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Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners in Wythenshawe and Sale, East who (a) qualify for and (b) claim the minimum income guarantee; and how many will be eligible for the new pension credit. 
Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applicants there have been to date for the minimum income guarantee from pensioners within the Harwich constituency; how many have been approved; and what estimate he has made of the total number of potential applicants. 
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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 pensioner 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. 
Mr. McCartney [pursuant to his reply, 17 January 2002, c. 45960W]: The information requested for (b) is set out in the paper "The Pension Credit: long-term projections", which has been placed in the House Library.
(70) 200102 prices
|Year||All||Over 75s||Over 80s|
1. All costs are for Great Britain.
2. The costs of earnings uprating of the MIG are rounded to the nearest one billion pounds from 2010 onwards. Costs are not available for every year requested.
3. The costs of earnings uprating of the MIG assumes that pensioners' incomes grow over the long term at the same pace as average earnings and the distribution of earnings is the same over time in earnings terms. 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.
4. The costs of earnings uprating of the MIG are calculated as compared to price uprating. Because pensioners' incomes tend to grow over time faster than inflation, the costs of the MIG under price uprating would fall dramatically over time as ever fewer pensioners would be entitled to ever smaller amounts. 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.
5. The costs of increases in the basic state pension and state second pension are net of income related benefit savings that would be generated by these increases.
6. The costs given for earnings uprating of second state pension assume that expenditure on SERPS (accruals up to 200102) would not be affected.
7. The costs of earnings uprating of the state second pension only begin to become significant by 2015 because S2P only begins accruing in 200203 and therefore the amount of S2P in payment will be negligible for some time after that.
8. 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 of 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.
9. 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.
10. The pensioner population is assumed to grow according to GAD's central population growth estimates.
The Government Actuary's Department
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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 22 January 2002, Official Report, column 812W, if he intends to include potential or attributed income from individual private pension funds, not yet annuitised or drawn down, in the assessment of pension credit. 
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he is taking to improve professional expertise and awareness of disability issues by medical assessment staff contracted to his Department. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: All doctors who work for SchlumbergerSema Medical Services on benefit assessments receive mandatory training in disability assessment. This includes assessment of mental health problems, and appropriate behaviours, attitudes, and sensitivities for dealing with people with disabilities.
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All Medical Services doctors participate in a regular programme of continuing professional education, which ensures they maintain up to date knowledge of disabling conditions. The current year's programme includes a module on sensory impairment, which has been developed in consultation with organisations representing people with visual and/or hearing impairments; and a module on rehabilitation.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking in conjunction with other Departments to improve awareness of vocational rehabilitation issues by general practitioners (a) in their initial training and (b) through continuing professional development. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: A major goal of the Government is to help those people who become sick or disabled and who can work to do so, either by retaining their job or by rehabilitating to new employment. The Government recognise the important role that general practitioners play in this area through the treatment they provide to patients of working age and through the advice they provide as certifying medical practitioners.
This Department's Chief Medical Adviser issues guidance to GPs in relation to their role as certifying medical practitioners which stresses the need for clinical management which will encourage and support work retention and rehabilitation. In conjunction with the medical professional bodies this Department has developed training material for GP registrars. This material, along with further information for established GPs, such as evidence based recovery times, can be found on the Department's website www.dwp.gov.uk/medical. This information is also available in the House of Commons Library. We have also supported a project by Staffordshire university to develop a distance learning course for GPs in occupational health and rehabilitation matters. We are planning to develop additional on-line educational tools for GPs which will support work retention and rehabilitation.
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