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HOUSE OF COMMONS

Freedom Food

Mr. Morley: To ask the Chairman of the Catering Committee if the Catering Committee will require the Refreshment Department to ensure that as far as possible


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all meat and egg products served in the canteens and restaurant of the House have the RSPCA Freedom Food mark.

Mr. Shepherd: This is a matter for the director of catering services. I shall ask her to write to the hon. Member.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Child Support Agency

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is the value of the maintenance payments which have been received and held by the Child Support Agency; and for how many days on average such payments have been held;

(2) what plans he has to improve the performance of the Child Support Agency in passing on maintenance payments it receives to parents with care;

(3) what is the target time by which the Child Support Agency is expected to pass on maintenance payments received from parents without care responsibility to those with care;

(4) in how many cases maintenance payments received by the Child Support Agency have not been passed on to the parent with care after seven days; and what percentage of cases this represents.

Mr. Burt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Miss Ann Chant, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Miss Ann Chart to Mr. Clive Betts, dated 19 October 1994:

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the length of time taken to pass maintenance payments received by the Child Support Agency to parents with care.

To the end of July 1994, the Agency had collected about £30 million in maintenance payments arising from Child Support Agency assessments.

Straightforward cases that generally do not involve benefit payments are likely to be processed in a matter of days. However, in cases where income support is involved benefit details have to be checked with the benefits Agency and it has taken, on average, around ten weeks to process these payments. We recognise that this is unacceptable and have already introduced improved procedures to speed up the process.

At the end of August 1994, we estimate that there were some 9, 000 cases where child maintenance had been paid to the Agency, but some or all of the maintenance had not been forwarded to either the parent with care, or the Secretary of State. To breakdown that figure to show the number over seven days old and the number involving parents with care only, would incur disproportionate cost. This total figure represented less than 4 per cent. of the total number of live cases.

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social


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Security (1) how many parents with care have waited (a) one month, (b) two months, (c) three months, (d) six months and (e) one year since the Child Support Act 1991 came into force to receive their first maintenance payment through the Child Support Agency from the date of first application; and what percentage of applications each group represents;

(2) how many parents with care have currently been waiting (a) one month, (b) two months, (c) three months, (d) six months and (e) one year to receive the first maintenance payment through the Child Support Agency from the date of first application; and what percentage of applications each group represents.

Mr. Burt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Miss Ann Chant, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Clive Betts, dated 19 October 1994:

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security on outstanding claims for child maintenance.

Information in the format you have requested is not available. However information is available as follows:


Age of Cases Outstanding as at 31 August 1994                                                           

                                                    |Per cent.                                          

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Over 13 weeks old         |403,187                  |79 per cent.                                       

Over 26 weeks old         |346,135                  |68 per cent.                                       

Over 52 weeks old         |Figures not yet available|Figures not yet available                          


Time taken to clear cases between 1 April and 31 August  

1994                                                     

                                     |per cent.          

---------------------------------------------------------

40 days or less                      |37                 

More than 40 days and up to 100 days |15                 

More than 100 days                   |48                 

Vaccine Damage

Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in respect of payments under the vaccine damage payment scheme, in each year since 1987 (a) how many claims were withdrawn, (b) how many claimants were under two years of age, (c) how many claimants were disabled to less than 80 per cent. due to vaccination, (d) in how many cases claimants' disablement was not due to vaccination and (e) in how many other cases section 2 conditions were not fulfilled; and what were the reasons why claims were withdrawn.

Mr. Hague: (a) None prior to the vaccine damage tribunal stage. Claims withdrawn at the tribunal stage are in the table.


Year    |1987   |1988   |1989   |1990   |1991   |1992   |1993   |<2>1994        

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No.     |7      |3      |4      |-      |1      |-      |-      |2              

(b) to (d) The information is in the table.


        |1987   |1988   |1989   |1990   |1991   |1992   |1993   |<2>1994        

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(b)     |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-              

(c)<1>  |-      |-      |-      |1      |-      |-      |-      |1              

(d)<1>  |32     |10     |20     |23     |21     |17     |31     |21             

(e) The information is in the table.


Disallowances under Section 2(1), VDP Act 1979                                         

               |1987   |1988   |1989   |1990   |1991   |1992   |1993   |<2>1994        

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

S.2(1)(a)(i)   |-      |-      |-      |-      |1      |-      |-      |-              

S.2(1)(a)(ii)  |-      |1      |-      |-      |2      |-      |-      |-              

S.2(1)(a)(iii) |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-              

S.2(1)(b)      |4      |2      |4      |2      |-      |-      |5      |-              

S.2(1)(c)      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-              

With reference to claims withdrawn, I would refer the honourable Member to my answer   

at (a).                                                                                

<1>The figures exclude those where causation has not been fully investigated owing to  

the claimant's disability falling substantially short of80 per cent. <2>Correct at 13  

October 1994.                                                                          


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Housing Benefit

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many recipients there were of rent allowance housing benefit in (a) housing association properties and (b) other private rented properties at 31


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March 1992, 31 March 1993 and 31 March 1994; what was the average rent of each of these properties; and what was the average rent allowance being paid for each of these.

Mr. Roger Evans: The available information is set out in the table:


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                      Recipients                                Average weekly                            Average weekly                                                

                      (thousands)                               eligible rent                             rent allowance                                                

                     |Housing associations|Other private       |Housing associations|Other private       |Housing associations|Other private                            

                     |tenants             |tenants             |tenants             |tenants             |tenants             |tenants                                  

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 1992             |340                 |952                 |£35.54              |£43.91              |£32.24              |£40.68                                   

May 1993             |412                 |1,068               |£39.88              |£49.86              |£35.75              |£46.80                                   

May 1994             |508                 |1,126               |n/a                 |n/a                 |n/a                 |n/a                                      

Figures are for 31 May as no counts are taken on 31 March.                                                                                                              

Information relates to eligible rent for Housing Benefit as actual rents paid are not available.                                                                        

Average eligible rents and average rent allowances figures apply to end of May 1992 and 1993.                                                                           

May 1994 figures are not yet available.                                                                                                                                 

Source:                                                                                                                                                                 

Housing Benefit Management Information System.                                                                                                                          


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Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total housing benefit paid in respect of (a) housing association properties and (b) other private rented properties in the financial years 1992 93 and 1993 94; and what are the predicted figures for each of these for 1994 95.

Mr. Roger Evans: The available information is:


Rent Allowance                                                       

Expenditure in Great       |£million                                 

Britain                                                              

---------------------------------------------------------------------

1992-93                    |3,257                                    

1993-94 estimated out-turn |3,817                                    

1994-95 plans              |4,320                                    

Source:                                                              

DSS Department Report 1994.tnh2 Seperate information on the amount   

of Housing Benefit paid to housing association tenants is not        

available.                                                           

War Pensions

Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost to (a) all English local authorities and (b) London boroughs of disregarding war widows and war disablement pensions for the purpose of housing benefit and community charge or council tax benefit in each year since 1988.

Mr. Roger Evans: The available information relating to the cost to local authorities of their own disregard scheme, compiled from information provided by local


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authorities for the financial years from 1988 89 to 1992 93, has been placed in the Library.

Council Tax

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many households receive council tax rebates in each region of Scotland.

Mr. Roger Evans: The available information is set out in the table:


Scottish Regions and  |Council Tax Benefit                      

Islands               |caseloads May 1994                       

----------------------------------------------------------------

Borders               |8,800                                    

Central               |35,800                                   

Dumfries and Galloway |13,600                                   

Fife                  |45,100                                   

Grampian              |33,900                                   

Highland<1>           |17,700                                   

Lothian               |60,800                                   

Strathclyde<2>        |322,200                                  

Tayside               |40,400                                   

Regions Total         |578,300                                  

Islands Councils      |5,900                                    

Scotland Total        |584,200                                  

<1> estimated                                                   

<2> provisional (October 1994 figure)                           

The information relates to bnenefit units rather than           

households, a benefit unit may be a couple or a single person.  

Source:                                                         

Council Tax benefit Management Information System               

Strathclyde-provided direct by region.                          


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Bronchitis and Emphysema

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the number of applicants awarded benefit for PD D12 chronic bronchitis and emphysema in each 10 per cent. band between 14 per cent. and 100 per cent. for the period 13 September 1993 to 13 September 1994.

Mr. Hague: The full information requested is not available. The available information is in the table.


Chronic bronchitis and/or         

emphysema as at 11 September      

1994.                             

Awards of Benefit for PD D12.     

                                  

----------------------------------

14-24 per cent.       |442        

25-34 per cent.       |634        

35 per cent. and over |3,393      

NB                                

A number of applications received 

up to 11 September 1994 are still 

being processed.                  

Based on 100 per cent. count but  

subject to amendment.             

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the total number of applications for benefit for PD D12 chronic bronchitis and emphysema broken down by region between 13 September 1993 and 13 September 1994.

Mr. Hague: Information is not available by region. The available information is shown in the table and relates to applications received by 11 September 1994.


Applications for benefit in respect of chronic  

bronchitis and                                  

emphysema (PD D12) by area directorate          

Area                              |Claims       

------------------------------------------------

South                                           

Anglia                            |25           

Chilterns                         |22           

South East                        |470          

West Country                      |144          

                                                

Wales and Central England                       

East Midlands                     |5,663        

Greater Manchester                |326          

Lancashire and Cumbria            |2,252        

Merseyside                        |495          

Midlands South West               |648          

Wales                             |9,339        

West Mercia                       |3,658        

                                                

Scotland and North                              

East Scotland                     |2,391        

Glasgow                           |240          

North and West Yorkshire          |2,651        

North, Central and West Scotland  |1,893        

South Yorkshire and Humberside    |6,491        

Tyne Tees                         |7,119        

                                  |-----        

Total                             |43,827       

Based on 100 per cent. count but subject to     

amendment.                                      

Prisoners (Housing Benefit)

Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many prisoners are currently in receipt of housing benefit; and what is the cost of this as a proportion of (a) the overall housing benefit budget and (b) the overall social security budget;


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(2) if he will give figures, in real cash terms, of the predicted savings his Department will make as a result of reducing prisoners' entitlement to housing benefit from 52 weeks to 13 weeks; (3) how many prisoners over the last five-year period for which figures are available have had their entitlement to housing benefit renewed for a further 52 weeks following a home visit.

Mr. Roger Evans: No information is collected on the amount of housing benefit paid to prisoners, the number of prisoners in receipt of housing benefit, or the impact of home visits on prisoners' benefit. However, we estimate that there could be up to 10,000 single prisoners in receipt of housing benefit in any one year at a cost of up to £10 million.

This represents up to 0.1 per cent. of the housing benefit budget, and up to 0.01 per cent. of the total social security budget. The majority of this cost is expected to be recouped through reducing prisoners' benefit entitlement to 13 weeks.Source: Prison Statistics England and Wales 1991 CM. 2157

Chief Adjudication Officer

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will publish the 10th annual report of the Chief Adjudication Officer; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Roger Evans: The report is being published today. The report's findings point to improvements in the quality of adjudication in the Benefits Agency, notably in the income support area. Standards within the Employment Service also showed some improvement.

The Benefits Agency and Employment Service are committed to better standards of adjudication as illustrated by the increased emphasis on quality in agency business plans for 1994 95. Both the CAO and I look forward to progress in coming years.

The report contains six recommendations to build on the progress which the agencies have made in improving adjudication standards. These recommendations are being considered and there will be a formal response in due course.

TRANSPORT

Shipping

Mr. Gareth Wardell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many ships in 1993 flying foreign flags (a) visited United Kingdom ports, (b) were inspected and (c) were detained.

Mr. Norris: In 1993, 6,540 individual ships flying foreign flags visited United Kingdom ports; 2,271 were inspected and 174 were detained.

Mr. Gareth Wardell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what surveys of garbage reception facilities for ships using United Kingdom ports his Department is currently funding.

Mr. Norris: A comprehensive survey of reception facilities at United Kingdom ports has been carried out by the Marine Safety Agency. The data from that survey are being analysed. In addition an independent research


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project has been commissioned to assess the adequacy of these facilities.

Private Hire Vehicles

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he proposes to publish his proposals arising from his Department's review of taxis and private hire vehicle services; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: The hon. Member will be aware that in April the Transport Select Committee published volume I of its report on taxis and private hire vehicles--House of Commons Paper 239-I. We shall be replying to the Committee shortly.

Coaches

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received regarding the use of the outside lane of motorways by coaches; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Wardell), on 17 October, Official Report, column 103.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evidence he has as to the accident record involving coaches travelling in the outside lane of motorways; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: In 1993 coaches were involved in 87 accidents on motorways resulting in 326 casualties. The lane occupied at the time is not known.

Plutonium Nitrate

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has received from the Atomic Energy Authority on the outcome of its review of the authority's 1984 report on the radiological consequences of the release into the sea of the contents of a plutonium nitrate package.

Mr. Norris: The Department has received an executive summary of the review which confirms the findings of the 1984 report.

Pelican Crossings

Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to review departmental advice note TA 52/87, "Design Considerations for Pelican and Zebra Crossings" to relax the minimum PV value necessary for the installation of a pelican crossing.

Mr. Norris: The numerical PV-squared criterion is purely advisory and highway authorities are free to decide whether to install pedestrian crossings on the roads for which they are responsible. The advice note emphasises the importance of taking local features into account in reaching a decision. The note is under review and we expect to replace it shortly with advice based on an examination of local factors and not relying on the numerical criterion.

British Rail Rule Book

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultations he has had with the chief inspecting officer of railways concerning the introduction of multiple separate publications to replace the single


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volume British Rail rule book; and if he will make a statement concerning changes in the distribution of the new publications compared to that for the single volume.

Mr. Watts: There have been no such consultations. However, the chief inspecting officer of railways is aware that Railtrack intends to re- publish the former British Rail rule book in a new format, divided into a number of separate publications. He has no objection to this proposal and shares Railtrack's opinion that it is potentially beneficial to safety.

Maritime False Alarms

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many false alarms have been registered in the past 12 months on the global maritime distress and safety systems; and what was the estimated cost of the false alarms.

Mr. Norris: During the year 1 October 1993 to 30 September 1994 HM Coastguard recorded a total of 956 false alerts within the global maritime distress and safety systems attributed to:

International Maritime Satellite (INMARSAT)

343

Satellite Aided Position Indicating Systems (COSPAS/SARSAT) 511

Medium Frequency Radio Digital Selective Calling (MFDSC) 102

The estimated cost to the Coastguard Agency based on an average of two man hours to deal with each false alert is £17,016 for the year 1 October 1993, to 30 September 1993.

Dumping at Sea

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many successful prosecutions have been mounted arising from the dumping of rubbish at sea in each of the last three years; and how many incidents were recorded in the same period.

Mr. Norris: In the past three years, there have been seven incidents of garbage dumping at sea reported to my Department's Marine Pollution Control Unit. Of these, two were referred for prosecution action. One case was found not guilty and the other is on-going. Further cases may have been brought by other authorities but records are not held centrally.

Airports

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how the development of Redhill aerodrome fits into the long-term development of airports in the south-east in the context of the RUCATSE--runway capacity in the south-east group--report.

Mr. Norris [holding answer 21 July 1994]: RUCATSE did not consider development of Redhill aerodrome as one of its options. The RUCATSE report noted that constraints could be imposed on Redhill, were a second runway to be developed at Gatwick.


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EMPLOYMENT

Labour Statistics

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the change in the numbers unemployed since 1990; and to which of the factors and reforms listed in section 5.1 and annex 2, "Employment: The Challenge for the Nation", Cmnd. 9474, he ascribes the change.

Mr. Oppenheim: There are two main measures of employment used in Great Britain: the "Workforce in Employment" which is based on a survey of employers, and the labour force survey, which is a survey of households. The "Workforce in Employment" estimates of the changes in full-time employment in Great Britain since 1984 are shown in the table:


                            |Males     |Females              

-------------------------------------------------------------

June 1984 to June 1990      |+500,000  |+834,000             

June 1990 to June 1994      |-1,683,000|-423,000             

June 1984 to June 1994      |-1,182,000|+412,000             

                                                             

The corresponding estimates based on the LFS are:            

Spring 1984 to Spring 1990  |+811,000  |+1,019,00            

Spring 1990 to Summer 1994  |-1,253,000|-359,000             

Spring 1984 to Summer 1994  |-442,000  |+660,000             

Note:                                                        

seasonally adjusted figures                                  

There is currently some discrepancy between the two measures, and work is being done to ascertain the reasons for the differences. The figures show how full-time employment moved during different stages in the economic cycle. However, a comparison of total employment at similar stages in the economic cycle is a broader indicator of Britain's recent employment record. The "Work force in employment" grew by around 1.5 million between peaks in the last cycle--1979 and 1990. This is the fastest rate of growth at least since the 1960s. The growth in the "Work force in employment" between the troughs in the last cycle--1983 to 1993--was of a similar order of magnitude. It is likely that the Government's policies, such as those in the White Paper cited above, contributed to this performance.

Mr. Parry: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current level of unemployment in (a) the Liverpool, Riverside constituency and (b) Merseyside at the latest available date; and if he will make a statement on what measures are being taken to reduce these figures.

Mr. Oppenheim: The table gives the unadjusted claimant unemployed in the Liverpool, Riverside constituency and the county of Merseyside for September 1986, 1993 and 1994.


=

                     |Month    |Year     |Total              

-------------------------------------------------------------

Merseyside                                                   

                     |September|1986     |140,472            

                     |September|1993     |96,516             

                     |September|1994     |87,814             

Liverpool, Riverside                                         

                     |September|1986     |11,652             

                     |September|1993     |7,458              

                     |September|1994     |6,973              

The Government are committed to reducing unemployment by supporting the development of a more productive and competitive economy which will create better-paid and more secure jobs in the labour market.

Unemployed People

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the implications of the delay in negotiations with the European Union on existing training and support available to unemployed people.

Miss Widdecombe: I regret that the Commission's failure to begin negotiations on the United Kingdom's objective 3 plan until the end of April led to serious problems for some training providers. I am pleased to say that thereafter negotiations on the United Kingdom's single programming document for objective 3, which accounts for most of the support for training unemployed people available from the Community, were undertaken intensively, and the document was formally agreed by the Commission at the beginning of August. Since then, the Department has been able to move quickly. Applications for European social fund grant in 1994 have now for the most part been approved, and the advances so far claimed have been paid. First priority in this process has been given to dealing with vulnerable projects from the voluntary sector.

Industrial Tribunals

Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment in how many cases at industrial tribunals each Government Department has been represented in each of the past five years.

Mr. Oppenheim: I regret that the information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Public Bodies

Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the non-departmental public bodies to which his Department makes appointments in the Greater London area, together with the total annual budget for each body and the number of appointments made or renewed in each of the last five years.

Miss Widdecombe: In the Greater London area, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is responsible for the appointment of lay members to the London (north) regional office of industrial tribunals and the London (south) regional office of industrial tribunals; and of chairmen and members to the London north and London south committees for the employment of people with disabilities.

It is not possible to breakdown the budget for these

non-departmental public bodies. National figures for the industrial tribunals and CEPDs are available for the 1992 93 financial year in "Public Bodies 1993", a copy of which is available in the Library. Appointments and re-appointments to the industrial tribunals are made every three years, the last two such exercises having been carried out in 1989 and 1992. In 1989, a total of 46 new appointments and 277 re-appointments were made to industrial tribunals within the jurisdiction of the London (north) and London (south)


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regional offices. In 1992, there were 109 new appointments and 219 re-appointments.

The two London CEPDs each have an independent chairman and 13 members. The committees are reconstituted every three years when all appointments are considered afresh. The last reconstitution exercise was completed in March 1994. Running records of appointments including replacement members are not kept centrally and regional records do not go back as far as five years.

Soccer Players

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many work permit applications for professional soccer players have been made in each of the last 10 years; and how many granted in each year, specifying the nationality of the applicant in each case.

Mr. Oppenheim: The number of work permit applications, including those for extensions to existing permits, received by the Department for professional soccer players in each of the years for which this information is available is set out in the table. Information about the number of permits granted to professional soccer players and their nationality is not available.


'

Year         |Number Of                

             |Applications             

---------------------------------------

1989         |9                        

1990         |23                       

1991         |32                       

1992         |30                       

1993         |35                       

1994         |<1>22                    

<1> To date.                           

National Insurance Credits

Mr. Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of persons who are currently in receipt of class 1 national insurance credits only, during unemployment, in each unemployment benefit office in Greater Manchester.

Miss Widdecombe: Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service Agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from M.E.G. Fogden to Mr. Terry Lewis, dated 20 October 1994:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the total number of persons, who are currently in receipt of Class 1 National Insurance credits only, during unemployment, in each unemployment benefit office in Greater Manchester. The information you have requested is not fully available. However the attached table gives the number of persons within each office in Greater Manchester, who were registered as unemployed and receiving neither unemployment benefit nor Income Support on 12 May. The vast majority, but not all, of these persons will have been receiving Class 1 National Insurance credits only. More recent data can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.


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