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Young People

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what subjects and on which dates his Department has consulted organisations representing young people; and if he will list such organisations. [52489]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department is committed to the new core principles for the involvement of children and young people published by the Minister for Children and Young People in November 2001.

The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Overseas Pensioners

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what discussions he has had with the Australian Department of Family and Community Services since the termination of the UK-Australia Pension Agreement on 1 March 2001 about the indexation of pensions in Australia; and if he will make a statement; [46894]

Mr. McCartney: We have had no recent substantive discussions with any Government on the issue of indexation of pensions.

Access to Work Scheme

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications have been received for Access to Work money in (a) the Edinburgh, East and Borders district, (b) Scotland and (c) England and Wales. [53038]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The information available is in the table. Before 2001, Access to Work was delivered through a network of Disability Service Teams in Scotland and information on the number of Access to Work applications in Edinburgh, East and Borders district could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Access to Work applications

Edinburgh, East and BordersScotlandEngland and Wales
2000–0117289211,426
1999–20007039,083
1998–994855,841
1997–983624,800
1996–972873,352
1995–967928,787

Source:

DWP Access to Work Management Information


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Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much money Access to Work has granted to applicants in (a) East Edinburgh and Borders, (b) Scotland and (c) England and Wales. [53039]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The information available is in the table.

Access to Work grants made

Edinburgh East and Borders (£)Scotland (£ million)England and Wales (£ million)
2000–011.2 million2.529.9
1999–2000620,8471.922.5
1998–99379,9751.418.1
1997–98320,1231.113.5
1996–97(6)0.911.6
1995–96(6)1.518.4
1994–95(6)1.114.6

(6) Not available. Figures on actual spend for Edinburgh East and Borders can be provided only as far back as the 1997–98 financial year.

Source:

DWP Access to Work Management Information


Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how long the Access to Work scheme has been funded for; if he plans to end the scheme; and if he will make a statement. [53044]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 7 May 2002]: Access to Work has been funded since June 1994, when the programme began.

There are no plans to end the Access to Work programme. On the contrary, Jobcentre Plus is investing in improvements to the delivery of Access to Work and is implementing changes to improve speed of delivery, consistency of decision-making and aftercare.

Benefit Decision Reviews

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions under what circumstances decisions taken on benefits by decision makers are reviewed; and by whom. [55580]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 10 May 2002]: Decisions taken on benefits can be changed by revision, supersession and appeal. Although there are very limited circumstances when a decision can be revised at any time, the main rule is that a decision would be revised where it is successfully disputed in the month after it has been notified (a period extendable for 12 months where special circumstances apply). The dispute can be made on any ground. A decision would be superseded where there has been a change in the customer's circumstances since the decision was made, or where the decision was successfully challenged outside the one month dispute period on a prescribed ground eg it was made in ignorance

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of or mistake as to a material fact. A decision can also be changed on appeal by an independent appeal tribunal and by the Social Security and Child Support Commissioners.

Ministerial Accommodation

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what publicly owned accommodation is made available to him in his official role; how many nights he has been in residence at each of these properties in the last 12 months; and what the total cost is of maintaining each of these properties. [55100]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 9 May 2002]: None.

Departmental Policies

James Purnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what impact his Department's policies have had on the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency since 1997. [54331]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001 from the former Department of Social Security and parts of the Department for Education and Employment. We are currently undertaking a fundamental overhaul of the welfare system, transforming it from a passive organisation paying out benefits to an active system that fights poverty, creates opportunity and helps people become self-sufficient and independent. This is making a significant contribution to the Government's overall objectives of:


Child benefit is now worth £15.75 a week for the eldest child and £10.55 a week for other children: nationally about 7 million families receive child benefit, and in Stalybridge and Hyde 11,565 families benefit.

The number of people in work is at historically high levels of over 28.2 million. Nearly three quarters of working age people are in employment and in Stalybridge and Hyde the proportion in employment currently stands at 75.5 per cent. Unemployment is at levels last seen in the early 1970s. Our new deals have helped lone parents, the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed, disabled people, the over 50s and partners of the unemployed to move from benefit into work. Nationally well over 600,000 people have been helped into work by the new deals and in Stalybridge and Hyde over 1,300 have been helped into work.

Older people are disproportionately affected by fuel poverty. This winter (2001–02) we have made available a winter fuel payment of £200 for each eligible household to help with their heaviest fuel bill. We estimate that around 15,700 older people in Stalybridge and Hyde have received a payment this winter.

We want all pensioners to have a decent and secure income in retirement and to share fairly in the rising prosperity of the country. Our first priority has been to help the poorest pensioners.

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From April 2002 we will be spending an extra £6 billion a year in real terms on pensioners as a result of our policies. This includes £2.5 billion more on the poorest third of pensioners.

3,500 pensioner families in Stalybridge and Hyde are receiving the minimum income guarantee which helps our poorest pensioners. Some 14,600 pensioners in Stalybridge and Hyde will benefit from this year's increases in the basic state pension of £3 a week for single pensioners and £4.80 for couples. Those over 75, of whom we estimate there are about 6,300 in Stalybridge and Hyde, may qualify for free TV licences.

Other reforms include the new pension credit in 2003 designed to ensure that pensioners benefit from their savings and the introduction of the state second pension from this April. Both of these initiatives will help provide greater security for tomorrow's pensioners. We have also announced that from October 2003 benefits currently reduced after a hospital stay of six weeks will not be reduced until 13 weeks. This will benefit both pensioners and people of working age.


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