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CABINET OFFICE

Devolution

Mr. Watts: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what further guidance has been offered to Government Departments on issues relating to devolution. [160485]

Mr. Ian McCartney: I am today placing in the Library a copy of Devolution Guidance Note 8 offering advice to Government departments on Post-Devolution Legislation affecting Northern Ireland. This guidance note will also be made available on the Cabinet Office Internet site at: http://www.cabinet--office.gov.uk/constitution/ devolution/guidance/ dgn. index. htm

Government Car and Despatch Agency

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what performance targets she has set for the Government Car and Despatch Agency for 2001-02. [160484]

Mr. Ian McCartney: I have set the Government Car and Despatch Agency the following key performance targets for the year.





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Official Information

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what work is being undertaken to enable citizens and businesses to quickly find official information on the internet and elsewhere. [160487]

Mr. Ian McCartney: This Government are fully aware of the need of citizens and businesses quickly to find official information on the internet, and elsewhere. It should be possible to find information without knowing any technical terms, and without knowing which Department or agency is responsible for it.

The new e-Government Metadata Framework outlines our policy on metadata. It explains how we will use an internationally recognised standard, the Dublin Core, as the basis for our own system of tagging all information resources. This will make them easier to find and easier to manage, and make life easier for our citizens.

The Metadata Framework is a natural addition to the e-Government Interoperability Framework, which I launched on 11 October last year. As with the Interoperability Framework, adherence to the Metadata Framework is mandated across the public sector.

Central Office of Information

Mr. Reed: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what performance targets she has set the Central Office of Information for 2001-02. [160486]

Mr. Ian McCartney: I have set the Central Office of Information the following targets for the year.










Departmental Publications

Tony Wright: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will take steps to ensure that all unnumbered papers and command papers are made available in an information paper series in a common format and to proper archival standards and sizes. [158211]

Marjorie Mowlam: Fresh guidance has recently been issued to departments about the arrangements for publication of Command Papers and Agency and other Public Bodies Annual Reports, which it is hoped will lead to a reduction in the number of papers presented to the House not in the numbered Command series. The majority

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of papers which are not published in either the existing House of Commons Papers or Command series are copies of departmental minutes and other documents which are presented in response to the requirement on the Government to advise the House of financial commitments they have made or which they may have to make. There are currently no plans to include these documents in a separate information series.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if self-employed persons on low incomes are eligible for stakeholder pensions; and if he will make a statement. [158897]

Mr. Rooker: Yes. Stakeholder pensions are aimed primarily at employed and self-employed people on moderate and higher earnings who do not have access to an occupational pension scheme. But there is nothing to prevent people from lower income groups contributing to a stakeholder pension, depending on their particular circumstances.

New Deal 50 Plus

Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if employment credit is assessed as income for the purpose of calculating Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for a person setting up their own business under the New Deal 50 plus programme; and if he will make a statement; [158457]

Angela Eagle: The New Deal 50 plus provides advice and assistance to help older people become self- supporting either through securing a job or becoming self-employed. In its first year of national operation, New Deal 50 plus helped over 33,000 people move from benefits into work, nearly 4,000 of whom became self-employed.

The New Deal 50 plus Employment Credit is an in-work income supplement designed to help people make the transition from benefits into work. So far as self-employed people are concerned, this credit cannot be offset against losses or liabilities.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are income related benefits and as such, all forms of income, including earnings and the New Deal 50 plus Employment Credit are considered when calculating entitlement. When the Employment Credit ceases, entitlement to these benefits may be reviewed.

People generally will be better off by moving into work or becoming self-employed and receiving the Employment Credit. In some cases, the Employment Credit will increase an individual's income to a level which means they no longer need Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.

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The Employment Credit is treated as income in calculating entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit under all circumstances.

Incapacity Benefit

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in relation to applications for Incapacity Benefit from residents of Milton Keynes, how many (a) new applications and (b) renewals were made for Incapacity Benefit; how many applicants were required to take a medical examination; and how many of those medical examinations were undertaken at (i) Luton, (ii) Aylesbury, (iii) Euston and (iv) the person's home in each year since 1997. [158208]

Mr. Bayley: The information is in the tables.

Incapacity Benefit claims received in the Milton Keynes Benefits Agency office area

Thousand
January to December 19972,943
January to December 19982,627
January to December 19992,521
January to December 20002,489

Notes:

1. New claims data are from a 100 per cent. count. A new claim may not result in an award of benefit, for example where a claim is withdrawn.

2. There are no renewal claims as Incapacity Benefit awards are indefinite. Some claims may link back to earlier periods of entitlement but it is not possible to identify these separately.


Initial entitlement to Incapacity Benefit requires the claimant to provide medical evidence of their incapacity (normally a general practitioner's certificate). Subsequently, incapacity is assessed under the Personal Capability Assessment but not all claimants are required to attend a medical examination.

Number of Incapacity Benefit claimants from Milton Keynes who were assessed at Medical Examination Centres (MECS)

Aylesbury MECEuston MECLuton MEC
October 1998 to December 199830407
January 1999 to December 199981788222
January 2000 to December 2000817237

Notes:

1. Figures are from data supplied by Medical Services and include first and subsequent referrals. Information for individual MECs is not available prior to October 1998.

2. Figures relate to Incapacity Benefit claimants living in the area covered by Milton Keynes Benefits Agency office.

3. Information on the number of examinations carried out at claimants' homes is not available.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 25 April 2001, Official Report, column 269W, how many Incapacity Benefit claims were terminated because the claimant (a) died, (b) reached pensionable age, (c) started employment and (d) left the caseload for another reason. [160231]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

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Incapacity Benefit terminations

April 1998 to March 1999Number of terminations
Death of claimant36,000
Award of retirement pension172,000
Other reason591,000

Notes:

1. Figures are taken from a 1 per cent. sample of claimants.

2. We do not routinely ask people why they have stopped claiming Incapacity Benefit.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the average claim period of an Incapacity Benefit claimant is. [160203]

Mr. Bayley: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the written answer I gave on 25 April 2001, Official Report, column 269W.


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