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Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what impact Statutory Instrument 2002, No. 648 will have on the eligibility to claim disability living allowance by those with (a) visual and hearing impairments, (b) heart disease, (c) asthma, (d) epilepsy, (e) ME/CFS and (f) bowel disease. 
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Maria Eagle: Entitlement to disability living allowance is based on the claimant's need for personal care and/or walking difficulties which result from their severe disability. The claimant's medical condition is not, necessarily, the key factor.
This statutory instrument, the Social Security (Disability Living Allowance) (Amendment) Regulations 2002, makes clear that "fear or anxiety" experienced when walking out of doors can be taken into account for entitlement to the lower rate mobility component of disability living allowance only where they are a symptom of a mental disability. It does not alter the basic qualifying criteria for the lower rate mobility component, which require a person to be so severely disabled physically or mentally that they are unable to walk out of doors on unfamiliar routes without guidance or supervision from another person most of the time. The eligibility of claimants with any of the disabilities listed in the question will be unaffected by the statutory instrument except where their claims are based on 'fear or anxiety' experienced in these circumstances.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost would be of (a) extending the period from four to 13 weeks of an adult's stay in hospital before disability living allowance or attendance allowance is removed and (b) extending the period form 12 to 26 weeks before DLA is withdrawn for a child. 
Maria Eagle: SERPS has served many people well but, because it is purely earnings-related, people on the lowest earnings gain least, and carers and disabled people who cannot work, or earn very little, get nothing at all.
When state second pension is launched on 6 April, 18 million people will start to build up bigger pension entitlements. Some 4.5 million low-paid employees (those earning up to £10,800 in 200203) will get at least twice as much additional pension as a person earning £10,800 would have got from SERPS. In addition 2 million qualifying carers and a similar number of long-term disabled people with broken work records will benefit from state second pension. They will be treated, for state second pension purposes, as if they had annual earnings at the low earnings threshold, £10,800 for 200203.
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Enhanced national insurance rebates and state second pension "top-ups" will ensure that low and moderately paid employees who are contracted-out into private pensions will also benefit from the reforms.
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which local authorities have not sent information requested or expected by the Department relating to housing benefit administration in 2001; on which occasions figures have been estimated for non-responding local authorities; and what action the Department takes against non-responding local authorities. 
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to reform subsidies to local authorities for housing benefit administration so they become performance related. 
Malcolm Wicks: We have already increased housing benefit administration subsidy for the year 200102 to £166 million, in 200203 it will increase to £170 million and to £174 million in 200304. This three-year settlement provides local authorities with stability, enabling them to plan more effectively for the future administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Local authorities will be able to self assess their performance against challenging standards that go beyond the core measures of speed, accuracy and basic security and address wider issuescustomer service, housing need and anti-poverty objectives.
In April 2001 we launched a new anti-fraud incentive scheme which means that local authorities who uncover more fraud and prosecute fraudsters can expect to receive greater financial reward than before. 63 authorities are
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currently on the scheme, the rest will join in April 2002. The scheme offers additional reward to those authorities who operate the Verification Framework.
|Income support recipients||Minimum income guarantee recipients|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred, and are based on a 5 per cent. sample which is subject to a degree of sampling variation.
2. Minimum income guarantee for pensioners is defined as income support recipients where the recipient and/or partner are aged 60 or over.
Income Support Quarterly Statistical Inquiry, November 2001
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when current customers of the Child Support Agency will enter the new scheme starting in April; and what plans he has for the implementation of the new plan for existing customers. 
Malcolm Wicks: I refer the hon. Member to the Statement made to this House by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, on 20 March 2002, Official Report, columns 31516. Existing cases will be transferred when the new system has been introduced and we are sure it is working well.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what gender impact assessment was carried out prior to changes being made to arrangements for child maintenance payments; and if he will place a copy of that assessment in the Library. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 March 2002]: Under the legislation, each non-resident parent and each parent with care is treated in the same manner, irrespective of the sex of the individual. The purpose of the reforms to the child support system is to ensure an increase in the amount of support for children, irrespective of their gender.
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Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disqualification orders have been made since the provision came into effect; and how many prosecutions have been mounted for information offences since their introduction. 
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his oral statement of 20 March, if lone parents receiving income support who start to receive child maintenance after April 2002 will qualify for a maintenance disregard; and what plans he has to compensate those who will not qualify because of the delay in implementing the new CSA computer system. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The child maintenance premium is an integral feature of the new child support scheme. Cases assessed under the current rules do not have entitlement to the premium. They accrue, depending on the amount of maintenance paid, a potential entitlement to child maintenance bonus. No question of compensation arises.
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Malcolm Wicks: The new powers, in sections 13 (informationoffences) and 16 (commitment to prison and disqualification from driving), are intended to help the Child Support Agency to secure compliance. Their success is in the extent to which non-resident parents co-operate with the Agency.
In the majority of the cases that the Agency has taken to court, the non-resident parent has been encouraged to make arrangements to pay maintenance. There have been no prosecutions and therefore no convictions made under the criminal offence of non-cooperation with the Child Support Agency. The deterrent effect of a criminal sanction for failing to provide information when requested is an important element of the new system.
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