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Mr. Peter Lloyd : We plan to make information about numbers of family credit claimants in particular areas available shortly. It is not possible to estimate the eligible population in these particular areas.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures showing the family credit ceilings in respect of 1989- 90, for each of the following (a) a married couple with one child under five years, (b) a married couple with two children under 11 years, (c) a married couple with two children 11 to 15 years, (d) a married couple with three children under 11 years, (e) a married couple with three children aged 11, 13 and 15 years, (f) a married couple with two children under 11 years and two children between 11 and 15 years and (g) a married couple with one child under 11 years and one child aged 11 to 15 years.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Provided that the family has no more than £3,000 capital, family credit of 50p a week or more will be payable on net income up to the levels shown in the following table, whether the family has one parent or two. In assessing net income, child benefit and one parent benefit are disregarded.
Family |Net income [NL] |£ (a) One child under 5 (or under 11) |112.51 (b) Two children under 11 |122.94 (c) Two children over 11 but under 16 |138.94 (d) Three children under 11 |133.37 (e) Three children aged 11, 13 and 15 (ie over 11 but under 16) |157.37 (f) Two children under 11 and two children over 11 but under 16 |159.80 (g) One child under 11 and one child over 11 but under 16 |130.94
23. Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average period for which people claiming unemployment benefit in Coventry have received reduced benefits because their unemployment has been termed voluntary.
25. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people in Halifax have claimed, and how many have received, a crisis loan from the social fund ; and if he will make a statement.
26. Mr. Favell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many local offices are currently running ahead of their social fund limits for the current financial year ; and how many have exceeded those limits.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Individual offices may from time to time exceed their anticipated expenditure for the year to date, but there are no indications that any office will be unable to manage its yearly budget allocation. No local office has exceeded its social fund allocation for 1988-89.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the expenditure to date in respect of social fund community care grants, itemised by the amount awarded under Secretary of State direction (i) 4(a)(i), (ii) 4(a)(ii), (iii) 4(a)(iii) and (iv) 4(b).
Column 485by application purpose and client group. Expenditure on community care grants at the end of December is provisionally calculated at £22.8 million of which £1.15 million was paid for travelling expenses under direction 4(b).
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We are making a significant initial investment in our project to relocate some of the work from some London social security offices, but from 1992-93 we expect to save £4 million per year. The net present value of the project over 20 years is £16 million.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Since we published "The Business of Service" report in June 1988, we have received about 50 representations concerning our proposals to move some work out of some London offices. Most of these, however, were based on the mistaken belief that we were planning to close offices in London. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are planning to improve our network of offices in London.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : For our plans for relocating some work from some London local social security offices, I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris) on 16 January, at columns 44-45.
A team of officials is considering options for moving some headquarters work out of London, and we shall make a full announcement of our conclusions in due course.
43. Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many jobs will be involved in the relocation of work from social security offices in London to other parts of the United Kingdom ; and when he expects the relocation to be complete.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : As a direct result of the project to move some work from some London social security offices, we shall be creating 430 jobs in Glasgow, 350 in Belfast and 260 in Ashton-in-Makerfield, near Wigan. Staff savings in London will be approximately 1,200. We expect that the transfer of work involved in this project will be complete by October 1991.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Relocating some work out of 21 London social security local offices is good news for staff. We are creating more than 1,000 high-quality permanent jobs in the regions ; we are taking pressure off our London staff so that they will be able to offer a better face-to- face service and so get more satisfaction from their jobs ; staff in London and in the new social security centres will have a better working environment ; and, since the project is being phased over more than two years, we see no need whatever for staff redundancies in London.
39. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what evidence he has that his Department's local benefit payment offices are giving a better service to the public as a result of recent publicity.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The social security reforms which were introduced last April to make the benefit system easier to understand and to operate have led to real improvements in local office service standards. For example, the average time taken to clear income support claims in 1988-89 has been five days compared with six days the previous year, and there has been a substantial fall in average error rates from 11.6 per cent. in 1987- 88 to 9.6 per cent. in the year to date. In addition, plans are in hand to tackle individual problem areas, such as some inner London offices, by relocating some of the work to parts of the country where it is easier to recruit and retain staff. In the longer term, the computerisation of social security operations will make an increasing impact in improving service delivery standards from mid-1989 onwards.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We are making very good progress in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the social security system. The new benefits introduced in April last year have simplified the system and made it easier to understand, both for claimants and for staff. As a result fewer people are finding it necessary to visit their local social security offices and the time taken to clear benefit claims has been reduced from a national average of six days for the last year of supplementary benefit to five days for the first six months of income support. National error rates have also improved, from 11.6 per cent. to 9.7 per cent. We recognise that further progress still needs to be made and to help with this we are setting improved targets and standards of service. For example, a comprehensive system of quality assessment of local office contacts with the public has been developed.
These changes are complemented by our huge computerisation programme which is transforming the administration of social security, bringing major benefits for the taxpayer and all who use the social security system. Following the successful computerisation of the family credit system in April, trials of the initial version of the new pensions system and the central index system are now under way in the first local offices. A new micro-computer based system has recently been brought into operation for
Column 487the retirement pension forecast service, providing a quick, personalised reply to most inquiries. The public reaction to this has been overwhelmingly favourable. More and more people are taking advantage of the facility which we are providing to have their benefits paid direct into a bank or building society account, and over 1.5 million pensioners are now paid in this way.
We are taking further steps to provide a better and more efficient service to the public by relocating some work away from some of our most hard- pressed local offices. We are considering the manner in which we organise and run our operational systems and, in particular, whether they could with advantage be run as a "Next Steps" agency or agencies. We have an active and ongoing programme of efficiency scrutinies which has yielded savings of more than £80 million and more than 4,000 posts, and we are encouraging our staff to take an active part in helping to improve efficiency through increasing use of the Department's suggestions scheme. This has saved at least £5 million this year alone.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We have no plans at present to meet our European counterparts in a European Community context. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State will be attending a Council of Europe meeting on 13-14 April.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Take-up of community care grants in Manchester has increased significantly in recent months. The combined expenditure of the Manchester offices at the end of October was 27.5 per cent. of their total annual budget allocation and by the end of December this had increased to 45 per cent.
The equivalent national figures were 24 per cent. and 38 per cent. respectively. Nationally, take-up of community care grants reached 77 per cent. of anticipated monthly expenditure in December.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The early indications are encouraging. Claims for income support are being processed more quickly and accurately and a higher percentage are successful than claims for supplementary benefit. They are also generating significantly less appeals--some 34, 000 between 11 April and 31 December 1988 as against 95,000 supplementary benefit appeals over a similar period. This represents a welcome improvement for claimants and staff alike and provides some indications that the new income support scheme is simpler to understand than supplementary benefit.
Column 488A lot of effort has gone into improving the design of the Department's claim forms and leaflets using specialist design consultants as well as the Department's own professional writers and designers. The integrated claim form, combining a claim form and all the information needed by a claimant to establish if he may be entitled, is one of the results. This is proving popular with the public.
All this represents a real step forward from the old supplementary benefit scheme. We will continue to press for further improvements in the service provided as staff and claimants alike become more familiar with the new scheme.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : In addition to our normal publicity arrangements, we shall be mounting a special campaign later this year to publicise the extra help which is being made available to pensioners through the income support and housing benefit schemes from October. As part of that campaign we shall be writing to all pensioners aged 75 and over, whose addresses we hold, to explain the changes.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : It is the long-standing policy of successive Governments that information held for social security purposes may be disclosed on request to the police in a case which involves a missing person under the age of 18. The information is given orally and in confidence and in respect of specific named individuals only.
42. Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his best estimate of the number of widows who have had a reduction in benefits specific to themselves due to changes in circumstances, other than re-marriage, since the changes in regulations in April 1988.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the implications for his policy on widows' pensions of the decision of the social security appeal tribunal at Walthamstow that a widow aged under 45 years is entitled to a widow's pension because changes made to the law in April 1988, which would otherwise disqualify her, are invalid ; and if he will make a statement.
Ms. Richardson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether, in the light of the ruling of the independent social security appeal tribunal at Walthamstow on the change in the age limit for widows' pensions, he has any plans to restore the age limit to 40 instead of 45 years.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : It is for the office of the chief adjudication officer to decide whether or not to seek leave to appeal to the social security commissioner. If the adjudication officer decides not to seek leave to appeal, the tribunal's decision will be implemented in the normal way.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Housing benefit will continue to be available to help those on low incomes meet their liability for rent and rates. Future expenditure plans for housing benefit are contained in the public expenditure White Paper, (Cm. 615).
Mr. Gale : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many benefit claimants in receipt of invalid care allowance, in each of the years 1985-86, 1986-87 and 1987-88, had that benefit disallowed following the death of a husband, the award of widow's benefit and the application of the overlapping benefit regulations ; (2) how many applications for invalid care allowance were received in each of the years 1985-86, 1986-87 and 1987 -88 and refused on the grounds that this allowance overlapped with widow's benefit.
Mr. Scott : I regret that the information requested is not available. The information which is available does not distinguish between women according to their marital status. Since June 1986 (when the allowance was extended to married and cohabiting women) 3, 571 claims from women have been disallowed because they were receiving another social security benefit, equal to or higher than the weekly rate of invalid care allowance (ICA). Payments of ICA to a further group of 4,715 women have been stopped because they have become entitled to another social security benefit equal to or higher than the weekly rate of ICA.
Sir David Price : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will announce the conclusions on the reappraisal of the various options for the equality of treatment of men and women in respect of age eligibility for the state retirement pension, to which he referred on 27 November 1987, Official Report, column 181.
Mr. Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will now consult his advisory committee as to whether a successful claim for an attendance allowance should be backdated to the date of the claim, as opposed to the present requirement for at least six months have passed before the allowance is paid.
Mr. Scott : Attendance allowance may be paid from the date of the claim if at that date the statutory medical conditions have been satisfied throughout the previous six months. The social security advisory committee considered the qualifying period, but did not recommend its general waiver, in its report "Benefits for Disabled People : a strategy for change" published on 29 November. The qualifying period is an aspect of the attendance allowance scheme which we shall look at when we consider the future of disability benefits in the light of the OPCS disability surveys.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects the Isle of Wight office to be linked to the national computer ; and what steps he is taking to speed up computerisation of all benefit offices.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I recently announced that we are accelerating the implementation of our computerisation programme so that all offices will be linked to the mainframe computer systems by mid-1991. Implementation of the systems in the Isle of Wight office is scheduled for the first half of 1991.
Mr. Frank Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how much money was allocated by the Government to the independent living fund in each of the years 1987-88 and 1988-89 ; and from the vote of which Government Department such allocations were made ; (2) what information he has as to what sources of income the independent living fund has secured, other than Government funding, and as to how much such alternative source amounts to ;
(3) how much money will be allocated by the Government to the independent living fund in 1989-90.
Mr. Scott : The independent living fund was formally constitued on 8 June 1988. No funds were therefore made available for the year 1987-88. For 1988-89 £5 million was allocated from the miscellaneous health services and personal social services vote of the then Department of Health and Social Security. £5 million has been allocated for 1989-90. This sum will be reviewed as management information becomes available from the first year of operation. The independent living fund is financed entirely from Government sources.
Column 491officials at the West Derby Office of his Department in Princess drive, Liverpool ; and what steps he is taking to bring the dispute to a satisfactory and equitable conclusion.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : A total of 44 members of staff at the Department's West Derby local office are currently taking strike action over management's proposals to transfer a small number of excess staff to neighbouring offices for temporary periods. Discussions have taken place between regional management and the trade unions. The unions are recommending to their members that they return to work early this week.
A full public service will be restored at the office as soon as possible thereafter.
72. Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will put in the Library a copy of Sir Donald Acheson's recent formal report on the implications and monitoring of charges for teeth and spectacles.
Mr. Freeman : The Department's independent expert medical and scientific advisory committee on toxicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment recently considered the results of analyses by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on the aluminium content of infant formulae. The committee saw no need for action to reduce the aluminium intakes from infant formulae. However, the Department's expert advisory committees will continue to keep under regular review the results of research into the effects of aluminium intakes.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths there were in 1988 associated with the bacteria listeria ; and in how many cases there was a food poisoning report associated with the death.
Column 492death assigned as listeriosis (international classification of diseases 9th revision 027.0) is seven. In addition, the provisional number of neonatal deaths (at ages under 28 days, where no underlying cause of death is assigned) where listeriosis was mentioned as a condition on the death certificate is five for the same period and area. In none of these 12 deaths was there any mention of food poisoning on the death certificate.
From the reported cases of listeria known to the communicable disease surveillance centre of the Public Health Laboratory service who are also known by them to have died, none has been reported, formally or informally, as being confirmed microbiologically to have been associated with food.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish a list of those National Health Service hospitals which have engaged in contractual arrangements with private hospitals and clinics during 1987 and, so far as possible, 1988.
Mr. Mellor : Contractual arrangements with private hospitals and clinics are not made by individual NHS hospitals. Contracts are usually arranged by district health authorities and occasionally by regional health authorities.
New patients attending radiotherapy departments, NHS hospitals, England, 1983 and 1986 |In-patients |Out-patients ---------------------------------------------------- 1983 |35,337 |93,235 1986 |31,621 |96,540
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list, for each ambulance service covering the Yorkshire and northern regions, and for each year since 1979, the number of miles covered by (a) emergency services, (b) non-emergency services, (c) minicabs and (d) volunteer drivers.
Ambulance services: 1979 to 1986/87 Number of patient miles-Emergency, non-emergency and hospital car service cases Thousands |1979 |1980 |1981 |1982 |1983 |1984/85|1985/86|1986/87 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Northern RHA Cleveland Emergency cases |184.0 |219.3 |231.8 |237.4 |269.6 |249.5 |215.8 |227.3 Non-emergency cases |985.5 |1,174.9|1,138.0|804.1 |1,191.8|1,264.9|1,350.2|1,419.6 Hospital car service cases |- |- |- |- |- |- |- |- Cumbria Emergency cases |161.0 |195.5 |131.9 |107.2 |215.7 |245.9 |239.8 |242.2 Non-emergency cases |1,239.8|1,572.7|1,065.2|865.2 |1,739.0|1,684.3|1,738.6|1,555.0 Hospital car service cases |593.6 |718.0 |565.4 |380.4 |307.4 |412.5 |492.0 |713.0 Durham Emergency cases |398.3 |379.0 |379.6 |405.1 |416.2 |460.3 |385.4 |386.4 Non-emergency cases |1,202.5|1,497.0|1,695.3|1,773.5|1,889.3|1,924.6|2,099.6|2,036.1 Hospital car service cases |- |- |- |- |- |- |- |- Northumbria Metropolitan Emergency cases |672.3 |661.4 |668.9 |867.6 |936.3 |1,102.0|1,165.7|1,038.2 Non-emergency cases |3,335.9|3,785.2|3,746.5|3,499.3|3,552.1|3,311.2|3,113.5|3,380.3 Hospital car service cases |118.6 |101.0 |77.2 |83.8 |119.4 |215.2 |439.5 |341.5 Yorkshire RHA Humberside Emergency cases |277.5 |275.2 |283.0 |296.8 |300.5 |220.8 |317.8 |314.6 Non emergency cases |2,615.0|2,728.2|2,701.8|2,692.2|2,836.6|2,891.2|2,759.9|2,630.7 Hospital car service cases |300.6 |294.9 |249.0 |246.1 |204.8 |313.6 |309.6 |340.9 North Yorkshire Emergency cases |187.8 |176.5 |184.6 |188.1 |181.5 |190.5 |240.2 |333.6 Non-emergency cases |1,547.1|1,716.7|1,726.4|1,671.7|1,722.9|1,699.7|1,754.4|1,679.1 Hospital car service cases |23.8 |51.4 |48.7 |64.6 |134.0 |185.2 |262.9 |193.4 West Yorkshire Metropolitan Emergency cases |688.3 |712.0 |780.7 |777.0 |790.3 |838.7 |852.1 |936.3 Non-emergency cases |3,812.8|4,547.1|4,487.8|4,093.1|4,442.1|4,587.3|4,551.0|4,677.4 Hospital car service cases |564.7 |691.0 |570.2 |649.3 |783.9 |716.8 |1,096.0|1,465.4 Source: 1979-83 DH. 1984-85 to 1986-87 York health authority. Notes: 1. Figures for non-emergency cases do not include hospital car service cases. 2. The 1986-87 data for emergency cases in Humberside authority includes some urgent cases.
Column 494(2) how many fatalities have been recorded as a result of listerial meningitis since 1979 ; and if he will give a regional breakdown of such incidence.
Mr. Freeman : From the statistics of notifications of infectious diseases, it is not possible to identify separately the number of cases of listerial meningitis. However, the table shows, in addition to the number of deaths registered with underlying cause of death assigned as listerial meningitis, the number of notifications of other specified forms of acute meningitis, including listerial meningitis.
(R)=Number of notifications of acute meningitis, other specified organism<3> by standard region, and (B)=Number of deaths to usual residents of standard regions with listeria meningitis<2> assigned as underlying cause 1979 to 1988 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 <1>1988 |(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B)|(R)|(B) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- England and Wales<4> Male |280|2 |434|3 |282|3 |64 |2 |61 |7 |85 |2 |102|4 |121|4 |134|7 |157|1 Female |194|3 |301|1 |253|3 |67 |0 |45 |4 |56 |4 |84 |4 |88 |6 |100|9 |140|3 Wales Male |46 |0 |35 |0 |16 |0 |10 |0 |5 |0 |6 |0 |3 |0 |7 |0 |10 |0 |17 |0 Female |22 |1 |40 |0 |12 |0 |7 |0 |4 |0 |1 |0 |3 |0 |5 |1 |3 |0 |17 |0 Standard Region North Male |9 |0 |15 |0 |6 |1 |0 |0 |2 |1 |0 |0 |5 |1 |6 |1 |6 |0 |10 |0 Female |3 |0 |10 |0 |6 |0 |0 |0 |5 |0 |3 |0 |4 |0 |0 |0 |3 |0 |11 |0 Yorkshire and Humberside Male |34 |0 |14 |0 |25 |0 |12 |0 |13 |1 |29 |0 |26 |0 |33 |0 |23 |0 |34 |0 Female |19 |0 |23 |0 |28 |0 |12 |0 |8 |1 |11 |0 |25 |0 |27 |1 |27 |0 |24 |1 East Midlands Male |13 |0 |10 |0 |12 |0 |12 |0 |5 |0 |2 |0 |2 |1 |6 |0 |8 |1 |11 |0 Female |9 |1 |4 |0 |6 |0 |5 |0 |1 |0 |2 |1 |4 |1 |8 |1 |4 |0 |7 |0 East Anglia Male |13 |0 |19 |0 |2 |0 |2 |0 |0 |0 |6 |0 |4 |0 |2 |0 |1 |0 |3 |0 Female |8 |0 |11 |0 |5 |0 |2 |0 |1 |0 |1 |0 |2 |1 |2 |0 |3 |2 |3 |0 South East Male |85 |2 |162|3 |124|1 |17 |1 |18 |2 |15 |0 |16 |0 |21 |0 |38 |1 |28 |0 Female |83 |1 |95 |0 |113|1 |20 |0 |9 |1 |18 |2 |13 |1 |20 |2 |30 |3 |23 |1 South West Male |19 |0 |12 |0 |18 |0 |1 |1 |3 |1 |8 |0 |17 |0 |12 |2 |15 |1 |23 |0 Female |7 |0 |10 |0 |14 |0 |6 |0 |3 |1 |3 |0 |16 |1 |6 |0 |12 |0 |15 |1 West Midlands Male |10 |0 |16 |0 |19 |0 |3 |0 |4 |1 |7 |0 |8 |1 |11 |0 |17 |2 |11 |1 Female |9 |0 |17 |1 |14 |1 |6 |0 |8 |0 |7 |1 |6 |0 |5 |0 |10 |2 |15 |0 North West Male |51 |0 |151|0 |60 |0 |7 |0 |11 |1 |12 |2 |21 |1 |23 |0 |16 |2 |20 |0 Female |34 |0 |91 |0 |55 |1 |9 |0 |6 |1 |10 |0 |11 |0 |15 |1 |8 |2 |25 |0 <1> Provisional; mortality data are for January to September registrations only. <2> International Classification of Diseases ninth revision code 027.0 (part). <3> Acute meningitis, other specified organism includes all specified meningitis organisms other than those in the meningococcal, pneumococcal, influenzal (haemophilus influenzae), and viral categories. <4> Deaths to those usually resident outside England and Wales are included in the overall totals. Note: In 1986, neonatal deaths were no longer assigned with an underlying cause of death but mention of condition( s) present at death were given. Therefore in addition to the number of deaths shown in the table there was one neonatal death in 1986 in the South East region, and two neonatal deaths in 1987 (one in the South East region and one in the North West region) with mention of listeria meningitis on the death certificate.