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SOCIAL SECURITY

Departmental Expenditure Limit

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proposals he has to amend his Department's expenditure limit and running cost limit for 2000-01. [151777]

Mr. Rooker: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate for Class XII, Vote 3, the Department of Social Security Departmental Expenditure Limit for 2000-01 will be increased by £66,361,000 from £3,590,339,000 to £3,656,700,000.

The increase is the net effect of additional Comprehensive Spending Review funding of £30,000,000 (running costs), and an increase of £20,000,000 (running costs) for the additional costs associated with the winter fuel payments. Other changes result from a net transfer of £14,315,000 (running costs), mainly for the administration costs of the ONE project, offset by a corresponding reduction on Class I, Vote 3 (Employment Service), a transfer of £1,334,000 (running costs) for expenditure on New Deal for Communities, offset by a corresponding reduction on Class III, Vote 1 (Housing, construction, regeneration, regional policy, planning and countryside and wildlife, England), a transfer of £1,065,000 (running costs) for the cost of collecting expenses associated with road traffic accidents, offset by a corresponding reduction on Class II, Vote 1 (Hospital, community health, family health and related services, England), a transfer of £200,000 (running costs) towards the administrative costs of the Teenage Pregnancy Unit, offset by a corresponding increase on Class II, Vote 2 (Department of Health administration, miscellaneous health and social services, England), a transfer of £99,000 (running costs) towards the administrative costs of making winter fuel payments, offset by a corresponding increase in Department of Health and Social Services (Northern Ireland) and an increase of £173,000 (running costs) for the cost of collecting expenses associated with road traffic accidents in Scotland and Wales. There is also an increase of £7,206,000 (running costs) associated with services provided to other Government Departments on a repayment basis, an increase of £7,178,000 (running costs) arising from increased payments of Value Added Tax on contracted out services, an increase of £500,000 (running costs) associated with expenditure on sub-let accommodation, a reduction of £1,289,000 (running costs) following a reclassification to other current expenditure and an increase of £1,081,000 (other current expenditure) arising from increased secondments. Appropriation in Aid increased by £32,389,000.

Changes in the Welfare to Work provision arise from an increase of £1,276,000 in the administration costs of measures to help unemployed people move from Welfare to Work, of which £776,000 is under the End Year Flexibility Scheme as set out in Table 7 of the Public Expenditure Outturn White Paper, Cm 4812, published on 18 July 2000, an increase of £1,212,000 in the administration costs of measures to help people with a disability or long term illness move into or remain in work, a transfer of £156,000 towards the cost of the innovative scheme lead by the Prince's Trust in respect of the New Deal for Disabled People, offset by a corresponding increase on Class 1, Vote 3 (Employment

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Service) and a transfer of £306,000 towards the administrative costs of New Deal for Partners of Unemployed People, offset by a corresponding reduction on Class I, Vote 3 Employment Service.

As a result of these changes and the reclassification of £6,500,000 to running cost related receipts the running cost limit of this Department will be increased by £58,799,000 from £3,219,522,000 to £3,278,321,000 and the running costs limit of the Welfare to Work programme will be increased by £2,638,000 from £13,996,000 to £16,634,000.

Increases will be offset by transfers or a charge to the DEL Reserve and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people are claiming the minimum income guarantee in (a) Great Britain, (b) each region of Great Britain and (c) each parliamentary constituency. [151778]

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

Departmental Policies (Norwich, North)

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effect on the Norwich, North constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [151141]

Mr. Rooker: The Department's policies and initiatives have made a significant contribution to the Government's overall objectives of:




These goals are being pursued nationwide and our achievements are set out in our annual "Opportunity for all" reports. Our second report, "Opportunity for all--One year on: making a difference" (CM4865, September 2000) sets out what progress has been made in the past year, as well as highlighting what more needs to be done. Nationwide statistical information is necessarily more complete than constituency level data, but the following provides a comparative guide to the effect of the Department's policies and actions in Norwich, North since May 1997.

Measures in our first four Budgets will lift over 1 million children out of poverty. These include record increases to Child Benefit and Working Families Tax Credit, increases in the income-related benefits, the minimum wage and tax changes.

Child benefit will be worth £15.50 a week for the eldest child and £10.35 a week for other children from April 2001: nationally about 7 million families receive child benefit, and in Norwich, North 11,145 families benefit.

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We now have the lowest unemployment rate in 25 years. The New Deals have helped lone parents, the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed, the over 50s and partners of the unemployed to move from benefit into work. In the period since May 1997 the number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance nationally has reduced from 1,562,400 to 1,044,900; in Norwich, North the number has reduced from 2,800 to 1,700. Since May 1997 the number of lone parents who claim Income Support has decreased from 1,013,500 to 894,100 nationally and in Norwich, North from 1,600 to 1,100.

Older people are disproportionately affected by fuel poverty. So we have introduced Winter Fuel Payments to help with their heaviest fuel bill. This winter, the payment is £200 for households who qualify. Over 21,000 older people in Norwich, North have received a Winter Fuel Payment for this winter.

To demonstrate our commitment to combating pensioner poverty, this year we will spend £4.5 billion extra in real terms on pensioners. Some 19,400 pensioners in Norwich, North will benefit from the substantial increases in the basic State pension this April and next; this year's increase is £5 a week for single pensioners and £8 for couples. In addition we have introduced free TV licences for the over 75s of whom we estimate there are about 7,800 in Norwich, North. 2,700 pensioner families in Norwich, North are receiving the Minimum Income Guarantee, which we introduced in April 1999 to help our poorest pensioners. From April they will be at least £15 a week, or £800 a year, better off in real terms as a result of Government measures since 1997.

Other reforms in the pipeline include: the new Pension Credit in 2003 designed to ensure that pensioners benefit from their savings; the launch of Stakeholder Pensions in April this year; and the introduction of the State Second Pension in April 2002 both of which will help provide greater security for tomorrow's pensioners.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many complaints were made against the Benefits Agency in regard to Disability Living Allowance in each of the last three years; how many such cases have been investigated by the Ombudsman; in how many cases was compensation awarded; and what the (a) highest and (b) average level of compensation was. [150594]

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

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Anthony Steen, dated 26 February 2001:



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Number
April 1998 to March 19994,276
April 1999 to March 200010,656
April 2000 to December 200010,467

These numbers include complaints about standards of service and cases in which dissatisfaction has been expressed with the outcome of benefit decisions.
There has been a steady increase in the number of complaints throughout this period. Between April 1999 and June 2000, this can be attributed to an increase in work on hand before and after the introduction of DMA and it should be noted that the figures have steadily decreased each month since July 2000. Changes to DLA procedures led initially to a significant increase in the time taken to process each case, which created a temporary backlog of work. This was tackled as a priority and is now under control.
The information about DLA Ombudsman cases and special payments is not kept separately from Attendance Allowance (AA) cases.
2. Number of DLA and AA cases investigated by the Ombudsman:

Number
April 1998 to March 1999137
April 1999 to March 2000119
April 2000 to January 2001149

3. The total number of DLA and AA Special Payments made:

Number
April 1998 to March 1999535
April 1999 to March 2000659
April 2000 to January 2001869

4. The value of DLA and AA Special Payments:

£

Highest awardAverage award
April 1998 to March 199910,000499.00
April 1999 to March 20007,134.50262.14
April 2000 to January 200114,556.50320.75

I hope this is helpful.


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