Previous Section Index Home Page

Pensioner Poverty

Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how he plans to assist pensioners with income just above the poverty line. [19180]

Mr. McCartney: We have already taken a number of steps to tackle pensioner poverty.

We introduced the minimum income guarantee (MIG) to provide more money for pensioners as quickly as possible. For example a single pensioner aged 60 to 74 now receives £92.15 a week, an increase of £18 a week since 1997 over and above inflation. From April 2002 single pensioners will see their MIG rise by £6 to £98.15 a week.

From 2003 pension credit will ensure people aged 60 and over need not live on less than £100 a week (£154 for couples) and for the first time, saving will be rewarded instead of being penalised. Pension credit will provide a savings credit for those aged 65 and over who have saved for their retirement and have incomes up to £135 a week (£200 for couples), ensuring pensioners with even modest second pensions and savings will get more as a result of their thrift. In addition, we will abolish the rule which excludes pensioners with £12,000 or more in savings from any help and introduce a fairer system for taking into account income for savings.

Special Advisers and Press Officers

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers were employed (i) full-time, (ii) part- time and (iii) on a contract basis by his Department in each year since 1992. [6917]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed on 8 June 2001 from parts of the former Department of Social Security, parts of the former Department for Education and Employment and the Employment Service.

The Department for Work and Pensions currently employs two full-time special advisers and 11 full-time press officers.

Child Support

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if new assessments on existing Child Support Agency cases after April 2002 will be made on the new system; [10434]

Malcolm Wicks: From April 2002, new child support cases will have maintenance calculations made under the new system. Most existing cases will be transferred from

10 Dec 2001 : Column: 611W

a common date to the new system. However, some cases will convert earlier if they are linked to a new scheme case. Parents who have arranged their lives around current maintenance payments will need time to adjust to any changes resulting from the new calculation. For this reason, we plan to phase in the new liabilities in stages over a period of up to five years. There will therefore be cases in 2005 that have not reached their new scheme liability.

Departmental Promotions

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent on information literature, advertising and campaign material in the financial years (a) 1995–96, (b) 1996–97, (c) 1997–98, (d) 1998–99 (e) 1999–2000 and (f) 2000–01; and if he will make a statement. [12267]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is not available in the format requested.

For such information as is available on marketing expenditure for the year 2000, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) on 27 November 2001, Official Report, column 828W.

Widowers' Benefits

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many widowers would have been eligible for widowers benefits between 1994 and 2000; and what is his estimate of the cost. [15474]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the table.

Estimated cost and number of recipients if widows' benefits had been available to men

Number of recipientsEstimated cost (£ million)
1998–99 90,000250


1. It is assumed that widowers' benefits were subject to the same overlapping benefit rules as widows' benefits.

2. No allowance is made for taxation effects, or for offsetting savings from reduced income-related benefit expenditure.

3. Costs are rounded to the nearest 50 million, recipients to the nearest 10,000.


Government Actuary Department estimates and DWP Policy Simulation Model.

ONE Pilots

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the integrated claim form piloted in the ONE callcentre pilots. [17998]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: As part of the ONE delivery evaluation programme research was carried out among clients and staff, including views on the Integrated Claim Form (ICF).

10 Dec 2001 : Column: 612W

Around 48 per cent. of Call Centre clients in 2000–01 used the ICF to claim two or more benefits. Clients thought the Call Centre process was generally more convenient and they welcomed help in completing complicated forms, although the service was sometimes hampered by IT problems. Clients liked ICFs because they received a partly completed claim form and it reduced the number of forms that they had to complete. The ICF also advises clients as to what will be required at their Personal Adviser (PA) meeting.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the (a) costs and (b) benefits of the ONE pilots introduced in June and November 1999. [19038]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: ONE has a comprehensive evaluation programme designed to assess its costs and benefits. We expect final results from the cost benefit analysis to be available in winter 2002–3.

Published findings from the voluntary phase of ONE and the early findings from the full participation phase of ONE, which assess the impact of ONE, are available on the Department's website and in the Library.

Work Incentives

Mr. Alan Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to improve incentives for those with children to work; and how many have taken them up in Tynemouth constituency in the last year for which figures are available. [17997]

Mr. Nick Brown: This Government believe that work is the best form of welfare for those who are able. We have introduced a wide range of measures including the Working Families Tax Credit to help make work pay and the National Childcare Strategy to help make work possible for people with children. Since April this year, lone parents can also get help with childcare payments if they take up part-time work through the New Deal for Lone Parents.

We are also easing the transition to work through a range of benefit run-ons. Lone parents benefit run-on was introduced in 1999 and in the year 2000–01 helped over 50,000 lone parents nationally. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit run-ons have been available for a number of years and in 2000–01 were claimed by 140,000 people nationally. From April this year we have also introduced the Mortgage Interest run-on to help home owners moving from benefits to full time work. The numbers of people taking advantage of all of these run-ons are not available broken down by constituency.

Parliamentary Questions

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer the question tabled on 25 October by the hon. Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North concerning the suspension of child benefit payments. [18599]

Malcolm Wicks: I refer my hon. Friend to the written answer given to her on 26 November 2001, Official Report, columns 707–08W.

10 Dec 2001 : Column: 613W

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of parliamentary questions replied to by his Department were the subject of a holding answer in the last three Sessions of Parliament. [22015]

Maria Eagle: The information is in the table.

Percentage of named day parliamentary questions for which holding replies were given


Medical Assessments

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) of 16 November 2001, Official Report, column 936W, on SEMA, if he will place in the Library, the IMPACT and Corporate Medical Group's assessments of Medical Services' performance against quality targets; if he will estimate the number of occasions that Medical Services have been required to develop and deliver action plans to improve performance where this fails to reach an acceptable standard; and if he will estimate the number of occasions that his Department has claimed service credits from SchlumbergerSema in each year since the contract was signed. [18225]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 26 November 2001]: A report on Medical Services' performance against quality targets will be prepared for publication before the parliamentary summer recess, and a copy will be placed in the Library.

Since the contract was signed, Medical Services have been required to develop and deliver one action plan involving all sites, and ten relating to individual Medical Services Centres, to improve performance against service level volume targets.

Service credits for performance against quantitative service level targets have been applied monthly since September 1999. Qualitative and customer service targets have only recently been introduced.

Next Section Index Home Page