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Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average processing time is for repeat benefit claims for (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b) income support. [11258]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on repeat benefit claims is not collected separately. The average time taken to clear a new or repeat benefit claim to jobseeker's allowance is 9.3 days; and for income support it is 7.6 days.

Benefits (Northampton)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which of the specific directions issued to Northampton borough council on 21 August 2000 concerning the delivery and accuracy of housing benefit and council tax benefit payments was implemented by the deadline of 22 August; which directions were not met by this deadline; and what further action is to be taken against the council. [7903]

Malcolm Wicks: Northampton borough council attained, by the specified date, the standard set out in the directions relating to the examination of cases referred for fraud investigation. The council failed to attain the standards relating to the speed of processing claims and reported changes of circumstances, and to the correct classification of overpayments, by 22 August 2001.

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The Department subsequently provided assistance from the housing benefit help team to work in partnership with the council to develop service improvement initiatives. Following assistance from the help team, the council has recently provided the Department with a report on the current situation, together with an action plan for improving its benefit administration. We are now considering what further action is necessary following study of the report and plan, and completion of the help team's work with the council.

Disability Benefits

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average waiting time for clearing new claims was over the last 12 months in each disability benefit centre. [11904]

Maria Eagle: The information requested is collated on a year-to-date basis. The figures for disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA) new claims for each disability benefits centre (DBC) are in the table:

Disability Benefit Centre (DBC)DLA and AA new claim actual average clearance times in days January to September 2001

Disability Discrimination Act

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on (a) the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended and (b) the level of compliance with its provisions. [11319]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 31 October 2001]: Most provisions of the DDA have been implemented. The final provisions of part III will be implemented in October 2004. The provisions on education come into force in September 2002, with some reasonable adjustment duties on responsible bodies in the post-16 sector coming into force in 2003 and 2005.

Only courts and tribunals can decide whether a particular action complied with the DDA or not and then only if a complaint is made. Emerging findings from research indicate that awareness levels are increasing and fewer than one per cent. of people covered by the parts II and III have complained to tribunals and courts. Compliance with the accessibility regulations for transport vehicles has generally been good.

Independent Living Fund

Andy Burnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish the findings of his review of the independent living fund. [9870]

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Maria Eagle: We intend to announce the results of the quinquennial review of the independent living fund in due course.

Incapacity Benefit

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, (1) pursuant to his answer of 20 July 2001, Official Report, column 684W, on incapacity benefit, how many incapacity reviews were undertaken in each of the last five years; and if he will estimate the annual additional number of reviews that will be undertaken once his plans for reviews every three years are fully implemented; [7996]

Malcolm Wicks: We are introducing jobcentre plus interviews in jobcentre plus pathfinder offices to enable incapacity benefit recipients to discuss with their personal adviser the help, benefits and opportunities available to them.

Jobcentre plus interviews will be conducted by a trained personal adviser who will discuss with people their skills, qualifications and ability to work, barriers which may preclude them from working, and their plans, aspirations and interests in training and taking up work in the future. This is entirely separate from the reviews undertaken as part of the incapacity benefit medical testing regime. The Department always aims to carry out such reviews as quickly as possible.

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the total advertising costs for promoting the stakeholder pension scheme. [7580]

Mr. McCartney: We are not specifically advertising stakeholder pensions. Stakeholder information is included as part of the wider pensions education campaign. This campaign seeks to promote information about the full range of pension options available, including stakeholder pensions, and cost £6.5 million in 2000–01. This included development of the new campaign, press, cinema and TV advertising, research and evaluation, the costs of running the pensions information line, website development, printing leaflets and other campaign materials.

The Department has also written to employers with five or more employees with information explaining what stakeholder pensions are; whether those employers are affected by the new rules on providing access to a stakeholder pension scheme for their employees; and if so, what they need to do.

Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has to improve the knowledge of doctors representing the Benefits Agency regarding the condition known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome; and if he will ensure that information relating to the illness is sent to all appropriate agencies. [9741]

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Maria Eagle: All medical service doctors who carry out assessments on behalf of the Benefits Agency have received comprehensive training on fibromyalgia within the past year. Fibromyalgia is covered in the disability handbook for disability living allowance and attendance allowance, which is available to decision-makers. Information on the condition will also be included in new training material for decision-makers which is currently being developed.

Benefit Recovery (Accident Victims)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much benefit was recovered from accident victims by way of recoupment from damages awards in each of the last four years. [9609]

Maria Eagle: The current compensation recovery scheme is working in accordance with the principles and objectives set when the reformed scheme was introduced in October 1997.

The amount recovered is in respect of benefits already paid to the claimant in consequence of their accident, injury or illness and is recovered direct from the compensator, and never from the claimant.

The amount recovered purely in respect of accident is given in the tables.


Financial YearAmount

Income Support

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents have claimed income support in each quarter since August 1996, broken down by lone parents with (a) at least one child under five and (b) all children over five years. [9645]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the table.

Lone parent income support claimants by age of children

At least one child aged under 5All children aged 5 or over


1. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand. Totals may not sum due to rounding

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

3. Lone parents are defined as single people who have dependants but do not receive a pensioner or a disability premium


Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiries, August 1996 to May 2001

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