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Poverty (North-west)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) children, (b) adults and (c) pensioners lived in poverty in the north west in each of the years from 1997 to date. [160084]

Mr. Bayley: Poverty and social exclusion are complex multi-dimensional issues, affecting many aspects of people's lives--including income, health, housing, the quality of their environment and opportunities to learn. There is no single measure that can capture the complex problems that need to be overcome.

However, a number of these aspects have seen significant improvement in the north west since 1997. For instance, the proportion of children achieving at least level 4 at key stage 2 has risen from 63 per cent. in 1997 to 75 per cent. in 2000 in English. In maths the proportion rose from 63 per cent. to 73 per cent. The numbers claiming Unemployment Benefit have fallen by over 35 per cent. since the election to 125,000 in March 2001. Unemployment has not been as low in the north west since May 1975. The percentage of pensioners in 1998-99 in low income households in the north west Government office region was 24 per cent. on the before housing costs measure and 27 per cent. on the after housing costs measure. This is similar to the level for Great Britain as a whole.

The annual report, "Opportunity for all" (CM4865), available in the Library, sets out and monitors the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion.



NIRS2

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average arrears payment and the average compensation payment made to people who have been victims of the problems with the NIRS2 computer system, broken down into claimants of each of the benefits affected. [160224]

8 May 2001 : Column: 9W

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 3 May 2001]: The only reason there have been victims of the NIRS2 computer system is because of the terms on which the system was purchased by the previous Administration. We are dealing with the consequences to ensure people do not lose out.

BenefitAverage amount of benefit arrears paid (£)Average amount of compensation paid (£ p)
Retirement Pension32312.20
Widows Benefit1,66529.97
Incapacity Benefit30519.55
Jobseeker's Allowance38131.44

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security broken down on an annual basis, how many claimants of each of the benefits calculated by NIRS2 have received arrears payments related to the problems with the computer system; how many have received compensation; and how many cases are still waiting to be reviewed. [160225]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 3 May 2001]: As at 31 March 2001, the Department had processed almost 98 per cent. of the 3.2 million referrals from NIRS2 since 19 April 1999. 66,880 cases remain under review, which is 8,000 less than at 28 February 2001.

BenefitNumber of people whose benefit has been underpaidNumber of people who have received compensation
Tax year 1999-2000
Retirement Pension94,942197,933
Widows Benefit9,93619,081
Incapacity Benefit3,9802,055
Jobseeker's Allowance1,019161
Tax year 2000-01
Retirement Pension75,40950,227
Widows Benefit6,1604,110
Incapacity Benefit4,9372,488
Jobseeker's Allowance1,16865

Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners (a) received the Minimum Income Guarantee premium for those aged between 75 and 79 years and (b) how many received the premium for those aged 80 years and over broken down into single people and couples, and prior to the changes in April. [160220]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 3 May 2001]: The position on premiums for the earnings related Minimum Income Guarantee prior to this April's changes is given in the table. The two lower rates of the Minimum Income Guarantee were abolished on 9 April and all claimants now receive the highest rate of £92.15 for a single person and £140.55 for couples. The number of pensioners claiming are expected to increase by 140,000 as they become newly entitled to the guarantee because of these increases and increases in the lower and upper capital limits.

8 May 2001 : Column: 10W

Income Support claimants aged over 60 with premiums, November 2000

Thousand
PremiumAll claimantsSingle claimantsCouples
Higher Pensioner Premium
Claimant/partner aged 80 or over635.3590.844.5
Claimant/partner aged 60-79494.5354.6139.8
Enhanced Pensioner Premium
Claimant/partner aged 75-79142.6130.412.3
Pensioner Premium
Claimant/partner aged 60-74354.9286.668.3

Notes:

1. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.

2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred and quoted in thousands.

3. Pensioner Premiums are paid at three rates depending upon age or disability and are paid in respect of either the claimant and/or their partner.

Source:

Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, November 2000.


Pension Credit

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 23 April 2001, Official Report, columns 153-54W, for what reason Pension Credit claimants were not included in the estimate of pensioners in receipt of means-tested support in 2003-04. [160230]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 3 May 2001]: We are still considering the overall design of Pension Credit in light of the consultation exercise. Final decisions have not yet been made on several policy areas which will have an impact on the number of pensioners entitled to the reward for saving. Estimates of the number of pensioners covered by Pension Credit will be published in due course.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many persons (a) qualified for the higher mobility rate of Disability Living Allowance and (b) participated in the Motability scheme, in each of the last five years. [159741]

Mr. Bayley [holding answer 3 May 2001]: The information is in the table.

Recipients of the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance and participants in the Motability scheme

Thousand
YearDLA higher rate mobility component recipients(2)Current Motability agreements(3)
19961,253299
19971,327341
19981,346366
19991,364384
20001,409392

(2) DSS Information Centre: five per cent. data

(3) Motability--includes War Pension recipients and Northern Ireland cases

Note:

Figures relate to 30 November


8 May 2001 : Column: 11W

DEFENCE

Submarine Flotilla

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current status of the repairs to the submarine flotilla. [160686]

Mr. Spellar: The repairs to the SSNs recalled last October are progressing well. Although straightforward in engineering terms, the work has involved the development of engineering techniques. This has been given the highest priority and I am able to say that the repairs to HMS Torbay and HMS Tireless have been completed successfully. HMS Torbay remains in refit and HMS Tireless, sailed yesterday from Gibraltar to return to duty.

Departmental Policies (Bristol, East)

Jean Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Bristol, East constituency, the effects on Bristol of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [150558]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has a wide-ranging presence throughout the UK in terms of defence establishments and the service and civilian personnel they employ. This presence brings benefits to many communities, local economies and jobs. Also, 60,000 new defence contracts are placed each year that provide support to industry and create and sustain defence-related employment.

The Ministry of Defence has maintained a very substantial number of personnel in the Bristol area: within a 25-mile radius distance of the constituency, MOD direct employees totalled some 15,700 personnel as of 1 October 1999 (service and civilian).

Since 2 May 1997, around 1,230 contracts with a total value of some £1,954 million were placed with prime contractors in the Bristol area 1 .

I draw attention to the Defence Analytical Services Agency report "UK Defence Statistics 2000", which contains a welfare of defence statistical information, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.



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