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Benefit Reductions

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what reductions are applied to a payee's (a) disability living allowance, (b) attendance allowance, (c) state retirement pension, (d) invalidity benefit and (e) income support during a period of in-patient (i) NHS hospital treatment and (ii) private hospital treatment. [19114]

Mr. McCartney: Disability living allowance is withdrawn after four weeks in hospital, or after 12 weeks in the case of a recipient aged under 16. Attendance allowance is withdrawn after four weeks.

A limited reduction is made to retirement pension and incapacity benefit after six weeks in hospital. The reduction is currently £28.30 a week, or £14.50 if the recipient has a dependant. After 52 weeks payment is reduced to

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20 per cent. (£14.50) of the basic retirement pension for a person without a dependant and by 40 per cent. of the basic retirement pension for a person with a dependant.

Income support for a single person is reduced to £18.15 a week after six weeks and to £14.50 after 52 weeks. In the case of a couple, it is reduced by £14.50 a week after six weeks. Each partner should make a separate claim after 52 weeks, and the one in hospital will receive £14.50 a week.

People who pay the whole cost of accommodation and services provided for them by the hospital are not subject to these reductions.

Knowsley Local Authority

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the cost of the partnership with Knowsley local authority to introduce e-mail links through digital television. [18984]

Mr. McCartney: The Department secured £1.9 million from the Treasury Invest to Save fund to run a two year iDTV for the pensions project starting in April 2001. The original intention was to deliver a local pilot, partnering Knowsley local authority. However, we decided on a national pilot and have partnered with Inland Revenue to deliver information and services through satellite and cable iDTV providers to approximately 7 million users across Great Britain. The pilot service, which will be evaluated, is due to be launched in the spring of 2002 and will run for an initial one year period. Further developments beyond the pilot period will be dependent on the pilot evaluation findings.

Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the reasons for the increase from 1997–98 to 2002–03 in the administrative costs of the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman. [19525]

Mr. McCartney: The staffing and workload levels of the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman have remained constant throughout this period. The increase in administrative costs largely reflects the year on year increases for pay and prices. The administrative costs for 1998–99 and 2000–01 reflect a reduction in the level of expenditure on non staff costs in those years.

Pension Provision Group

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish the Pension Provision Group's reports on pension provision and self-employment and on pensions and the labour market. [21457]

Mr. McCartney: The Pension Provision Group have completed their reviews and both reports have been placed in the Library. These are the group's final reports and we would like to thank the group for their work and commitment over the last four and a half years.