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Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what dates Ministers in his Department have held meetings with Ministers and officials of the Irish Government since 1 June 2000; where each meeting took place; which Ministers were involved in each meeting; which Irish Government Departments were involved in each meeting; and which Ministers and officials from the Irish Government attended each meeting. 
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Mr. Andrew Smith:
A decision has been made to expand, through negotiation, the existing PFI arrangements under the PRIME contract to include the ex-Employment Service buildings. If these negotiations with the current PFI service provider are not considered to be offering value for money, the Department will seek an alternative commercial solution. Work on an alternative commercial solution is being developed in parallel with the negotiations with the PRIME contract supplier.
Note: PRIME (Private Sector Resource Initiative for Management of the Estate) is a PFI contract let to Trillium (now Land Securities Trillium) in April 1998.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will implement a policy of paying attendance allowance from the date a claim is granted; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) for what purpose there is a six month delay between a decision to grant a claim for attendance allowance and the commencement of payments; and if he will make a statement; 
Maria Eagle: Attendance Allowance is a contribution towards the extra costs incurred by people over the age of 65 who have long-term severe disabilities. Attendance allowance is paid from the date from which it is awarded. There is no delay of six months or any other period and, hence, the circumstances cited by the hon. Member do not arise.
However, Attendance Allowance cannot be awarded unless a severely disabled person has satisfied the conditions of entitlement for a period of at least six months. In some cases, therefore, people can be notified that they have been awarded Attendance Allowance from a prospective date, and that payment will start from that date. The six-month qualifying period establishes that the severe disability, and the extra costs arising from it, are of a long-term nature and ensures that Attendance Allowance is only awarded to people with long-term severe disabilities. We have no plans to change the qualifying period.
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Malcolm Wicks: There is no formula for determining the discretionary Social Fund budget. The size of the national social fund budget is reviewed annually, taking account of forecast loan recoveries for the year ahead. The national budgets for Community Care Grants, loans and the contingency reserve are also reviewed and determined annually.
The discretionary Social Fund budget for 200203 is £627 million and includes increases over the previous year of £1.4 million for the loans budget and an above-inflation cash boost of £5 million for the Community Care Grant budget. Since 1997, the Community Care Grant budget has gone up by £11 million, an increase of over 11 per cent.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total expenditure was in (a) grants and (b) loans from the Social Fund in each year from 1990; what the projected expenditure for the next three years is; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The discretionary Social Fund budget for 200203 is £627 million and includes increases over the previous year of £1.4 million for the loans budget and an above-inflation cash boost of £5 million for the Community Care Grant budget. Since 1997, the Community Care Grant budget has gone up by £11 million, an increase of over 11 per cent.
The national budgets for Community Care Grants, loans and the contingency reserve are reviewed and determined annually taking account of net expenditure and forecast loan recoveries for the year ahead. The planned net expenditure for each year up to and including 200506 is £138.2 million.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many formal and official inter-ministerial meetings his Department has held with the Scottish Executive since May 1999, broken down by (a) Scottish Executive department, (b) subject and (c) date. 
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 16 July 2002, Official Report, column 270W, when members of the Scottish Executive have attended meetings of the EU Advisory Committee on employment; and if he will make a statement. 
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Education and Skills. No member of the Scottish Executive has attended a meeting of the Employment Committee.
There is close contact between the lead Departments and relevant officials in Whitehall and the Devolved Administrations before Committee meetings and copies of briefing are sent to all interested parties, including the Devolved Administrations.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if the Government's pension policy will be reviewed to take account of the overestimation of contributions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: We believe that the overall framework of pension policy is the right one. The Basic State Pension will remain the foundation of income in retirement: while Second pensions are being reformed to help more of tomorrow's pensioners build up better pensions. We have introduced Stakeholder Pensions which are a flexible, low charge product enabling many of those who could not previously do so, to save for their retirement. And, we have put in place the Pension Credit to make sure that it pays to have saved even modest amounts for retirement.
It is important that policy is informed by accurate statistics on pensions contributions. The review of statistics being led by the Office of National Statistics is intended to ensure that in developing our pensions policy we have access to the statistical information required.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will change the rules on payment of interest on mortgages for social security claimants, with special reference to pensioners, where the difference between the average local rate and the standard national rate is greater than two per cent. 
Malcolm Wicks: We have no plans to change the current rules. Unlike most other benefit recipients, pensioners claiming Minimum Income Guarantee can get help with mortgage interest payments from the outset of their claims rather than having to serve a waiting period.
The standard interest rate was introduced in October 1995 and is based upon the weighted average of the basic rates charged by the major building societies. It was introduced as an administrative easement in a complex area of benefit calculation, which had been highlighted in critical reports by the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee. Any changes would re-introduce this complexity and go against our commitment to simplify benefit administration wherever possible.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent on information literature, advertising and campaign material in financial year 200102; if he will list the campaigns that spent over £250,000; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. McCartney [holding answer 22 July 2002]: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001. Since that time and up to the end the 200102 financial year a total of £18.54 million was spent on advertising media and associated production and campaign materials costs.
|New Deal for Disabled People||850,000|
A national campaign to launch NDDP, covering press advertising in national and regional titles, supported by a helpline, website and publicity material.
|New Deal 50 Plus||500,000|
A regional campaign to encourage more of the over-50s into work and to increase their awareness of the local help available.
|New Deal 25 Plus||500,000|
A national campaign to inform the public about changes to the programme through radio advertising, a video and printed materials, supported by research.
PR (including direct mail and partnerships with regional newspaper, sponsoring an award, exhibitions, research and promotional printed material) to raise employers' awareness of the business benefits of employing an age-diverse workforce.
Advertising campaign on local radio to raise awareness of the range of financial initiatives available to those moving from benefits into employment if they meet the qualifying criteria.
A publicity campaign to encourage people to save for their retirement and understand the pension options available to them.
|State Second Pension||463,000|
Development and implementation of publicity to inform carers about how new state pension rules could help themlinked to the overall pensions education campaign.
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Production and distribution of a guide on cross-government help and services for pensioners.
|Winter Fuel Payments||718,000|
Information for people aged 60 plus and advisers about winter fuel payments and activity reminding them to claim and telling them how to claim for winter 2001 and relevant previous winters.
|Changes to rules on inherited SERPS||£459,000|
Publicity about change to the rules on inheriting the State Earnings-Related Pensions Scheme.
A national advertising campaign on television, radio, press and posters to deter dishonest behaviour, reinforced by regional press advertising showing that benefit fraudsters are regularly caught and punished.
|Disability Discrimination Act Awareness||3,000,000|
A national, regional and trade press advertising campaign to raise the public's awareness of the DDA and specifically to encourage service providers to ensure that disabled people have access to their services.
The Department issues many hundreds of publications to ensure people have information about the availability of its services, and are aware of their own rights and responsibilities. Identifying the costs for all those issued during this period would only be possible at disproportionate cost.
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