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Mr. McCartney [holding answer 26 February 2002]: We regularly receive representations on all aspects of state retirement pension entitlement from a variety of organisations and interested individuals.
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 27 February 2002]: Foster carers whose allowance contains a reward element may be liable for national insurance contributions on a self-employed basis. Where there is no liability, they may choose to pay voluntary contributions to assist in qualifying for state retirement pension. Foster carers who receive child benefit for their own children under aged 16 will be eligible for home responsibilities protection. We will keep these arrangements under review as we do with all rules relating to benefits.
Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what pension arrangement foster carers are entitled to; and if he will make a statement on support for those who give up work to care for foster children. 
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 27 February 2002]: Foster carers whose allowance contains a reward element may be liable to pay national insurance contributions as a self-employed person. Those who have no liability may choose to pay voluntary contributions to assist them to qualify for basic state retirement pension. Where a foster carer receives child benefit for a child of their own aged under 16, they will be eligible for home responsibilities protection. We will keep these arrangements under review as we do with all rules relating to benefits. Married women of pensionable age will be entitled to a retirement pension of 60 per cent. of their husband's entitlement when he reaches state pension age and makes a claim.
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direction issued to Hackney Council for the improvement of its administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit. 
Malcolm Wicks: The housing benefit direction issued on 12 October 2001 to the London borough of Hackney, under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999, required the authority to achieve the following:
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 26 February 2002]: Such information as is available is in the table. We cannot calculate an annual cost as this is dependent upon the individual's circumstances at pension age.
1. Figures are subject to sampling error.
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand and are shown in thousands.
3. These figures are the number of individuals entitled to HRP. They include those who have not used it to reduce the number of years needed for a full basic state retirement pension.
4. 199697 figures are the latest available.
Figures are taken from the Lifetime Labour Market Database (LLMDB), which is a 1 per cent. sample from the National Insurance Recording System (NIRS).
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 20 March 2002]: We are 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.
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Our new Jobcentre Plus service ensures that people making new or repeat claims to incapacity benefit have the opportunity of work-focused advice and support from a personal adviser so they can be helped to move into work when they are ready to do so.
|Number of people unemployed||Number of people claiming incapacity benefit|
1. All figures are rounded to the nearest hundred. Incapacity benefit data are collected quarterly in May, August, November and February of each year.
2. Incapacity benefit figures include national insurance credits only cases.
3. From 13 April 1995 people of pension age were no longer able to claim incapacity benefit. Incapacity benefit recipients already over pension age could continue to receive incapacity benefit for up to five years after state pension age.
4. Unemployment figures have been seasonally adjusted.
5. Figures are for Great Britain.
1. Office for National Statistics: count of claimants of unemployment-related benefits from Benefits Agency computer systems.
2. Incapacity benefit figures are taken from 5 per cent. samples of the incapacity benefit computer system and exclude a small number of cases held clerically.
As part of this allocation, the Community Care Grant budget will be increased by £5 million to £108 million. The loans budget will be £518 million, an increase of £1.4 million over that allocated in April 2001.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, North, (b) Staffordshire and (c) England he expects to have a guaranteed income of £98 per week from next April; and if he will make a statement. 
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Nationally there are over 1.7 million pensioners claiming the MIG. By April 2002 a single pensioner will be at least £15 a week better off in real terms than in 1997 from the MIG rises. A pensioner couple will be well over £23 a week better off.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what targets he sets for (a) enrolment, (b) programme completion and (c) permanent employment for the New Deal for Disabled People; and if he will make a statement on the extent to which such targets have been achieved. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 20 March 2002]: The New Deal for Disabled People is testing new and innovative ways of helping people on incapacity benefits into work. Although Job Brokers have provided indications of planned take-up, these are commercial in confidence. No targets have been set for enrolment, programme completion or permanent employment.
Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 20 March 2002]: Under the New Deal for Disabled People, sustained employment is defined as employment lasting six months or more. As the programme only became available nationally from July 2001, it is not yet possible to provide a meaningful figure for job placements resulting in sustained employment nor therefore a figure for the cost per sustained job achieved.
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