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Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many retirement pensioners are receiving the minimum income guarantee in (a) Great Britain, (b) each region of Great Britain and (c) each parliamentary constituency. [145110]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 15 January 2001]: The information has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the administration costs of the minimum income guarantee have been for each year for which figures are available. [146089]

Mr. Rooker: Administration costs for the minimum income guarantee (MIG), which is paid through income support, are not collated separately from other forms of income support.

Social Security Budget

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much of the social security budget was spent in Scotland, broken down by the expenditure headings of the departmental budget, in the last three years. [145675]

Mr. Rooker: The information has been placed in the Library.

Pensioners

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of pensioners (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) in Scotland live in a low-income household. [145676]

Mr. Rooker: Definition of low income households vary. Such information as is available can be found in the Households Below Average Income 1994-95 to 1998-99 and the Annex to the Scottish Social Justice Annual Report 2000, copies of which are held in the Library.

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has for separating work relating to pensioners in Benefits Agency offices from work relating to other clients. [145109]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 15 January 2001]: Providing a service more tailored to the requirements of the different groups of customers served by the DSS is a top priority for my Department.

I have already ensured that policy functions at the DSS are divided into three distinct divisions: children, pensioners and working age. This change has produced a greater focus in the Department's work on its three separate customer groups and their very different needs.

As the next stage in the process I am setting up a new pensions organisation--with responsibility for everything from policy development to front-line service delivery. Today's and tomorrow's pensioners will receive a distinct and responsive service, dedicated to their needs, that uses modern technology to provide the most up-to-date delivery of benefits and advice.

In parallel--as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced--my Department is working with the Department for Education and Employment to establish a new working age agency. This will bring together the

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Employment Service and those parts of the Benefits Agency which currently deal with people of working age. The new agency will have a clear focus on work--providing advice, support and assistance to help those who can work back into jobs.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he proposes to take to ensure that everyone has an adequate supplementary pension over and above the state pension. [145914]

Mr. Rooker: We are taking a number of steps to ensure as many people as possible retire with a decent second pension on top of their basic state pension.

In April this year, we will introduce stakeholder pensions which will increase access to private pensions for people on middle incomes who do not have access to good occupational pension schemes. In addition, in 2002, we plan to introduce the state second pension, which will result in around 18 million people building up bigger second pensions than they would have got from SERPS, including certain carers and disabled people who are currently excluded from additional pension altogether.

We have announced plans to introduce a new pension credit which will reward savings. These changes will be supported by improving pensions education, including advertising to raise awareness about pensions issues, and an improved pensions forecasting service to ensure people of working age are in a position to make informed choices about saving for their retirement.

Far East Prisoners of War

Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many former Far-East prisoners of war residing in (a) Renfrewshire and (b) Scotland have made applications to the War Pensions Agency for compensation; and when they will receive the compensation. [144502]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. We expect to start sending out ex-gratia payments at the beginning of February.

Family Income (Benefits)

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Alexander) of 11 January 2001, Official Report, column 607W, on family incomes, if he will revise the table to include those families dependent on (a) family income supplement, (b) family credit and (c) working families tax credit. [146012]

Mr. Bayley: Information on family income supplement is not available in the format requested. However, information on the number of families receiving family income supplement is in the table.

Number of families receiving Family Income Supplement,
Great Britain 1978-79 to 1987-88

Number of families (000)
1978-7978
1979-8086
1980-81110
1981-82139
1982-83182
1983-84202
1984-85199
1985-86201
1986-87218
1987-88213

Note:

1. Family Income Supplement was replaced by Family Credit in April 1988

2. Figures are at March of each year


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Children in families receiving Family Credit,
Great Britain 1988-99

Number of children (000)Proportion of children under 16 in Great Britain (%)
1988388.53.5
1989591.65.3
1990629.95.6
1991691.26.1
1992772.76.8
1993923.48.0
19941,044.29.0
19951,141.59.8
19961,291.811.1
19971,396.411.9
19981,428.312.2
19991,462.112.5

Notes:

1. Numbers are given at a point in time of May each year

2. Children are defined as aged 0-15

3. Number are based on a 5 per cent. sample data and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error

4. Caseload figures for 1988 to 1990 are not completely accurate and they therefore may be a slight underestimate

Source:

Family Credit Statistics Quarterly Enquiries, May 1988-May 1999


Children in families receiving Working Families' Tax Credit, Great Britain, 2000

Number of children (000)Proportion of children under 16 in Great Britain (%)
2000 (May)1,856.915.9
2000 (August)1,976.116.9

Notes:

1. Numbers are given at a point in time. Two sets of information are given for 2000: May and August, which is the latest available date

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred and are expressed in thousands

3. Working Families' Tax Credit replaced Family Credit in October 1999

4. Children are defined as aged 0-15 at the application date

5. Numbers are based on a 1 in 20 sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error


Duplicate Payments

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the audit investigation into the computer error in October 1999 that led to £1.32 million worth of duplicate Income Support payments; [146010]

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Mr. Bayley: Our latest estimate suggests the losses were slightly more than half the initial estimate. The cause of the problem was identified and a computer fix was implemented in February 2000. Because the losses to individuals were relatively small, recovery was deemed not to be cost-effective.

Poverty

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the Government will set a timetable for the elimination of poverty in the UK. [146021]

Mr. Bayley: Our strategy for tackling poverty is set out in the annual publication "Opportunity for All", the second volume of which was published on 21 September and called "Opportunity for All One Year On: Making a Difference".


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