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17 Mar 2003 : Column 596Wcontinued
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements have been put in place by the Youth Justice Board to undertake the work that was being done by The Children's Society's national remand and review initiative. 
Hilary Benn: The Children Society's national remand review initiative, funded by the Youth Justice Board, identifies alternatives for young people in custody who could nonetheless be managed in the community if appropriate support packages were provided.
The Board plans to provide for their work through youth offending teams from April 2003. This will be supported by effective practice guidance, training and an independent study of the scheme's operation to inform future good practice development.
Mr. McCartney: This Government will be spending an additional £1 billion in 200304 as a result of the introduction of pension credit, rising to an additional £2 billion in 200405. Total spending on pension credit in 200405 is projected to be around £6 billion.
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From October 2003 pension credit will provide a guaranteed minimum income for those aged 60 and over. It will ensure pensioners with modest savings no longer lose a pound of pensions or other savings they have built up.
It has been designed so that customers will find it easy to apply for, it will be simpler, fairer, less intrusive and bureaucratic. The weekly means test will be abolished so for those people over 65 they will need only to report major life events, with the majority of people not having to notify changes in their financial circumstances for a period of five years.
Nearly two million people are benefiting from minimum income guarantee and the take up campaign has put an average £20 a week extra in the pockets of 149,000 people who would not have received it otherwise. In the hon. Member's constituency around 1,500 people receive this entitlement.
From April 2003, basic State Pension will be £77.45 for singles (£123.80 for couples). An increase of £100 a year for single people and £160 a year for couples. In future years the basic State Pension will increase by 2.5 per cent. or the level of the September RPI, whichever is higher.
Last winter (200102) over eight million households benefited from the £200 Winter Fuel Payment, worth around £4 a week. It will continue at this rate for the rest of this Parliament. Some 18,305 people in the Huntingdon constituency received a Winter Fuel Payment for last winter.
All in all, we will be spending around £7.5 billion extra on pensioners in 200304 as a result of the measures introduced since 1997. This includes around £3.5 billion that is being spent on the poorest third of pensioners.
Mr. McCartney: Our priority has always been to focus help on those who need it most, that is why we introduced the Minimum Income Guarantee. As a result, nearly two million people are benefiting from Minimum Income Guarantee and the take up campaign has put an average £20 a week extra in the pockets of 149,000 people who would not have received it otherwise. In the hon. Member's constituency around 3,400 people are in receipt of the Minimum Income Guarantee.
WE are now going a step further and introducing Pension Credit which will reward not penalise saving. The poorest third of pensioners will be at least £1,500 a year better off than in 1997 due to this Government's tax and benefit changes.
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Around half of all pensioner households will be eligible for Pension Credit and, on average, stand to gain around £400 a year. Pension Credit will be simple to apply for, and signals the end of the intrusive weekly means test that pensioners find so demeaning.
It will also ensure pensioners, aged 65 and over with modest savings, no longer lose a pound of pensions or other savings they have built up. Pensioners will receive 60p for every pound of income they have between the level of the savings credit threshold and the guarantee level potentially giving them a maximum reward of £14.79 (£19.20 for couples). Above this level the savings credit will reduce progressively, with those on incomes over £139 for single pensioners (£203 for couples) ceasing to be entitled. (These limits will be higher for those with special needs or extra payments).
23. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what financial incentives he has put in place for small and medium-sized enterprises to increase their workforce; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Jobcentre Plus provides high quality services to employers, helping them to fill job vacancies quickly and effectively with well-prepared and motivated employees. This activity works in tandem with our welfare to work programmes, which are providing thousands of people with the skills, experience and confidence they need to succeed in the modern labour market.
Malcolm Wicks: The card account is just one of three account options available to customers. We are running an information campaign to highlight all the options available, including access at a post office. We are writing to benefit and pensions recipients with detailed information about all the options available to them, including the post office card account. Customers can also call the Direct Payment Information line if they have any questions about changing to direct payment.
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Maria Eagle: We are currently working to remind businesses of their current and future duties under the DDA including commissioning national advertising, organising regional events, developing a regional award scheme for best practice and mailshots to business organisations. We are also working with the Disability Rights Commission on further publicity leading up to introduction of the new Part 3 duties in October 2004.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Department spent on advertising in Scotland in each year since 1999 on (a) television, (b) newspapers, (c) radio, (d) magazines, (e) billboards and (f) sporting events. 
Mr. McCartney: The Department for Work and Pensions advertises extensively in Scotland. However most of the campaigns are national so disaggregating the costs for advertising and media for any one region or country is only possible at disproportionate cost.
Our current Pensions Green Paper 'Simplicity, security and choice: Working and saving for retirement' reinforces our commitment to extend employment opportunities for people with a range of proposals including providing extra back to work help for over 50s, piloting local agents in the business community to help employers to realise the benefits of recruiting and retaining older workers, and a number of changes to tax and pension rules which will give individuals more choice and opportunity to stay in work longer. We have also made it clear that in the forthcoming age legislation compulsory retirement ages are likely to be unlawful, unless employers can show they are objectively justified. Employers will therefore need to adopt more flexible approaches to retirement.
We are already encouraging employers to adopt non-ageist employment practices through our Age Positive Campaign. The campaign raises employers' awareness of the business benefits of an age diverse workforce and encourages a flexible approach to retirement to open up choice and opportunity for individuals to stay in work longer.
In 1999, we published the Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment which sets out the standards for non-ageist approaches to recruitment, training, promotion, redundancy and retirement. The code was developed with leading organisations including the CBI, TUC, the Employers Forum on Age and Age Concern. Evaluation shows that from 1999 to 2001 the number of companies using age in recruitment had already fallen from 27 per cent. to 13 per cent. and the number of companies having a policy against employing older workers had dropped from 14 per cent to 7 per cent.
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Since then we have continued to promote the business case for recruiting, training and retaining older workers through the Age Positive campaign, workshops for smaller businesses, and publications including 'Good Practice in the Recruitment and Retention of Older Workers' (December 2001), 'Flexible Retirement: A Snapshot of Large Employers' Initiatives' (June 2002) and during Age Positive week, in December 2002 we published 'Age Diversity at Work: a practical guide for business'. The campaign has been attracting considerable media coverage and about 30,000 visits a month to the Age Positive website www.agepositive.gov.uk.
From spring 1997 to spring 2002, our policies have helped increase the employment rate for people aged 50 to state pension age from over 64 per cent. to over 68 per cent. with nearly 900,000 more people aged 50 and over in work. This increase has been faster than the increase in the overall employment rate. Under New Deal 50 plus 92,000 people aged over 50 have moved off benefits and gone back to work from April 2000 to December 2002, claiming the programme's cash employment credit. We will build on this support to further increase the employment rate of older workers who have a wealth of skills and experience that can benefit individual businesses and the economy as a whole.
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