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Disability Benefits

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has (a) to introduce a one-stop shop service for access to disability benefits and services provided by his Department and (b) to encourage local authorities to adopt a similar approach in relation to their services. [35575]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: This Government are committed to transform public services to make them more convenient and accessible. From April this year, JobCentre Plus and the Pension Service will take over from the Employment Service and the Benefits Agency. JobCentre Plus will provide work related and benefit related services to customers of working age through a national network of integrated JobCentre Plus offices. Customers will be able to access the full range of disability benefits through JobCentre Plus offices. The Pension Service will provide a national network, working with local authorities, voluntary organisations and others to provide a service for today's and tomorrow's pensioners.

An important initiative, which will help improve access to services including disability benefits for people over 60, is Care Direct, which is being piloted jointly by the Department of Health, Department for Work and Pensions and six local authorities. A key aim of Care Direct is to provide older people with a single gateway to get information about, and access to social care, health, housing and benefits, including disability benefits. The pilots are examining in a practical way, how central government, local government and the voluntary sector can work together to improve access to services.

The six local authorities piloting Care Direct are now operational and will be evaluated later this year.

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young people aged 0 to 16 are in receipt of a disability benefit; and what percentage of households in which a young person is in receipt of such a benefit have an income of less than 60 per cent. of the median household income. [33010]

Maria Eagle: Such information as is available is as follows:

At 31 August 2001, about 243,300 people aged 16 or under in Great Britain were receiving disability living allowance. The latest available estimates, which relate to 1999–00, indicate that the proportion of this group of young people who were living in households with below 60 per cent. of median income was 11 per cent. on a 'Before Housing Costs' basis, or 14 per cent. 'After Housing Costs'.

The Government have introduced several measures from April 2001 to help families with disabled children. The higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance has been extended to severely disabled children aged three or four, providing extra help to their families

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of £38.65 a week. In addition, the disabled child premium in the income-related benefits has been increased to £30 a week—£7.40 more than the normal uprating. Finally, the new disability income guarantee helps 33,000 families with severely disabled children, providing an extra £11.05 a week for each disabled child.






Benefit Downrating (Hospital Patients)

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the annual costs to his Department were in each of the last three years of administering the downrating of benefits during hospital stays. [35580]

Mr. McCartney: The Benefit Agency's administration costs are published in the Benefits Agency annual report and accounts 2000–01, copies of which are available in the Library. The costs are not broken down to the detail required, but the current estimated staff costs for administering these rules is around £0.5 million. The information is not available for previous years.

Job Trials

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the new rules for job trials effective from 8 April. [35577]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 8 January 2002, Official Report, columns 685–86W.

Winter Fuel Allowance

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each of the last two years who were in receipt of the (a) middle and (b) higher care component of the disability living allowance in the (i) UK and (ii) London borough of Hillingdon were also eligible for the winter fuel allowance. [34525]

Mr. McCartney: The number of disability living allowance recipients receiving the higher or middle rate care component who are aged 60 or over in Great Britain and Hillingdon are given in the tables. Such people will be eligible for a winter fuel payment unless one of the exclusions applies.

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Number of DLA recipients in Great Britain aged 60 or over
Thousand

YearHigher rate careMiddle rate care
2000132.4183.6
2001147.7199.6

Number of DLA recipients in Hillingdon aged 60 or over
Thousand

YearHigher rate careMiddle rate care
2000*0.30.6
2001*0.40.6

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred

2. Figures are at 31 August each year

3. Figures under 500 marked '*' are subject to a high degree of sampling error and should be used only as a guide to the current situation

Source:

ASD Information Centre: 5 per cent. data


Disability Discrimination Act

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the impact of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. [34659]

Maria Eagle: The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has not yet been fully implemented but indications are that those parts of the DDA that are in force are proving to be effective and that disabled people are making use of it. Research indicates that awareness levels are increasing and changes are being made to employers' and service providers' policies and practices.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he intends to provide an answer to the question from the hon. Member for Isle of Wight of 19 November 2001 [Ref 16113]. [35516]

Mr. McCartney: I provided an answer to hon. Member's question on 28 January 2002, Official Report, column 47W.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases have been dealt with in each year by the Minimum Income Guarantee helpline; and if he will make a statement. [33924]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested can be found in the table.

Telephone calls dealt with by minimum income guarantee (MIG) claimline

Number
2000(32)630,083
2001(32)190,231
2002(33)15,453

(32) January to December

(33) January only


The MIG claim line has also processed a total of 408,508 freepost requests for a clerical MIG claim form since 29 March 2000.

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Fair Trade

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to encourage participation by his Department in Fair Trade Fortnight from 4 to 17 March. [33548]

Mr. McCartney: The Department obtains the majority of fair trade goods from outsourced services, for example catering. The Department does not require its suppliers to take part in specific events. However, we expect them to be ethical in their business dealings and would expect them to support fair trade events of this sort.


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