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Council Tax Benefit

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will alter the formula for calculating interest on capital in determining an individual's eligibility for Council Tax Benefit so that it more accurately reflects the interest that might reasonably be expected to be earned from that capital; and if he will make a statement. [147578]

Angela Eagle: We have already made arrangements to increase the lower capital limit from £3,000 to £6,000 from April 2001 for those on the Minimum Income Guarantee, and for those aged 60 or over on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. This is part of our commitment to continue the drive to end pensioner poverty. With the introduction of the proposed Pension Credit from 2003, we propose to abolish both the current capital limits and the assumed £1 a week rate of return for every £250 of capital, and to replace this with a system that ensures that those who have saved are rewarded for their efforts in their retirement.

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At the same time, we will also be looking at the treatment of income and capital in assessing entitlement to support for working-age families, including those on Council Tax Benefit, as part of our programme of modernising the social security and tax credit system.

Special Advisers

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the Special Advisers working for him will relinquish their posts when the next general election is called. [149309]

Mr. Darling: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer from my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 13 February 2001, Official Report, column 130W.

Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners in Halton have received the £200 Winter Fuel Payment. [150292]

Mr. Rooker: Winter Fuel Payments are made on a household basis. For the latest information available on the number of payments made in Halton, I refer my hon. Friend to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) on 31 January 2001, Official Report, column 238W.

Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many winter fuel applications were received from those aged 60 years or over on 19 September 1999; how many were received from 24 September 2000 to 31 January 2001; and how many had been processed by 31 January 2001; [150590]

Mr. Rooker: The administration of Winter Fuel Payments is a matter for Alexis Cleveland, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. She will write to the right hon. Member.

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Robert Maclennan, dated 15 February 2001:



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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when Mr. James Little will receive his Winter Fuel Payment. [150346]

Mr. Rooker: The administration of Winter Fuel Payments is a matter for Alexis Cleveland, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Christopher Chope, dated 14 February 2001:




Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will undertake additional national advertising to alert men who on 24 September 2000 were over 60 years of age of their possible entitlement to Winter Fuel Payments for this and past years; and if he will make a statement. [150591]

Mr. Rooker: I refer the right hon. Member to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Morgan) on 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 79W.

Pensioners (Benefits)

Mr. Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the number of retirement pensioners who are expected to be entitled to the pension credit; and of those, how many are also expected to be (a) entitled to (i) Housing Benefit, (ii) Council Tax Benefit and (iii) both and (b) liable to pay income tax. [150066]

Mr. Rooker: Over half of all pensioners, 5.5 million individual pensioners and pensioner couples, will benefit from the pension credit.

The detailed design and coverage of the pension credit are being considered in the light of the current consultation exercise.

Mr. Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many retirement pensioners are currently

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(a) entitled to income-related benefits but not liable to income tax and (b) entitled to income-related benefits and liable to pay income tax. [150067]

Mr. Rooker: The information is not available.

War Pension Scheme

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the seven-year rule relating to the war pension scheme was introduced; and how it was announced to the House. [150532]

Mr. Bayley: The seven-year rule was introduced in May 1947 as an amendment to the 1946 Royal Warrant under Command Paper 7124.

Far East Prisoners of War

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many (a) former UK military personnel and (b) civilians imprisoned by the Japanese during the second world war have applied for the ex-gratia payment; and how many have been refused in each category; [150577]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not yet available. Figures will be available in due course.

Mobility Benefit

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security from what date applications can be lodged for the higher rate mobility component for children aged three and four years; and who is entitled to this benefit from 9 April. [149914]

Mr. Bayley: I refer the right hon. Member to the written answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Helen Jackson) on 9 January 2001, Official Report, column 477W. From 9 April 2001, the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance will be extended to severely disabled three and four-year-old children who are unable, or virtually unable, to walk.

Claims can be made at any time on or after 9 January. Almost all the children most likely to benefit from this welcome change are already receiving DLA in respect of their care needs, and they will all be sent a letter by the end of February inviting them to apply for the higher rate mobility component.


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