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Pension Forecasts

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the manner in which the Government will provide information to individuals about combined state and private pension forecasts. [8410]

Mr. McCartney: Combined pension forecasts are issued by private/occupational pension providers using information made available by the Department for Work and Pensions.

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Individuals will be informed about combined pension forecasts by their scheme provider/employer, and can choose whether or not they wish to receive one.

Pilot exercises conducted with the private sector demonstrated that recipients of the new joint statement, which provides people with easy to understand information on both their state and private pensions, found the service helpful in planning their future income needs in retirement.

The focus of the Department's recruitment activity is on pension scheme providers and employers with occupational pension schemes who will offer the new combined pension forecast service to their members. We will continue to provide general information to individuals about the various pension options available and the importance of reviewing their needs regularly through our pensions education campaign.

The Department for Work and Pensions commenced the recruitment of pensions scheme providers at the annual Pensions Show on 17 October 2001 and intend to exhibit at appropriate industry events in the future.

New Deal

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what resources are being targeted to help people aged (a) 50 and over and (b) under 25 years who are not working, to set up their own businesses. [11652]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The new deal 50 plus, new deal for disabled people, new deal 25 plus, work based learning for adults and training for work, all provide a range of help for people over 50 who wish to set up in business. Support for the under 25s who wish to establish their own business is provided by two major initiatives: the self-employment route of new deal for young people and the youth enterprise initiative.

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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what alternative to individual learning accounts is offered to new deal 50 plus participants reaching the end of their 52 weeks on employment credit and in receipt of a training grant. [15845]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: We are currently in the process of making alternative arrangements following the suspension of ILAs. In the meantime, people can still access the £150 new deal 50 plus contribution by contacting their local Jobcentre.

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in East Devon are on the new deal programme, broken down by each category of the new deal. [17266]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is in the table.

ProgrammeNumber of people on the programme(4)
New deal for young people25
New deal 25 plus22
New deal for lone parents158
New deal 50 plus(5)(6)46

(4) End August 2001

(5) Employment credit claims

(6) At end of September 2001


New Deal Evaluation Database

Constituency level information is not available for the new deals for disabled people and partners.

Mortgage Support

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of working age households in each English region were receiving mortgage support through their income support in (a) March 1997 and (b) March 2001. [17772]

Malcolm Wicks: The available information is in the table.

Working age income support (IS) recipients receiving income support mortgage interest payments by Government office region, as at February 1997 and February 2001

February 1997 February 2001
English regionNumber of IS cases (thousand)Percentage of working age populationNumber of IS cases (thousand)Percentage of working age population
All England208.30.7149.00.5
North East10.
North West36.20.927.00.6
Yorkshire and Humberside20.80.716.90.5
East Midlands15.30.611.60.4
West Midlands23.20.718.00.6
South East29.50.618.10.4
South West19.60.712.50.4


1. North West includes Merseyside Government office region, previously shown separately

2. Working age income support recipients are defined as single people or family units receiving income support where the main recipient is of working age (male 16–64, female 16–59). This will include cases where the main recipient's partner is of state pension age

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

4. Case load figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred; percentages are given to one decimal place


Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, February 1997 and February 2001

Office for National Statistics mid-term estimates of the population for 1997 and 2000

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Hospitalisation (Deduction of Benefits)

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department's regulations governing deduction of benefits for people admitted to hospital for six weeks or more include consideration or fixed costs incurred, with particular reference to standing charges for utilities. [18075]

Mr. McCartney: The deduction is intended to reflect the fact that hospital in-patients do not have to meet all their day-to-day living expenses.

Child Poverty

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what work his Department has carried out in dealing with child poverty in the last three years. [19835]

Malcolm Wicks: Child poverty and social exclusion are complex and multi-dimensional concepts, affecting many aspects of children's lives—including their living standards, health, housing, the quality of the environment, and opportunities to learn. The Government are committed to ending child poverty within 20 years. Our strategy for tackling child poverty and social exclusion is set out in the annual "Opportunity for all" reports. The third "Opportunity for all" report (Cm 5260) presents the latest information on the indicators used to monitor progress against this strategy.

Child Support

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will make a statement on what plans he has for existing Child Support Agency customers to be progressed on to the new regulations from April 2002; [19899]

Malcolm Wicks: Changes to the child support scheme will take effect for new cases from April 2002. Existing cases will be transferred to the new scheme about a year later. The precise date will be announced when we are confident that it is working well for new cases.

When CSA converts existing cases both parents will be notified of the decision and how it has been arrived at. For the vast majority of existing cases the new calculation will take effect from a common date. Either parent can ask the CSA to look at the decision again within one month of notification if they think that it is wrong. If the CSA accepts that the decision is wrong they will correct it straight away. If it turns out that the non-resident parent has overpaid maintenance in the meantime the sums involved may be refunded or offset against future liability.

Either parent can also appeal against the CSA's decision to an independent tribunal who will consider whether the agency applied the law correctly.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will outline his policy towards disclosure under CSA regulations; how he plans to change it after

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April 2002 in respect of departures; and what impact this will have upon the rights of a new partner to a parent with non-resident responsibilities. [19901]

Malcolm Wicks: The Child Support Agency treats the protection of personal information very seriously and it will only disclose information gathered for child support purposes in circumstances permitted by law.

Changes to the child support scheme, which are to be introduced for new cases by April 2002, will not include any provision for departures. However, either parent will be able to apply for the child support rates to be varied in specified, exceptional cases. The decision making process for variations will be streamlined. Applications for a variation can be submitted before the maintenance calculation has been made, thus enabling the system to operate more quickly.

The financial details of a NRP's new partner will not normally be relevant in the changed child support scheme.

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