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10 Dec 2001 : Column: 607W
Mr. McCartney: The Government recognise the valuable role that final salary schemes play in providing security in retirement. They also recognise, however, that employers provide occupational schemes on a voluntary basis and consequently it is for them to determine the most appropriate pension provision to suit their business needs. We welcome the broadening by occupational pension schemes of their eligibility criteria in response to the introduction of stakeholder pensions.
The stakeholder pension has helped increase the size of the overall pensions market. The value of new pension sales rose by 9 per cent. in the July to September quarter of this year to £2.8 billion. Regular pension premium business rose by 50 per cent. to £584 million compared with the same period last year.
investment in education and training so people have the skills they need to take up work;
a labour market policy with a strong work focus so all jobless people have access to vacancies, advice and help with jobsearch;
a range of new deal programmes which help disadvantaged groups, including the long-term unemployed, move from welfare into work;
policies such as the national minimum wage and working families tax credit designed to make work pay; and
locally focused initiatives designed to tackle the problems of particular areas.
The new deal for young people and new deal 25 plus are playing an important part in helping long-term unemployed people improve their job prospects and move into work in Romford. Up to the end of September, they had helped over 350 long-term unemployed people move into jobs in the constituency.
Malcolm Wicks: Over 94,000 pensioners already receive help with their mortgage interest payments through our minimum income guarantee. We expect this number to increase to around 200,000 when the pension credit is introduced. Our detailed proposals for the pension credit were published on 28 November 2001.
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Mr. McCartney: Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that up to the end of October 491,694 stakeholder pensions had been sold. A more detailed breakdown of these figures will not be available until next year, but I consider that sales of almost half a million in the first seven months on the market is a very encouraging start. In addition, the ABI figures show 284,821 employers had designated stakeholder pension schemes for their staff.
33. Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on changes to eligibility for lower rate disability living allowance in respect of those suffering from fear or anxiety. 
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to ensure that applicants for disability living allowance are able to request a face-to-face completion service for application forms. 
Maria Eagle: Not all customers who ask for help need or want face-to-face assistance. There is a range of services available including textphone communication, the benefit inquiry line and the DLA/AA helpline which can provide telephone assistance with forms completion and where necessary, customers can be visited in their own homes.
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Maria Eagle: The Department is considering the most appropriate and cost-effective methods of providing information on benefits (not just disability living allowance and attendance allowance) to deaf people. One option being considered is the production of videos.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Action teams for jobs are one of a range of initiatives we have introduced to help people move into work. Action teams are performing well, so far helping over 15,500 jobless people in the country's most employment deprived areas move into work (41 per cent. of participants). Up to mid-October 2001, the Thanet action team had helped 727 people into work.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Employment zones are one of a range of initiatives we have introduced to help long-term unemployed people move into work. The performance of the 15 employment zones is encouraging. Early indications are that almost half of participants find work. We are currently evaluating the zones before deciding how to take the initiative further.
Maria Eagle: The Government ran an awareness campaign late last year aimed at service providers. A further campaign will be launched in January. The revised Code of Practice for access requirements was laid before Parliament recently and will be published early next year.
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discrimination against disabled people the Disability Rights Commission has supported financially in its first year of operation. 
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