims received|
|1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000(23)||51|
|1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001||51|
|1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002||52|
(23) The underlying data for the period 1 April 1999 to 31 May 1999 only include claims that were unsuccessful because they failed the contribution test. The underlying data from 1 June 1999 onwards include claims that were unsuccessful because they failed the contribution test or were withdrawn, and claims where no medical evidence was received or where the person claimed while living abroad in a country which does not have a reciprocal social security agreement.
1. People whose IB claims are unsuccessful can go on the receive national insurance credits only.
2. The number of unsuccessful IB claims may refer to a slightly different time period to the number of claims received.
The underlying data are taken from 100 per cent. counts supplied by the Department's Central Data Unit.
2 May 2002 : Column 984W
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed incapacity benefit in the York and North Yorkshire area in (a) 1997, (b) 1999, (c) 2000 and (d) 2001. 
|31 August 1997||4,700||14,300|
|31 August 1999||4,500||14,000|
|31 August 2000||4,800||13,900|
|31 August 2001||4,900||14,600|
(24) North Yorkshire includes Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby.
Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
Figures are taken from a 5 per cent. sample of the incapacity benefit computer system and exclude a small number of cases held clerically.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information he has concerning the total number of vacancies which arise annually for higher level skilled employees in the information and communications technology sector; what estimate he has made of the number of those positions which are filled by overseas applicants; and what plans he has to address these issues. 
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by what means Employment Services assess the costs required to provide different kinds of training in allocating funds to new deal for young people training providers. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The national funding rates for new deal for young people training provision are based on they type, length and occupational area covered by that provision. The rates are banded by occupational area to allow for higher payments for more expensive training. The amounts paid are based on historical data and the rates are broadly consistent with those of the Learning and Skills Council.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of the implementation of formula funding on the general level of funds available to training providers. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The introduction of formula funding for new deal provision has not created an additional restriction on the overall level of funds available to individual training providers. Subject to their satisfactory performance, the majority of providers will receive levels of income similar to those they received
2 May 2002 : Column 985W
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) when the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency will send a substantive reply to the letter of 29 January from my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) concerning his constituent, Andrew Palmer of East Tilbury; 
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