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Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what percentage of CSA cases where the resident parent is (a) a private client and (b) not a private client, (i) the non-resident parent paying regular child maintenance and (ii) the identity and contact details of the non-resident parent are known to the agency. [81955]

Malcolm Wicks: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mr. Doug Smith to Mr. Andrew Turner, dated November 2002:

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Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether a claim for Disability Living Allowance in respect of ME may be classified as relating to mental illness. [87128]

Maria Eagle: Entitlement to Disability Living Allowance depends on the effects that severe physical or mental disability has on a person's need for personal care and/or their ability to walk, and not on particular disabilities or diagnoses. The benefit is available to people with myalgic encephalomyelitis (which can have a physical basis or a psychological basis, or can be due to a combination of factors) on exactly the same terms as other severely disabled people, and they can qualify for it provided that they meet the usual entitlement conditions.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the cost of extending entitlement to the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance to the over-65s. [87750]

Maria Eagle: Up to date estimates are not available. However, information from the 1996–97 Disability Survey suggested that the annual cost of extending entitlement to the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance to people who claim after the age of 65 would be in the region of #2.7 billion 1 .

Disabled People (Opportunities)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures are in place to (a) encourage employers to increase the opportunities offered to disabled people and (b) challenge people to donate time to charitable and community projects in the European Year of Disabled People. [86867]

Maria Eagle: Jobcentre Plus will continue to operate a number of measures involving employers during the European Year of Disabled People. Programmes such as WORKSTEP, Access to Work, the Job Introduction Scheme, and Work Preparation will identify job opportunities and help disabled people into work.

We have launched a project fund of #2.3 million to enable a wide range of disability organisations to undertake community projects across the country. We are sponsoring more than 170 projects.

In addition we are using the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) for the European Year to encourage participation among its membership organisations. These include the Federation of Small Businesses, the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress, and a range of organisations representing disabled people.

Employers Liability Insurance

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many inspections have been undertaken in North Staffordshire to measure compliance with the requirement for companies to have current employers liability insurance. [84048]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are not able to break down information specifically for North Staffordshire. Information available covers the Marches area, which comprises Shropshire and Staffordshire.

During the period 1 April 2002 to 30 September 2002 HSE recorded a total of 117 contacts with companies where Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) was covered in the Marches area. These contacts were achieved by a combination of visits and phone calls.

The display of a valid certificate for employers liability insurance is one of a number of issues covered by HSE Inspectors and Workplace Contact Officers. There were four occasions in the Marches area during the period April to September 2002, where a valid certificate of employer's liability could not be produced. In each case HSE made a statutory request ('Notice to Produce') for its production. All four companies complied with the request within the stated period.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what timetable has been established for the review of employers' liability insurance. [87481]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement I gave on 12 December 2002, Official Report, columns 23–24WS.

Hand-written Medical Reports

Mr. Lepper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many hand-written medical reports in relation to (a) Attendance Allowance, (b) Disability Living Allowance and (c) Incapacity Benefit were prepared by doctors employed by Medical Services or its predecessors, in the five years to October 2001; how many of these reports were completed by a person other than the relevant doctor; how many completed by someone other than the relevant doctor were the subject of disability appeal tribunal hearings; in how many of the cases, which were the subject of appeal, the original decision was altered on the basis of medical evidence; and how many claimants sought and received copies of the hand-written medical reports. [86118]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: In the period 1 September 1998 to 31 October 2001 790,023 Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance reports and 1,450,554 Incapacity Benefit reports were completed. No records are kept of the number of reports completed before the contract for Medical Service was let in September 1998.

All reports were provided by approved doctors and were hand written. In July 2001 Medical Services were made aware of two reports which had been completed by another person, from contemporaneous notes made by the approved doctor, in the interests of better legibility. As a result, guidance was issued to all doctors that no report for Medical Services can be hand written by any person other than the relevant doctor.

As the Department does not keep records of the information used by a decision maker in individual cases it is not possible to identify the number of appeals related to reports completed by someone other than the

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relevant doctor. Neither is it possible to identify cases where the original decision was altered on the basis of medical evidence.

The Department does not keep records of requests made for copies of medical reports.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his officials have met the Social Security Advisory Committee to discuss the regulations concerning housing benefit reform; and whether the Committee has requested the referral of the regulations. [83870]

Malcolm Wicks: We are fully committed to involving the Social Security Advisory Committee in the drafting of new regulations supporting Housing Benefit reform.

Officials have met the Committee to provide an initial introduction to Housing Benefit reform, and draft regulations will be presented to the Committee early in the new year. The Committee will then decide whether they wish the regulations to be referred formally.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have had income from a private pension or permanent health insurance taken into account for the purposes of calculating their incapacity benefit claiming and what the average reduction in benefit has been for people affected in this way. [86717]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Incapacity Benefit (IB) exists to provide a measure of earnings replacement for people of working age who are incapable of work. Where a person is duplicating this provision, the law provides for this to be taken into account.If a person claiming IB receives an occupational pension, personal pension or payments through a permanent health insurance scheme of #85 per week or more, their IB is reduced by half the amount which exceeds #85. Only people making claims from 6 April 2001 are affected by the new rules.

As of 31 August 2002, 17,500 people have had their IB reduced under these rules with an average reduction of #33.18.

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