Previous Section Index Home Page

5 Nov 2002 : Column 197W—continued

Benefits Agency Staff

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were employed in the Benefits Agency in the last year for which figures are available; how many staff are expected to be employed in (a) Jobcentre Plus, (b) the Pension Service and (c) each of the other bodies that are replacing the Benefits Agency, once they are fully introduced; and if he will make a statement on how the overall reduction in staff will be managed. [78332]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on the numbers of staff in the Benefits Agency at the latest available point, 31 March 2002 is in the following table. Also included are figures for the Employment Service.

Position as at 31 March 2002

Benefits Agency66,726
The Employment Service32,881


The figures are whole time equivalents

5 Nov 2002 : Column 198W

Jobcentre plus and the pension service expect their roll out to be complete by 2005–06 but individual businesses are still developing their staffing plans for the next three years.

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions as at 1st October how many people received benefits and pensions, from his Department paid in cash at Post Offices; and how many of these, at date of commencement or other point prior to 1 October, have been offered the opportunity to have their benefits or pension paid directly into a bank account. [77881]

Malcolm Wicks: Approximately 58 per cent. of claimants currently receive their benefit and pensions in cash at the Post Office and 42 per cent are paid direct into their bank or building society account.

As Automated Credit Transfer (ACT) became available for individual benefits at different times, it is not possible to say how many customers were offered the opportunity to have their benefits or pension paid directly into a bank or building society account at the time of making the claim.

Community Care Grants

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will (a) review the operation of Community Care Grants; and (b) introduce a system of grants for particular life events and needs, available to anyone on a low income. [79216]

Malcolm Wicks: The Social Fund targets the available help on the neediest people in our society.

The Social Fund provides non-repayable Community Care Grants for vulnerable people in a variety of circumstances and we have already introduced improvements to the scheme. For example, the qualifying conditions have been extended to help people setting up home in the community who have been without a settled way of life, and we have increased the annual budget for grants from #97 million in 1997 to #108 million today.

The Fund already provides grants for easily identifiable life events through maternity and funeral payments. The discretionary nature of the Community Care Grants scheme enables it to meet a wide range of needs which a wholly regulated scheme could not.

Contacts (Health and Safety)

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason there was a decrease in the number of contacts with premises by Health and Safety Executive inspectors between 1996–97 and 2000–01. [78447]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The number of regulatory contacts made by Health and Safety Executive staff for each year between 1996–97 and 2001–02 is given in the table. Overall there has been a 3 per cent. fall in numbers over the period. The reduction is a reflection of the increase in both the quantity and complexity of HSE's reactive work in carrying out investigations. The numbers of investigations has increased from 27,889 in 1996–97 to 37,855 in 2001–02, a rise of 35 per cent.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 199W

A balanced programme of inspections and investigations is necessary to secure improvements in workplace health and safety.

The majority of regulatory contacts were made by inspectors; a small proportion, approximately 10,000 in 2001–02, were made by workplace contact officers (WCOs). The WCOs are a small team dedicated to providing advice and information specifically to small and medium sized enterprises.

Regulatory contacts


A regulatory contact includes preventive inspections, investigators, advisory visits, and enforcement visits.

Deferred Pensions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have opted to defer receiving their basic state pension in each year since 1988; and what the average length of time is for which people have chosen to defer their pension. [78334]

Mr. McCartney : The information is not available in the format requested that around three per cent of people who reached state pension age five years ago deferred claiming their basic state pension. On average, these individuals deferred their basic state pension for almost two years.

Employment Action Teams

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what criteria were used to decide the electoral wards of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne that have the service of employment action teams; how those wards scored on those criteria; how (a) Wingrove, (b) Fenham, (c) Blakelaw, (d) Moorside and (e) Sandyford wards scored on those criteria; and when the criteria will next be reviewed. [78762]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The wards being targeted by the Newcastle upon Tyne Action Team for Jobs were selected because their working age employment rate was 58.5 per cent. or below, at 10 April 2001 when selection took place. All other wards in the City of Newcastle local authority area, including Wingrove, Fenham, Blakelaw, Moorside and Sandyford, had employment rates above this figure at the time of selection. The wards targeted by the Action Team will be reviewed if there is a significant depopulation of the client groups in any of them.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 200W


Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the annual administrative cost is of sending girocheques to Mrs Kathleen Lonsdale of Westerlands Residential Home Kingsbridge. [78323]

Malcolm Wicks: Information about individuals is confidential and not disclosed under part 2 paragraph 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government information.

However, the current administrative cost of sending on girocheque is #1.47


Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the record of the Health and Safety Executive in investigating (a) reported major injuries to trainees and (b) major injuries to people on work experience in the last year for which figures are available. [78446]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Health and Safety Executive does not highlight or target any particular group of workers when selecting incidents for investigation, all workers are treated the same. Enforcement of health and safety is conducted according to the HSC's published Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS). Major injuries to trainees and to people on work experience are likely to satisfy criteria published in the EPS and if they do, would be selected for investigation.

New Deal

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) young people, (b) over 50s and (c) people with a disability have signed up for the New Deal in Tamworth. [78841]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The available information is in the table.

ProgrammeCumulative number of participants in the Tamworth constituency
New Deal for young people (NDYP)1,150
New Deal 50 plus130


1. Figures are from start of the programme to June 2002 for NDYP, and to August 2002 for New Deal 50 plus.

2. Constituency level information is not available for the New Deal for disabled people.

Pension Schemes

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pension schemes have started the winding-up process in each year since 1997; and how many pension scheme members have been affected in each year as a result, broken down into (a) pensioners and (b) people who had not retired when the winding-up began. [78333]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 201W

YearNumber of schemes started to wind upNumber of members in schemes started to wind up
2002(11) 1,40540,158

(11) To date


1. The information is based on data held by the Pension Schemes Registry (PSR). It includes all types of pension schemes. The figures are for calendar years.

2. The figures are the sum of those live schemes that have reported they are winding up and those schemes accepted by the PSR as winding up. The latter are schemes where the principal employer has gone into liquidation and they were the sole trustees. The figures do not include schemes that may not have reported to the PSR.

3. The PSR system holds information on the most recent change in scheme status, so schemes which were frozen or closed in earlier years may figure in the wind up figures for a later year. Trustees are required to report changes within 12 months so there is likely to be a lag before the data reflects what is happening currently.

4. Before 1997 figures for starting the wind up of schemes were not categorised:they were subsumed within figures for live scheme. The category of schemes in the process of wind up was introduced gradually. The category for schemes notifying that they were winding up was introduced before the category for schemes accepted by the PSR as winding up. Where an actual date was unavailable the current date was used.

5. The information related to schemes, not employers. Some employers operate several schemes.

6. The numbers of members shown include active, deferred and pensioner members. PSR does not hold data broken down by type of member, as this is not required for their purposes.

Next Section Index Home Page