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Mr. Scott : The arrangements proposed in "Caring for People" (Cm. 849) by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health are designed to enable local authorities to provide help with the care needs of very severely disabled people. Financial help with the costs of domestic assistance and personal care is currently also available through the independent living fund.
Mr. Scott : We propose that people who care for recipients of the highest or intermediate level of care component of the new disability allowance will receive invalid care allowance, provided they satisfy the conditions of entitlement.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many families in (a) west Leeds, (b) Leeds, (c) west Yorkshire and (d) England are in receipt of family credit ; what estimated proportion these families represent of those entitled to this benefit ; and if he will make a statement.
Number who, at the time their award was made, were living in: |number -------------------------------------- a. West Leeds |<1>2,800 b. Leeds |<2>4,500 c. West Yorkshire |<3>15,600 d. England |257,000 <1> Total in the area covered by the Leeds West, Leeds North West and Leeds North local Social Security offices. <2> Total in the area covered by all the local Social Security offices in Leeds. <3> Total in the area covered by all the Social Security offices in West Yorkshire.
Information about the total number of families eligible for family credit can be obtained only for Great Britain, and only retrospectively, from family expenditure survey data.
Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total number of persons dependent on both social security and housing rebates in 1979-80 and 1989-90 and the forecast for 1990-91.
Mr. Scott : Information is not available in the precise form requested, since claimants may receive more than one benefit at any one time, and may also receive benefit for one or more dependants. Broad-based survey data suggest, however, that in 1979, and also in 1987, the latest year for which such estimates are available, the social security system contributed to the incomes or family incomes of around 38 million people. For 1989-90 and 1990-91 figures for the estimated average number of people receiving individual benefits, including housing benefit, are shown in the table :
Estimated numbers receiving social security benefits at any one time<1><2> thousands |1979-80 |1989-90 |1990-91<6> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Retirement pension |8,680 |9,825 |9,940 Widows' benefits |490 |370 |360 Unemployment benefit |550 |415 |455 Sickness benefit |490 |105 |105 Invalidity benefit |620 |1,185 |1,265 Industrial disablement benefit |200 |340 |355 Industrial death benefit |30 |30 |25 Maternity allowance |115 |15 |15 Non-contributory retirement pension |55 |35 |35 War pension |370 |255 |250 Attendance allowance |285 |796 |880 Invalid care allowance |5 |110 |130 Severe disablement allowance |- |265 |270 Non-contributory invalidity pension |165 |- |- Mobility allowance |140 |615 |655 Income support |- |4,075 |4,100 Supplementary benefit<3> |2,920 |- |- Child benefit<4> |13,330 |12,140 |12,155 Family credit |- |315 |325 Family income supplement |80 |- |- Housing benefit<5> rent rebate |1,205 |3,115 |3,120 rent allowance |220 |1,040 |1,050 rate rebate |3,065 |4,480 |- Community charge benefit/rebate |- |930 |7,895 <1>Source: Public Expenditure White Papers 1984 and 1990. <2>Beneficiaries may be receiving more than one benefit at any one time. <3>Includes housing benefit supplement recipients who are also included in the figures for housing benefit recipients. <4>Numbers of children in families receiving child benefit, including those also receiving one parent benefit. <5>There is a significant overlap: most households getting help with rent also receive a rate rebate. <6>Forecast.
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations the Minister for Social Security and the disabled has had about the increasing dependence on loan sharks of people who live on state benefits ; what reply he is sending ; if there is any action he will be taking ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he proposes to change the capital rule for community charge rebate to take account of the fact that the charge is being levied on individuals whereas the capital rule is applied to couples jointly.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : We have no plans to change the rule for Community charge benefit for couples. It is a fundamental principle of the income-related benefit schemes that the partners in a married or unmarried couple are treated as sharing their income and capital resources. The fact that the community charge is being levied on individuals does not affect this principle.
Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many copies of leaflet SB 1 and IS 100 were printed for publication in October 1989 ; how many correction leaflets IS 100 indicating different rates for the enhanced pensioner premium were printed ; what were the reasons for the incorrect rates being published ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : In October 1989 3,322,000 copies of leaflet SB1 were printed, 4,525,668 copies of leaflet IS 100 were printed and 2,460,000 copies of the correction leaflet for IS 100 were printed because of a proof-reading error in the original leaflet.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The enhanced pensioner premium is part of the premium structure in income support, housing benefit and community charge benefit. From April 1990, this premium will be fixed at £14.40 a week for a single person and £21.60 for couples. It is awarded automatically when the claimant, or where appropriate, his partner, reaches the age of 75 years, and replaces the pensioner premium which is paid at a lower rate. Where a higher rate premium is in payment, that premium will continue. When it was introduced last October, this improvement provided extra benefit, for those who qualified for it, of up to £2.50 a week for single people and £3.50 a week for couples in time for the winter months. At the same time we increased the higher
Column 86pensioner premium by the same amounts. This premium applied, automatically, to all income-related benefit recipients at the age of 80 years, and to disabled people aged 60 to 79 years. Overall, we estimate that 2.6 million people, including spouses, benefited from these substantial improvements.
Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many cold weather payments have been made so far during the 1989-90 winter ; which Department of Social Security offices made such payments ; and which weather stations covered these Departments of Social Security offices.
Mr. Scott : The latest information available relates to the two months ending 31 December 1989, by which time social fund cold weather payments totalling £73,500 had been made. The national climatological message (NCM) stations that have had an average temperature of 0 deg C for a seven-day period during this winter and the Department's local offices linked to them are shown in the table :
NCM Station and Local Office
Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many new claims for reduced earnings allowance have been allowed each year since the benefit was established ; how many people currently receive reduced earnings allowance ; how many recipients are above pensionable age ; how many are employed earners ; and how many are on income support.
Mr. Scott : The available information is as follows. The net estimated number of reduced earnings allowance awards made from 1 October 1986 (when the benefit was introduced) to 1 April 1987 was about 5,000. The corresponding figures for the years 1987-88 and 1988-89 were 11,000 and 14,400. Of the 150,000 people estimated to receive the allowance (which includes those who previously received special hardship allowance),approaching 60,000 are over pensionable age. Of those under pensionable age, approximately one in four is estimated to be in work. No information is available on the numbers of REA recipients who also receive income support.
Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether claimants can benefit from employment on trial if during the 26 weeks prior to a trial period they were participating in an employment training scheme or a YTS scheme, with and without employee status.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will answer the letter from the hon. Member for Birkenhead dated 12 August 1989 and followed up on 1 December 1989 about his constituent Robert Holmes, of 4 Clarence road, Birkenhead.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the quality of service performance indicators that have been introduced into the Resettlement Agency since its establishment as an agency.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The Resettlement Agency has been set a target to devise a scheme to assist resettlement unit managers to compare the effectiveness of units on a common basis. It also intends to undertake a study to examine clients' perceptions in an effort to help establish common standards for the units.
Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will indicate for each of the Department's local offices in the Greater Manchester area his estimate of the percentage of callers who have a very low understanding of the English language ; and whether these offices maintain lists of staff who are willing and able to act as interpreters for ethnic minority customers.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : All the 23 DSS local offices in the Greater Manchester area estimate that up to 10 per cent. of their callers have a very low understanding of the English language. Of these, 12 offices--Bury, Cheetham, Chorlton, Failsworth, Farnworth, Hyde, Openshaw, Rochdale, Rusholme, Sale, Stockport North and Wigan--hold lists of staff willing and able to interpret for ethnic minority customers. Eleven offices--Ashton, Bolton, Leigh, Longsight, Manchester (Central), Middleton, Oldham, Salford North, Salford South, Stockport South and Wythenshawe--maintain effective arrangements for communicating with customers who have a very low understanding of the English language by other methods, such as the use of volunteer interpreters from the local community, including relatives and friends.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 8 February 1990] : It is estimated that immediately before the annual benefits uprating this April, the number of claimants in Great Britain receiving income support transitional protection will have reduced to under 500,000. A breakdown of this figure by individual regions or parts of regions is not available.
At the end of January, 99,897 applicants in Great Britain were receiving housing benefit transitional protection. This figure included 9,457 applicants in west Yorkshire.
Information for Northern Ireland is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Column 89Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 8 February 1990] : Just over £58 million has been paid out to 202,797 recipients of housing benefit transitional payments since July 1988, averaging £4.19 a week.
Income support statutory transitional protection paid to former supplementary benefit recipients is estimated to amount to some £340 million from April 1988 to the end of this financial year. Further information on these payments is not available in the form requested. However, during the period protection has been paid to just over 1.5 million claimants. The average weekly amount per claimant immediately after the April 1989 uprating is estimated at £3.30.
Income support normal transitional protection reduces as the claimant's total benefit income under the new scheme catches up with that under the former supplementary benefit scheme either at annual upratings or through changes in circumstances. Special transitional protection does not normally erode at all ; it is uprated annually. Special arrangements for protecting ordinary boarders through their income support will have ceased by March 1990 in the majority of cases. However, longer-term arrangements exist for people living in supported lodgings while they remain in the support environment and for hostel dwellers who were eligible for special transitional payments from October 1989 until they leave the hostel. In both cases payments cease if income support entitlement ceases or if the claimant's normal benefit entitlement reaches the protected level. We have made it clear from the beginning that housing benefit transitional payments will be reduced as increases in other benefits make them less necessary. We have decided on a flat rate reduction of £2.00 in these payments from April. This is the same level of reduction as the one applied in 1989 and, because of this occasion social security benefits are being increased by larger amounts, will ensure that the vast majority of recipients gain overall in cash terms from the uprating.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what investigation his Department is making of Dutch, Danish and German research programmes into testing for food safety to ensure that the United Kingdom based food processing and production industry does not suffer adversely from foreign competition following the closure of the Bristol laboratory of the Institute of Food Research.
Mr. Maclean : The United Kingdom has initiated a major European concerted activity relating to food safety, on, "Predictive Growth and Survival of Micro-organisms in Foods", which is to be supported under the European Commission's FLAIR programme and will be operational in 1990. This activity will provide an opportunity to draw
Column 90on all relevant European data of benefit to the United Kingdom food processing and production industry and thus protect its competitive position.
Dr. Godman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow can expect to receive a reply to his letter of 9 January, concerning British fishing in Greenland waters.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will place in the Library copies of instructions given by him to local authorities and the state veterinary service concerning the inspection of bovines for bovine spongiform encephalopathy and the payment of compensation in respect of confirmed and unconfirmed cases.