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Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 15 May 1989] : It is estimated that approximately 3 million personal pensions (PP) have been taken out by the end of 1988-89. There is no information currently available on the effects of the changes under the 1986 Act to the numbers of contracted-out members of occupational schemes. On the assumption that contracted-out scheme membership is broadly unchanged it is estimated that there are about 9.5 million members of schemes. On this basis, it is estimated that a 1 per cent. reduction in the rebate rate in 1988-89 would have reduced the PP rebates in respect of that year by approximately £185 million and rebates for scheme members by approximately £850 million.
Any effect on expenditure would depend upon precisely how the reduction in the rebate was reflected on the guaranteed minimum pensions (GMPs) which schemes have to provide in respect of contracted-out members, and in the notional GMPs which are deducted from SERPS benefits from those who have contracted-out money purchase or PP rebates.
A change in the balance between the value of the rebate and the benefits forgone may affect the numbers opting to contract out, but no allowance has been made for this in the figures given.
Source : Government Actuary's Department.
Mr. Ted Garrett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his latest estimate of the savings following the end of transitional protection payments since the last uprating of social security benefits.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Following this year's uprating, some people continue to receive income support and housing benefit transitional protection. The extra cost of paying income support transitional protection on top of uprated benefit income of all claimants is estimated at £100 million for 1989-90.
It is estimated that the annual expenditure on housing benefit transitional payments has reduced by about £3.2 million as a result of awards ending in April 1989 because of the flat rate reduction of £2.00.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will now conduct an urgent investigation into the circumstances in which his Department granted hostel status to the premises in 9 a-- Oliver crescent, Harwick, run by the charity called the Reflections Trust 1987 Ltd. ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 683The income support general regulations define "hostel" for income support purposes. Whether or not an establishment is a hostel is a matter of fact for determination by the adjudication officer in considering individual claims for benefit.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what procedures are used to investigate the bona fide nature of Scottish charitable organisations which apply for Department of Social Security hostel status.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether his Department is currently considering any application for Department of Social Security hostel status for any premises situated in Scotland and managed by the Reflections Trust 1987 Ltd.
Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of (a) budgeting loans and (b) community care grants were awarded to each of the 15 client groups defined by his Department for (i) the midlands region and (ii) each of the 21 offices serving the West Midlands county area for the financial year 1988-89.
Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total value of applications for (a) budgetary loans, (b) cash loans and (c) community care grants from the social fund for the financial year between 4 April 1988 and 31 March 1989 in respect of his Department's local offices at Eston, Hartlepool, Redcar and Stockton.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Details, by month, of the number of budgeting loans, crisis loans and community care grants processed by each local office since 11 April 1988, together with the value of these applications, is available in the Library. However, social fund data for March 1989 are not yet available as a check of the figures has revealed some inaccuracies which have resulted from a new method of calculating the month-end balances.
The necessary adjustments are being made and the tables will be placed in the Library at the earliest possible opportunity. In addition, the value of applications processed during December 1988 remains unavailable because of an earlier computer malfunction.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : An additional separate distribution service, the Industrial Services Consortium in Bradford, has been contracted to supply statutory and care organisations with their leaflet requirements.
Mr. Clay : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the current average length of time taken to dispatch bulk orders of DSS welfare benefit leaflets to independent advice and law centres, local authorities and libraries.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : A newly contracted additional leaflets distributed service, which began operations from 1 May, is dispatching bulk orders of DSS leaflets on the basis of a five-day turnabout to advice centres, care agencies and local authorities. A 48-hour urgent demand service is also available. Libraries are being supplied by the leaflets unit at Canons Park and the average time is expected to be reduced with the introduction of the new arrangements from the present unacceptable average of six months to an average time of four weeks.
Mr. Terry Davis : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the estimated cost of the leaflet, "Our Business Is Service", being distributed to staff in local offices of his Department.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The total cost of printing and distributing the brochure "Our Business is Service" is £42,000. This includes the cost of distribution to staff within headquarters offices and the central offices at Newcastle and North Fylde.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish the number of prosecutions for social security fraud in Wales giving the sums of money and the number of people involved ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : A total of 459 persons were prosecuted in courts in Wales for social security fraud in the period from 10 February 1988 to 28 February 1989. Of these, 393 cases involved offences concerning benefit fraud and 66 related to fraudulent encashment of instruments of payment. Information relating to the total amount of overpaid benefit in these cases is not held centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, in 197 cases compensation orders totalling £97,174.01 were made in favour of the Department as a result of these proceedings.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the comprehensive set of indicators of the standards of living of households with incomes below the average developed by his Department and referred to in his speech, "The End of the Road for Poverty" ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the hon. Member to "Households Below Average Income : A Statistical Analysis 1981-85" May 1988 and to "Low Income Statistics : Report of a Technical Review" March 1988. Copies of both publications are available in the Library.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what instructions he gives to local Department of Social Security offices about information which is acceptable as evidence of date of birth ; and what further guidelines apply for individuals born outside the United Kingdom.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Instructions to local office staff on the verification of age for social security purposes are covered in the general benefits (GB) code, for contributory benefits, and in the "Income Support Manual".
For individuals born outside the United Kingdom, a certificate produced by the appropriate authority abroad is accepted unless there is any reason to doubt its validity.
Mr. Scott : Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for class XV, vote 6 (Housing Benefit Administration) will be increased by £312,000 from £128,592, 000 to £128,904,000. The revision provides for an additional payment to a local authority in Scotland towards the costs incurred in preparing for the introduction of the community charge rebate scheme.
Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for class XV, vote 7 (Administration and Miscellaneous Services) will be increased by £3,226,000 from £1,578, 122,000 to £1,581,348,000. The revision takes account of a reassessment of requirements resulting from the division of the Departments of Social Security and of Health, namely £220,000, a transfer of responsibility for certain expenditure items previously borne on class XIV, vote 3, £3,257,000, a transfer of £5,873,000 from DE (class VII, vote 2) to meet additional DSS administration expenses in making payments to employment training and youth training scheme participants, and a transfer to DE of £244,000 to reflect a change in responsibility for accommodation costs at Reading and Livingston. These additional requirements are partially offset by an increase in receipts of £5,880,000 to the vote. The balance of the increase will be offset by transfers from other votes and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.
As a result the running cost limit of the Department of Social Security is increased by £6,566,000 from £1,705,319,000 to £1,711,885,000.
Mr. Hanley To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will prepare in tabular form a chart showing the provision of state pensions and other benefits for the elderly in terms of pounds sterling for each of the 12 countries in the European Community. Mr. Peter Lloyd I refer my hon. Friend to the Department's publication "Tables of Social Benefit Systems in the European Communities (Position at 1 January 1988)," a copy of which is in the Library. These tables set out the levels of benefit in the national currencies together with the sterling equivalent converted according to the OECD's purchasing power parity figures as explained in the introduction to the tables.
Column 686his advice to women widowed before 11 April 1988, to contact local Department of Social Security offices if not contacted within six weeks ; and how many have received payment under the new arrangements.
Mr. Cash : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether those widows and widowed mothers who, during the period after 11 April 1988, obtained benefit, have to repay the Department of Social Security when they receive their widow's pension.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 22 May 1989] : Widows affected by my right hon. Friend's announcement on 28 February 1989 will not have to repay the benefit they have already received. Where the benefit obtained is income-related or overlaps with widow's pension, the arrears of widow's pension will be abated.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to paragraph 30 of the consultation paper "New Roads by New Means" (a) what he regards as an appropriate toll level on the second Severn crossing and (b) what form of control Her Majesty's Government will place on the level of toll to be charged on the second Severn crossing.
(2) when he expects work to commence on the A49 Tiverton bypass ; (3) when he expects work to commence on the A54/A556 to Kelsall bypass ;
(4) when he expects work to commence on the A556/A49--Morley Lane stretch ;
(5) when he expects work to commence on the A556 at Oakmere to Old Rectory Farm, Delamere ;
(6) when he expects work to commence on the Duddan and Clothen A51 bypass ;
(7) when he expects work to commence on the Tarpandey bypass to Tow Lane Ends ;
Mr. Peter Bottomley : These corridor improvements were added to the national trunk road programme on 18 May by "Roads for Prosperity". The first step is for the Department to select a design agency which will investigate possible schemes. A programme for construction will be drawn up when this preparatory work has been completed.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to ensure that the marine coastal pollution unit can exercise control over a harbour authority in the event of a major oil spill occurring within the harbour limits.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : In the event of an accident to or in a ship causing or threatening to cause oil pollution on a large scale in the United Kingdom or United Kingdom territorial waters--inluding harbour areas --the Secretary of State has extensive statutory powers of intervention which would enable the marine pollution control unit to direct and control clean-up operations.
Mr. Nicholas Baker : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals there are to introduce standards equivalent to the United States emission standards on small cars within the remainder of countries of the European Economic Community.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The European Commission has recently made proposals which include the introduction of standards equivalent to the United States emission standards on small cars in 1993, throughout the Community.
The Government support this move, provided it is implemented in a sensible way, without intermediate stages and respecting the unity of the market.
The adoption of three-way catalysts could in some cases increase emission of CO --the principal greenhouse gas. We shall therefore be pressing the Commission to bring forward proposals to tackle this.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the total number of British Transport police officers now employed on the London Underground ; how many are on secondment from the Metropolitan police ; if he has any proposals for increasing the number of officers engaged in this work ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : A total of 338 British Transport police officers are currently employed on the London Underground and 80 officers from the Metropolitan and City police forces are also serving on the Underground while BTP officers are recruited and trained to fill the increased establishment of 400 announced last December for the Underground division of the force.
That represents an increase of 50 officers and followed an increase from 280 to 350 in 1986.
The establishment of the force is a matter for the British Transport police committee.
Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish in the Official Report a list of the English districts outside London that do not have a system of concessionary bus fares for those of state pensionable age.
Column 688in autumn 1986 to discover the details of concessionary fares schemes operating at that time. The results showed that there was no travel concessionary scheme for elderly people in the following 28 districts. We have no more recent information. It is possible that schemes may now operate in some of these areas.
North Cornwall DC
East Devon DC
Mid Devon DC
South Hams DC
West Devon DC
South Holland DC
West Lindsey DC
South Shropshire DC
West Dorset DC
Taunton Deane BC
West Somerset DC
West Wiltshire DC