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Mr. Sackville: The information required is not available in the form requested. Central funding received by regions for palliative care in each of the last five financial years is shown in the table. This does not include funding from other national health service resources.
Region |1990-91 |1991-92 |1992-93 |1993-94 |1994-95 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Yorkshire |602 |1,276 |2,892 |3,446 |3,788 Northern |530 |1,124 |2,329 |2,712 |3,012 Trent |756 |1,603 |3,443 |4,019 |4,304 Mersey |420 |890 |1,940 |2,356 |2,489 Oxford |365 |774 |1,737 |1,966 |2,128 East Anglia |317 |672 |1,589 |1,922 |2,129 Wessex |462 |979 |2,513 |2,861 |3,025 North East Thames |697 |1,478 |2,807 |3,410 |3,864 North West Thames |596 |1,263 |2,469 |2,848 |3,240 South East Thames |658 |1,395 |3,233 |3,664 |4,000 South West Thames |520 |1,102 |2,473 |2,913 |3,145 North Western |697 |1,478 |3,105 |3,846 |4,099 South Western |532 |1,128 |2,835 |3,408 |3,648 West Midlands |848 |1,798 |3,828 |4,560 |4,858 |-------- |-------- |-------- |-------- |-------- Total |8 million |16.96 million|37.2 million |43.9 million |47.7 million
Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will instruct all hospital trusts that when transporting the bodies of stillborn babies or bodies of other people who have died only national health service vehicles or undertakers should be used.
Mr. Sackville: It is for individual trusts to establish appropriately sensitive local policies for any arrangements which they may need to make for the transport of a body. If, to take account of local circumstances, trusts wish to draw on differing sources of transport, they should be conscious of the need to specify and ensure compliance with procedures which accord proper sensitivity and dignity.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many medical complaints were heard in England in each of the past five years; and in what percentage of cases complaints of patients were upheld.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the reduction in the number of persons by grade and gender employed by her Department and associated offices and agencies, nationally and regionally over the next three years, as a result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget statement of 29 November, indicating which branch, agency and region will be affected and stating her estimate of the number of job losses in each year which will be by (a) natural wastage, (b) voluntary redundancy and (c) compulsory redundancy; and what estimate she has made of the yearly total of savings in wages and associated costs as a result of these reductions in each Department, branch and agency.
Mr. Sackville: We have announced that by 31 March 1997 the number of staff in the Department, excluding the agencies, will reduce by 21 per cent.--some 715 posts--compared with 1 April 1994. No decision has yet been made on the distribution of this reduction by grade or location or the spread over time.
The Department has launched a voluntary retirement and severance scheme which closes on 31 January 1995 with the aim of avoiding compulsory redundancy.
As announced in the Budget statement, administration spending for the Department as a whole will decline by 18.8 per cent. in real terms by 1997 98. This figure includes savings from wages and associated costs.
All the above figures exclude the staff and costs of regional health authorities which, subject to legislation, will become regional offices of the national health service executive on 1 April 1996.
Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to ensure that all purchasing health authorities contract with providers for a comprehensive infertility investigation and treatment service.
Column 92resources to be made available for these services must be left to individual health authorities as they are in the best position to determine priorities in the light of local needs and circumstances. Advice is available to health authorities and clinicians in two publications drawn to the attention of the NHS in 1992; these are the "Effective Health Care Bulletin" on management of subfertility, published for the NHS management executive by a consortium of Leeds and York universities and the research unit of the Royal College of Physicians, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists publication "Infertility--Guidelines For Practice".
Copies of the publications are available in the Library.
Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the letter to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West from the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville), of 20 September 1994, if she has now received the report from the medical care research unit at the university of Sheffield evaluating the trauma unit research project at the North Staffordshire hospitals NHS trust in 1991; and if she will place a copy in the Library.
Mr. Sackville: The Department has received a draft of the preliminary findings of the evaluation. There remain significant analyses to be conducted before the researchers can draw conclusions. The final report is expected in March 1995.
13. Ms Estelle Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to change the eligibility criteria for housing benefit; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Roger Evans: The measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 30 November will save taxpayers' money, help get people back to work and encourage those claiming housing benefit to make informed and responsible choices about where they live.
Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about the number of people eligible for housing benefit who do not claim; and what action his Department is taking to ensure a higher level of take-up.
Mr. Roger Evans: Responsibility for the administration of housing benefit lies with individual local authorities who are in the best position to undertake local publicity about it. Information about housing benefit is also available at all Benefits Agency and Employment Service agency offices.
Latest estimates of housing benefit take-up, which are for 1990 and 1991, indicate that between 93 per cent. and 97 per cent. of available benefit is being claimed by between 90 per cent. and 95 per cent. of those eligible. Further information on take-up estimates can be found in "Income Related Benefits--Estimates of Take-up in 1990 and 1991" published on 25 March 1994, a copy of which is in the Library. Estimates for the take-up of income-related benefits in 1992 are due to be published in the new year.
15. Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in which European countries changes to welfare benefits are taking place; and if he will make a statement.
In the United Kingdom we have approached the problem in a systematic way which is enabling us to protect the most vulnerable while not outstripping the nation's ability to pay.
Many other countries around the world are pursuing similar objectives.
16. Sir Anthony Durant: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will take steps to increase choice in pensions.
In addition, personal pension holders will no longer be forced to buy an annuity as soon as they take their tax-free lump sum. They will be able to draw an income from their fund each year and defer annuity purchase until a time of their choosing up to the age of 75.
17. Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he next expects to meet Sir Peter Webster to discuss help for the Maxwell pensioners.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The Government have already provided very substantial help to the Maxwell pensioners, but we are not a party to any of the claims Sir Peter Webster is seeking to resolve. It follows that Ministers are not holding discussions with him, although we naturally hope that there will be an outcome favourable to the pensioners.
18. Mr. Jacques Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the annual spending on family credit; and what the spending on family income supplement was in 1979.
Mr. Roger Evans: The published forecast for family credit expenditure for 1994 95 is £1,276 million. This is 18 times more in real terms than the £24 million spent on family income supplement in 1978 79.
19. Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applicants for income support were denied benefit under the habitual residence test in its first three months of operation.
Mr. Roger Evans: Provisional figures from the Benefits Agency indicate that 6,388 applicants failed to satisfy the habitual residence test. Approximately 2,300 of these were asylum seekers and were entitled to income support under the urgent cases provisions.
20. Dr. Goodson-Wickes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress he has to report on the introduction of medical procedures for eligibility for invalidity benefit.
Mr. Hague: Regulations relating to incapacity benefit, including those setting out the new arrangements for the medical assessment of incapacity, were laid on 24 November. The proposals for the new medical assessment were outlined in a report published on 28 September. Work is continuing on the detailed administrative and medical procedures for the new benefit and appropriate training programmes for staff are being put in place. The new benefit will be introduced on 13 April 1995.
21. Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if partners of unemployed benefit claimants will be able to work for up to 24 hours a week without losing entitlement to benefit following his proposed changes to the benefit system.
Partners' hours will have no effect on entitlement to the contributory element of jobseekers allowance.
22. Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what role work incentives play in his review of the benefit system.
Mr. Roger Evans: Reinforcing incentives to work is the central theme of the review. The far-reaching package of new measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 30 November at column 1205 demonstrate our continued commitment to that objective.
23. Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many former Ministry of Defence employees are currently drawing benefit associated with their exposure to asbestos.
24. Mr. Hutton: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about the work of the compensation recovery unit.
Mr. Roger Evans: The compensation recovery unit was set up in 1990 following new legislation to ensure that costs which ought to be borne by those liable to pay compensation do not fall on the taxpayer.
25. Mrs. Angela Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the number of families in respect of which a parent will return to work as a result of the introduction of a child care allowance in family credit.
26. Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimates he has made of the number
Column 95of families who will benefit from the introduction of a child care allowance in family credit.
Mr. Roger Evans: We estimate that, in the long term, around 50,000 people will take up work as a direct result of the introduction of the new help with child care charges in family credit, disability working allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit. Most of these will benefit through family credit.
27. Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he plans to include a back to work bonus in his reforms of the unemployment benefits.
Mr. Roger Evans: Yes, we plan to introduce a back to work bonus so that unemployed claimants who undertake part-time work while they are on benefit can receive a lump sum payment of up to £1,000 when they leave benefit to start work.
28. Ms Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he plans to implement the recent recommendations of the Social Security Committee on the Child Support Agency.
29. Mr. Dunn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he plans to introduce a social security card for the payment of benefits.
Mr. Arbuthnot: In May my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced plans to move as rapidly as possible to an automated system for paying benefit at post offices. That will reduce costs for taxpayers, be more secure for customers and guarantee the future of post offices.
Mr. Hague: The proposals I announced on 24 November include measures to tackle discrimination across the board, in employment, goods and services, education, transport and the provision of community care. They represent a comprehensive programme for enhancing the independence of disabled people.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the number and percentage of disabled people employed by his Department and associated agencies over the past five years; and what are the projected figures for the next five years.
Mr. Hague: The number of registered disabled people employed in the Department at 1 July 1994 was 1,574. This represented 1.8 per cent. of all staff. The information requested for earlier years is contained in the magazine "Independent", copies of which are in the Library. Projected figures are not available.
Column 96Department and associated agencies for each of the next five years for, and how many staff or staff hours equivalent have been allocated to achieve the objectives of, the programme for action to achieve equality of opportunity in the civil service for disabled people.
Mr. Hague: Departmental expenditure in support of the programme for action to achieve equality of opportunity in the civil service for disabled people cannot be quantified. The associated costs include modification to buildings and accommodation, staff training, and personnel and line management support and cannot be disaggregated.
The number of staff or staff hours equivalent allocated to achieve the programme for action cannot be estimated. Successful implementation requires the commitment not only of equal opportunities officers but of recruitment, training and personnel officers, together with individual line -managers throughout the Department.
Ms Lynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what meetings he has had with people with learning difficulties to discuss the Government's forthcoming legislative proposals for disabled people.
Mr. Hague: Since I became Minister for Social Security and Disabled People, I have met many organisations covering a wide range of disabilities, including the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation. I shall shortly be meeting People First, an organisation run by people with learning difficulties, and have already met some of its members.
Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has had about the financial burden on working parents likely to be caused by the levying of national insurance contributions on employer-funded child care outside the workplace.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what discretion local Benefits Agency staff have to authorise benefit payment to British citizens returning to the United Kingdom who are appealing against decisions to withhold benefit under the habitual residence test; are such British citizens and those guaranteed indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom eligible to apply for crisis payments; what benefits such people are eligible to apply for; and if he will list those publications published by his Department which give advice on such benefit eligibility.
Mr. Roger Evans: Adjudication officers do not have discretion to authorise benefit payments pending an appeal. British citizens who fail the habitual residence test may apply for a social fund crisis loan if, in an emergency or as a consequence of a disaster, they face serious risk to health and safety, and payment of a crisis loan is the only way of alleviating the situation.
Eligibility for other benefits will depend on a person's individual circumstances. There is a wide range of information leaflets covering eligibility for benefits, all of which are available free of charge from local offices of the Benefits Agency.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what instructions he has issued to Benefits Agency local staff about the application to British citizens returning to the United Kingdom of the habitual residence test; and what is his assessment of the numbers of such British citizens who have, to date, been refused benefit under the habitual residence test.
Mr. Roger Evans: No special guidance has been issued about British citizens. In the first three months of the test's operation, 1,053 initial decisions on British citizens have been negative, representing 13 per cent. of the British citizens who were asked about their habitual residence.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he intends to reply to the letter, dated 18 November, from Jane Hughes, deptuy manager, and Rubina Burhan, Asian advice worker, of Bradford citizens advice bureau, concerning the habitual residence test; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he is taking to review the implementation of the habitual residence test, with particular reference to the effects on British citizens and their dependents, especially children; what representations he has received on these matters; and if he will make a statement.
Ms Lynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the current annual figures for money spent from public funds on people (a) unemployed for six months, (b) unemployed for between six months and 12 months, (c) unemployed for between one year and two years, (d) unemployed between two years and three years and (e) unemployed between three years and four years; and what are the numbers of unemployed people in these five groups.
Mr. Roger Evans: The information requested on expenditure is not available in the form requested. The benefit costs of those in the five groups cannot be separated from the planned total expenditure on unemployed people, which for the year April 1994 to April 1995 is £10.11 billion . The numbers of unemployed claimants is in the table .
Duration of current |Thousands Numbers of spell of |unemployed unemployment |claimants -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Six months or less |1,057 Over six months and up to 12 months |538 Over 12 months and up to two years |437 Over two years and up to three years |228 Over three years and up to four years |141 Source: Half-yearly analysis of Unemployed Claimants-May 1994. Notes: <1> The information is taken from table 5 of the 1994 departmental annual report, a copy of which is in the Library. Expenditure for unemployment benefits is made up of unemployment benefit and principal income-related benefits and payments from the social fund to unemployed people and their families. <2> Figures are based on 5 per cent. sample. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand. Figures are for a point in time.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the proportion of the work force in companies with occupational pension schemes who do not make any contributions; and what is his assessments of the consequences of this estimate for future pensions decisions.
Mr. Arbuthnot: In 1991, the latest year for which figures are available, 1,180,000 members of private sector occupational pension schemes, or 18 per cent. of all members of such schemes, did not make any contributions.
It is for employers who run occupational pension schemes to decide whether or not members of their schemes pay contributions to the schemes, and the level of any such contributions.
[Source: Ninth survey by the Government Actuary, 1991].
Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what advice he has given to medical appeals tribunals regarding the weight they should give to reports by independent consultants when assessing applications for disability benefits for prescribed industrial diseases; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the reduction in the number of persons by grade and gender employed by his Department and associated offices and agencies, nationally and regionally over the next three years, as a result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget statement of 29 November, indicating which branch, agency and region will be affected and stating his estimate of the number of job losses in each year which will be by (a) natural wastage, (b) voluntary redundancy and (c) compulsory redundancy; and what estimate he has made of the yearly total of savings in wages and associated costs as a result of these reductions in each Department, branch and agency.
Mr. Hague: The information requested is not yet available. The Department's staffing plans for 1995 96, 1996 97 and 1997 98 will be set out in the 1995 departmental report, to be published in late February-early March 1995.
The Government's aim has been, and will continue to be, that reductions in the size of the civil service should as far as possible be achieved without redundancies.
Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the implications for tenants of Thamesmead Town Ltd. of the new measures for housing benefit outlined on 30 November.
Mr. Roger Evans: The proposals announced by the Secretary of State will apply to all tenants in the deregulated private rented sector, including tenants of Thamesmead Town Ltd. who newly claim housing benefit after October 1995 or for existing cases who change address after this date. We will consult interested groups, including representatives of the Association of Local Authorities on the details of the proposals.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the number of people who are eligible for occupational pension payments at retirement age but who have had their monthly pension payments substantially reduced as a result of those provisions of the Data Protection Act 1988 which prevent his Department from informing the Paymaster General that the persons concerned have reached retirement age and that pensions concerned should remain inflation-proofed.