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Benefits Decision Makers

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will remove the overall responsibility from decision makers on benefit entitlement to more senior officials; and if he will make a statement. [54152]

Maria Eagle: No. Decisions on benefit claims and applications are made by the Secretary of State. In practice he delegates this function to decision makers who are suitably trained and experienced. The seniority of the decision maker is not pertinent. The important point is whether the decision maker has the requisite skills to do the job to the required standard.

Income Support

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the ratio of income support and its precursor to basic retirement pension for a single person was in each of the last 30 calendar years. [53942]

Mr. McCartney: The benefit system has undergone radical changes in the last 30 years. For this reason, it is not possible to compare like with like. From 1972 until 1988, supplementary benefit was in payment. The assessment of entitlement for supplementary benefit was complex, and the introduction of income support addressed and simplified this assessment. Income support continues to be paid through the minimum income guarantee. There were considerable differences between the benefits, for example, on some occasions, supplementary benefit was uprated

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twice a year. The figures quoted are based on benefit years (April to March) rather than calendar years—rates may be different to published rates as they represent an average over the benefit year, eg in 2002 MIG was uprated on 9 April therefore we have assumed there were eight days when MIG was still at the old rate.

For the purposes of this question, all figures quoted are in nominal terms for the appropriate year, eg 1972 rates are quoted in 1972 price terms and reflect the basic entitlement of a single pensioner aged 65 to 75.

The information requested is in the table.

Benefit rates by year from 1 April to 31 March

Supplementary benefit/MIG (£)Basic state pension (BSP) (£)Ratio MIG/BSP

Pension-related Benefits

James Purnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of how much money would be accrued by the delay in payment of pension-related benefits by two years at age 67 years. [54338]

Mr. McCartney: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him on 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 1011W.

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Under-fives Provision (Liverpool)

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding she has made available for provision for under- fives in Liverpool in each year since 1997; and how much she plans to make available in 2002–03. [51942]

Margaret Hodge: We have made a number of direct grant funding streams available to Liverpool local education for under fives' provision:

The table shows the amount of central Government funding made available to Liverpool local education authority for the provision of early years education, the National Childcare Strategy and Sure Start between the 1997–98 and 2001–02 financial years as well as estimates of the funding that will be available in the 2002–03 financial years.


Early years education fundingNational childcare strategySure start revenue funding

(18) Allocation.


In 1997–98, all four-year-old nursery education places were funded through specific grant. In 1998–99 only four-year-old places in the private, voluntary and independent sectors and new places in the maintained sector were funded through specific grant. Existing maintained places are funded by local authorities from their resources.

Since 2001–02 four-year-old nursery education places have been funded by local education authorities from their resources.

Specific funding for the provision of free early education places for three year olds was introduced in September 1999.

Head Teachers

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the new requirements (a) placed on and (b) removed from head teachers in the last year for which information is available. [52120]

Mr. Timms: The main changes to requirements on head teachers made during 2001–02 are as follows:

During 2001–02, the right to mainstream education for children with special educational needs was strengthened. Where particular mainstream schools do not wish to

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educate children with statements of SEN, they will have to show that the education of such children is incompatible with the provision of efficient education for other children, and that there are no reasonable steps they can take to prevent this incompatibility. The revised SEN Code of Practice has been designed to decrease bureaucracy while improving the SEN framework. The Code includes guidance on the new duty for head teachers to ensure that a Transition Plan is drawn up for pupils with statements of SEN in year nine of their schooling.

In 2001–02, head teachers prepared for the introduction of Consistent Financial Reporting, which will benefit all schools by improving the framework for benchmarking, as well as streamlining financial administration. Head teachers had to implement modest changes to target setting for Key Stage 4. They also had to process claims for the Welcome Back Bonus, an incentive to encourage teachers returning to the profession.

Administration of the Standards Fund was considerably simplified last year, so that head teachers and others had much less paperwork to contend with in securing additional funds for their schools. Moreover, for the first time it was possible to merge schools' annual reports with prospectuses, again freeing up valuable head teacher time.

Wanless Report

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the costs to further and higher education of the expansion of the NHS set out in the Wanless report. [52442]

Margaret Hodge: Following a review of the medical workforce, published in December 1997, and the commitments made in the NHS Plan in July 2000, the number of places available to study medicine in England will increase to almost 6,000 in 2005–06. Of the additional places, over 45 per cent. will be at new medical schools or centres of medical education. The report "Securing Our Future Health: Taking A Long-Term View" (the Wanless report) makes no recommendation for further increasing the number of students entering medical training. The cost of training nurses, midwives, health visitors and other health professionals is met by the NHS.

Sixth Forms

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what formula the Learning and Skills Council uses to determine future funding for school sixth forms. [52510]

Margaret Hodge: The formula for funding school sixth forms is the responsibility of the Learning and Skills Council. I have therefore asked John Harwood, the Council's chief executive, to write to the hon. Member providing the information requested and to place a copy of his reply in the Library.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many sixth forms the LSC expects to experience budget reductions in the current financial year. [52511]

Margaret Hodge: The LSC calculated two figures for each school sixth form—what it would receive under the real terms guarantee which protects funding relative to the baseline year of 2000–01, depending on changes in pupil

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numbers; and what it would receive under the LSC's own funding formula, which reflects the nature and number of programmes being studied. The LSC allocation for the school is the higher of these two figures. Almost two thirds of schools are being funded under the LSC's formula in 2002–03, so are receiving more than they would under the real terms guarantee.

The LSC notified LEAs of the sixth form funding allocations for their schools in early March. It was for LEAs to set overall budgets for all their schools by the end of March, incorporating the LSC allocations. Schools receive the funds from the LEA as one pot of money and are not required to account separately for the LSC allocation. However, LEAs are required under the rules of fair funding to ensure that schools receive for their sixth forms at least the real terms guarantee and one third of any difference between that and the LSC formula allocation, rising to the full amount by 2004.

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