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WORK AND PENSIONS

Departmental Investment Strategy

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the cost in 2001–02 of the Departmental Investment Strategy. [18977]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Departmental Investment Strategy for 2001–02 covers only the part of Department of Work and Pensions which was formerly the Department of Social Security.

The cost of the former Department of Social Security Departmental Investment Strategy is expected to be in the region of £840 million.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what are the projected additional annual costs at current prices for each of the next 35 years for (a) the annual uprating of the minimum income guarantee in line with average earnings, (b) the pension credit, (c) raising the level of the basic state pension to the level of the MIG for (i) all pensioners, (ii) all pensioners over 75 and (iii) all pensioners over 80 years and (d) the annual uprating of the state second pension in line with average earnings. [20235]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested for the minimum income guarantee and the pension credit is set out in the paper "The Pension Credit: long-term projections" which has been placed in the Library today. Copies are also available in the Vote Office.

The additional information requested is set out in the tables.

17 Jan 2002 : Column 456W

Annual costs in 2001–02 prices of increasing the basic state pension to the level of the minimum income guarantee and then uprating by earnings thereafter
£ billion

AllOver 75sOver 80s
20028.53.82.2
200510.74.72.8
201015.86.63.9
201521.38.95.3
202027.512.17.0
202536.817.39.6
203048.622.213.6
203561.028.517.1
205092.351.434.1

Source:

The Government Actuary's Department


Annual costs in 2001–02 prices of earnings uprating state second pension
£ billion

State Second Pension
20020.0
20050.0
20100.0
20150.1
20200.3
20250.7
20301.2
20352.0

Notes:

1. The costs of increases in the basic state pension and state pension are net of income related benefit savings that would be generated by these increases.

2. The costs given for earnings uprating of state second pension assume that expenditure on SERPS (accruals up to 2001–02) would not be affected.

3. The costs of earnings uprating of the state second pension only begin to become significant by 2015 because S2P only begins accruing in 2002–03 and therefore the amount of S2P in payment will be negligible for some time after that.

4. The costs shown for state second pension in the table have been calculated based on the estimated costs of S2P which were shown in the report by the Government Actuary on the Financial Effects on the National Insurance Fund of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill 1999 (Cm 4573). The costs shown are the increase in expenditure over and above the baseline projected S2P expenditure shown in this report.

5. It has been assumed that the basic state pension and state pension changes would not happen together. If they did, there would be an interaction because the Lower Earnings Limit is linked to the basic state pension. This means that the cost of S2P would be reduced if the basic state pension and, therefore, the LEL were raised.

6. Average earnings are assumed to grow in line with Treasury economic assumptions until the end of the Parliament and then 1.5 per cent. above inflation over time.

7. The pensioner population is assumed to grow according to GAD's central population growth estimates.

Source:

The Government Actuary's Department


Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what is the take-up rate for the minimum income guarantee for pensioners. [27668]

Mr. McCartney: Estimates of take-up for the minimum income guarantee (MIG) by pensioners were published in "Income Related Benefits—Estimates of Take Up in 1999–2000", a copy of which is available in the Library.

As at August 2001 there were 1.736 million pensioners receiving the MIG.

17 Jan 2002 : Column 457W

State Retirement Pension

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the value was of the state retirement pension as a percentage of the average weekly wage in (a) 1971, (b) 1978, (c) 1981, (d) 1988, (e) 1991, (f) 1998 and (g) 2001. [21750]

Mr. McCartney: The objective of the basic state pension, since it was introduced in 1948, has always been to provide a foundation for income in retirement on which individuals could build their own second pension or other savings income. The Government are committed to retaining the basic state pension in this role as well as making it easier to build up second pensions, whether through private stakeholder pensions or the new state second pension (which will particularly help people on low pay or with broken work records such as carers or disabled). In addition, the Government are committed to tackling pensioner poverty directly with the minimum income guarantee and ensuring that thrift is rewarded through the pension credit.

The information requested is as follows:

Percentage
September 197120.3
November 197823.2
November 198122.4
April 198818.8
April 199118.3
April 199816.8
April 2001(8)

(8) Not yet available

Note:

The percentage is based on the amount of a single person's pension

Source:

"The Abstract of Statistics for Social Security Benefits and Contributions and Indices of Prices and Earnings", 2000 edition published by the DSS, page 57.


17 Jan 2002 : Column 458W

Minimum Wage

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people who no longer receive (a) one and (b) more than one means-tested benefit due to the introduction of the minimum wage; and if he will make a statement. [24104]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available in the format requested. The number of people affected by the introduction of the minimum wage will vary year on year as people move off benefit and into work. For 2001–02 we estimate that up to 50,000 people no longer receive one or more of income support, housing benefit or council tax benefit as a result of the introduction of the national minimum wage.





Consultation Papers

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 23 October 2001, Official Report, column 179W, if he will list the consultation papers released by his Department during the summer recess. [24220]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The list of consultation documents issued during summer recess is as follows:

Issue date Consultation document
19 July 2001Social Security Fraud Act 2001 Code of Practice on Obtaining Information
23 July 2001Changes to Invalid Care Allowance
23 July 2001Amending the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979
1 August 2001The Occupational Pension Schemes (Winding Up Notices and Reports etc.) Regulations 2001
3 August 2001 Housing and Council Tax Benefits Verification Framework: Splitting the Verification Framework into Modules
13 August 2001The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Amendment Regulations 2001
13 August 2001The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Consultation Document) Amendment Regulations 2001
18 September 2001The Minimum Funding requirement—The next stage of reform

Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to reply to the question of 3 December, ref. 21339, from the hon. Member for Buckingham on sickness absence. [24727]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 8 January 2002, Official Report, column 693W.

Industrial Action

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of occasions on which (a) an interview, (b) a benefit claim and (c) a claim review has been delayed as a result of the current industrial action. [25226]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The contingency plans that have been put in place during the current dispute have meant that all new claims have been dealt with quickly with customers receiving appropriate payments.

Claim reviews—including fortnightly reviews for claimants of jobseeker's allowance—have in general continued to be carried out during the course of the industrial action, although in some locations these have been deferred to ensure the most vulnerable customers are dealt with as quickly as possible. No figures are available centrally on the number of such deferrals.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many days each (a) Employment Service office, (b) Benefits Agency office and (c) JobCentre Plus office has been closed as a result of the current industrial action. [25227]

17 Jan 2002 : Column 459W

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The number of offices closed as a result of the national industrial action taken on 12 and 13 December was 75 out of a total of more than 1,650 offices.

The number of days on which offices involved in the continuous industrial action have been closed is 85, involving between four and six offices, up to and including 17 December 2001.


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