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Mr. Lilley: I am very keen to see the involvement of the private sector in the project to introduce an automated system for paying benefit at post offices. We are therefore looking to the private sector to design, build, finance and operate systems for automation of post offices, and the introduction of benefit payment cards, under the terms of the private finance initiative.
Some 90 companies responded to a notice published in the Official Journal of the European Communities in August last year. On 9 December, Official Report, column 385, my hon. Friend was able to announce the names of five companies, some of which lead consortia, which have been invited to develop proposals.
18. Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the numbers and the percentages of unemployed who will gain the new jobseeker's allowance during its first year of operation; and how these figures differ from current claims for unemployment benefit.
Mr. Roger Evans: On current assumptions, 2,110,000 people would be receiving jobseeker's allowance at any one time in its first year of operation. Once transitional protection has ended, it is estimated that 90 per cent. of unemployed claimants will be receiving JSA. This compares with 20 per cent. who currently receive unemployment benefit.
The figures are in the table. The figures for 1996 97 reflect the transitional protection which will apply to unemployment benefit claimants in the first year of jobseeker's allowance.
Number of unemployed claimants by benefit entitlement |UB and IS, or |UB only, or |JSA based both |IS only, or |contribution-based|on contributions |income-based JSA |No benefit (NI |Total |JSA only |and on income |only |credits only) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ |381 |132 |1,763 |266 Latest actual estimates August 1994 |2,542 |15 per cent. |5 per cent. |69 per cent. |10 per cent. Estimates for 1996-97 assuming JSA |350 |100 |1,660 |300 system |2,410 |15 per cent. |4 per cent. |69 per cent. |12 per cent. Estimates for 1997-98 assuming JSA |240 |100 |1,730 |340 system |2,410 |10 per cent. |4 per cent. |72 per cent. |14 per cent. Notes: 1. UB = Unemployment Benefit. IS = Income Support. JSA = Jobseeker's Allowance. NI = National Insurance. 2. Assumes that in 1996-97 and 1997-98 the personal rate of Unemployment Benefit is higher than the personal allowance of Income Support for people aged 25 or over. 3. Assumes in 1996-97 and 1997-98 claimant unemployment of 2.4 million and an Unemployment Benefit caseload of 500,000. 4. Estimates for 1996-97 and 1997-98 rounded to the nearest 10,000. Current figures rounded to the nearest 1,000. Percentages rounded to the nearest percentage point. Individual figures may not sum due to rounding. 5. Assumes that claimants who lose entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance continue to sign for credits. If they do not, then the claimant total falls.
Mr. Roger Evans: The jobseeker's allowance is designed to help get people back to work, to secure better value for money for the taxpayer, and to improve the service to unemployed people themselves. Its financial effects are summarised in the explanatory and financial memorandum to the Jobseekers Bill.
Mr. Lilley: On 11 May 1994, I announced plans to automate the payment of benefits at post offices. Order books and girocheques will eventually be replaced by a benefit payment card which will allow access to payment information held electronically. This will reduce cost for taxpayers, be more secure for customers and guarantee the future of post offices. People wishing to be paid by automated credit transfer will continue to be paid in this way and will not hold a benefit payment card.
24. Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received in the last month concerning the operations of the Child Support Agency; and if he will make a statement.
25. Mr. Mike O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish details of the social security arrangements in other European countries which limit the payment of income-related benefits to persons who are not habitually resident in a country in which they claim benefit.
Mr. Roger Evans: Details of the social security arrangements, including payment of income-related benefits, in other European countries are in the following publications, copies of which can be found in the Library:
Social Protection in the Member States of the
Community--"MISSOC"--tables, published by the European Commission. Comparative tables of social security schemes in Council of Europe member states, published by the Council of Europe.
27. Mr. Jacques Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received on the action the Government are taking to tackle discrimination against disabled people.
Mr. Arbuthnot: We are committed to giving pensioners the choice of payment directly into their bank or building society by automated credit transfer or at a post office. If they choose to continue to receive their pensions at a post office, they can still be paid by ACT into a Girobank or National Savings account. For pensioners and others who do not want to be paid in this way, we are planning significant improvements in the delivery of benefits at post offices. The post office network will be automated, and orderbooks and girocheques replaced with a benefit payment card.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps his Department takes to ensure that payments of housing benefit to local authorities should at all times be in time to avoid any arrears arising on tenants' rent accounts due to late housing benefit payments.
Mr. Roger Evans: Housing benefit is paid by local authorities. Regulations require local authorities to make payments of housing benefit within 14 days of receipt of the claim or as soon as practicable thereafter. Local authorities are also required to make payments on account if it is impracticable to determine a rent allowance within 14 days of the claim being made provided that the delay is not due to the failure of the claimant to provide information in support of that claim.
Mrs. Maddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what has been the additional cost to the housing benefit budget of people moved out of care institutions under the care in the community programme to date.
Mr. Roger Evans: No information is collected about the number of people re-entering the community under the care in the community programme, or about their housing arrangements. Consequently, it is not possible to estimate the additional expenditure in housing benefit.
Mr. Roger Evans: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Bradley) on 10 January, Official Report , column 55 . I have nothing to add to the statement which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made on 30 November, Official Report , column 1205, concerning the measures we propose to introduce to tackle the rapid growth in housing benefit expenditure.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many self-employed people failed to qualify for sickness benefit due to inadequate contributions for each of the last 30 years;
(2) how many self-employed have failed to draw national insurance benefits in each of the last 30 years because of an inadequate contributions record; and if he will present these data according to each of the major national insurance benefits.
Mr. Hague: The available information for sickness benefit is in the table. Earlier figures can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Figures are not available for the other national insurance benefits.
|Number of sickness |benefit spells |commencing in the |period, where |the claimant |declared themselves |self-employed, and |did not satisfy |the contribution |conditions for the Period |payment of the |benefit. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 4 April 1988 to 1 April 1989 |24,000 3 April 1989 to 31 March 1990 |32,000 2 April 1990 to 30 March 1991 |38,000 1 April 1991 to 4 April 1992 |35,000 6 April 1992 to 3 April 1993 |35,000 Notes: 1. The employment status is that declared by the claimant at the start of their spell of incapacity, and is not verified by the Department. There are a number of spells where the employment status is not known or "other". 2. The information is based on a 1 per cent. sample of claimants to benefit in Great Britain, and is rounded to the nearest thousand.
Mrs. Maddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many households have received income support for mortgage interest; and what was the average amount of benefit received in each year since 1979.
|Number of cases with|Average weekly |Estimated annual |mortgage interest |amount of mortgage |expenditure on Year |included in the |interest included in|mortgage interest |assessment |the assessment (£s) |(£m) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1979 |98,000 |5.96 |31 1980 |134,000 |10.18 |71 1981 |196,000 |12.18 |124 1982 |235,000 |13.87 |170 1983 |242,000 |11.94 |150 1984 |277,000 |15.18 |219 1985 |- |- |- 1986 |356,000 |18.96 |351 1987 |334,000 |19.31 |335 1988 |300,000 |18.33 |286 1989 |281,000 |24.18 |353 1990 |310,000 |34.33 |553 1991 |411,000 |44.41 |949 1992 |499,000 |44.03 |1,143 1993 |555,000 |42.17 |1,217 1994 |548,000 |37.98 |1,082 1. Income Support replaced Supplementary Benefit in 1988. 2. All figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. 3. Figures are not available for 1985. 4. Mortgage interest has only been collected as a separate item since 1983. Previous estimates were based on owner-occupiers' residual housing costs and included an element for ground rent. 5. Estimated annual expenditure on mortgage interest is calculated as total numbers multiplied by average weekly amount multiplied by 52. Source: Supplementary Benefit/Income Support Annual Statistical Enquiries 1979-1993 for number of cases and 1983-1993 for expenditure. Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry February 1994.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many workers failed to pay full national insurance contributions in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will give the distribution and the spread and the number of weeks of contributions not covered by the weighted number of workers.
Column 74Letter from George Bertram to Mr. Frank Field, dated 17 February 1995:
As Acting Chief Executive of the Contributions Agency, I have responsibility for all operational aspects of the National Insurance scheme. I have been asked to reply to your question to the Secretary of State for Social Security regarding the number of workers who have failed to pay full National Insurance contributions (NICs).
I am afraid that our management information systems do not provide the information you have asked for in your question. I can however tell you that contributors who have not paid (or been credited with) sufficient contributions to provide a qualifying year for benefit purposes are notified through the issue of a
Column 75deficiency notice about 18 months after the end of the tax year. About 3.5 million deficiency notices are issued annually.
Deficiency notices provide contributors with the opportunity to confirm that the correct amount of contributions have been recorded on their NI accounts and, where appropriate provide for queries to be made or make up contributions paid. There are various reasons for deficient records, the most common being where earnings are below the appropriate threshold, persons may be employed for only part of the year or contributors may have spent time outside the UK. The 3.5 million do not include those married women who elected to pay reduced rate contributions. Because they have made such an election they are not entitled to pay make up contributions which make the deficient year count.
Separate arrangements exist whereby self-employed contributors are advised of liability for unpaid weeks through the Quarterly Billing payment system.
I regret that I am unable to give you the precise information that you requested but I hope that this reply will prove helpful.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, how many applications for disability living allowance have been lodged for each month since June 1994 for babies at the local district office for the parliamentary constituency of Lewisham, Deptford; how many were lodged nationally; of these, how many were refused; what were the grounds for refusal; how many lodged appeals and how many appeals were successful; and what is the average time taken to process appeals.
Mr. Hague: The administration of disability living allowance is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 17 February 1995:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about claims for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for babies.
Information is not available in the exact format requested. The vast majority of claims to DLA are forwarded by the applicant direct to one of eleven regional Disability Benefit Centres at which all claims to DLA are processed. Thereafter any action required is undertaken, in the main, by the Disability Benefit Unit at Blackpool. It is not possible to establish the number of claims, awards refused and appeals made within any particular Benefits Agency District area without incurring disproportionate cost.
However, I am able to provide you with the national figures as requested. As at 30 November 1994, 1,600 awards for DLA were estimated to be in payment for children aged under one. At the same date, 5,400 awards were estimated to be in payment for children aged between one and two. This information is an extrapolation of a 5% sample of the DLA liveload at the given date.
The average time taken to process all DLA appeals to the point at which the case is submitted to the Independent Tribunal Service (ITS) is 35 days. That average has been calculated for the period 1 April 1994 to 31 January 1995. The ITS is an independent body and the listing of hearing dates cannot be influenced by the Benefits Agency. When a Tribunal's decision is notified to the Benefits Agency by ITS the aim is to implement the decision within 10 days.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applications for family credit were lodged in November 1994, December 1994 and January 1995 in the local district office for the parliamentary constituency of Lewisham, Deptford; of these, how many applications for family credit are still waiting to be processed; what is the average time taken to process
Column 76applications for family credit; and what help is available to applicants who are experiencing unusually long delays in processing their applications.
Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of family credit is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 17 February 1995
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about Family Credit (FC) claims made from the Lewisham area; also about the time taken to process a FC claim and the help that is available to applicants who experience unusually long delays in processing their applications.
The vast majority of claims to FC are forwarded by the applicant direct to the FC Unit in Blackpool. Information is not available in respect of the number of applications lodged from any particular Benefits Agency District area.
The average time taken to process applications to FC for the months of November 1994, December 1994 and January 1995 are 13.19, 14.93 and 15.21 days respectively. The increase in the average clearance time over this period is due firstly to the loss of productivity over the Christmas period; secondly due to the FC Unit concentrating its resources on clearing cases where there has been a long delay. These cases have arisen due to an increase in workload experienced during October and November.
Help is available to those who are experiencing delays in processing their applications. Customers can contact the Family Credit Helpline Service on 01253 500050 where full explanations of any delay can be made and outstanding matters resolved if at all possible. Alternatively, customers can contact the Customer Services section in their local Benefits Agency office, or the Client Advisor in their local Employment Service office, who will attempt to expedite any outstanding claim.
If a customer is in financial difficulty as a result of an outstanding FC claim which cannot be resolved, a claim can be made to the Social Fund (SF) section at their local Benefits Agency office. Crisis Loans are available to anyone who needs financial help to meet expenses in an emergency or a disaster, who is facing serious risk or serious damage to their health or safety. The applicant does not have to be in receipt of any benefit, but any income or capital which he has will be taken into account by the SF officer.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many members of the Information Technology Services Agency have left in the last five years to take up employment with companies concerned with information technology or consultants; and if he will give the companies concerned.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The Information Technology Services Agency has records of seven staff who were given permission in the last five years to take up outside business appointments with companies concerned with information technology or consultants in accordance with civil service rules. The companies concerned were Siemens Nixdorf, Price Waterhouse, Andersen Consulting, ICL, BT Telecommunications, Syntegra and Fairhaven Computer Services.
Column 77levels of student maintenance are lower than the minimum income support threshold.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will reply to the letters dated 29 November 1994 and 5 January 1995 from the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford concerning her constituent, R. Wilson.
Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what account he has taken of the actual costs incurred in arranging a funeral when setting a new ceiling on social fund payments to those with insufficient funds to pay for a relative's funeral.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will express total Welsh manufacturing output for (a) 1994 and (b) 1993 as an index with total Welsh manufacturing output for 1979 equal to 100; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Richards: Data for 1994 are not yet available. The total output of production industries in Wales in 1993, indexed with 1979=100, is estimated to be 102.8. Information for manufacturing only, for 1993 and 1979, on a consistent basis, is not available.
Mr. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will publish a table showing for each year since 1990 (a) the number of finished consultant episodes completed and (b) the number of individual patients seen by doctors in hospitals.
Mr. Richards: Information on the number of completed consultant episodes is available only from 1991 92 onwards. The latest estimates of the number of completed consultant episodes and discharges and deaths each year are given in the following table. Information on the numbers of individual patients seen by doctors in hospitals is not available.
|Completed |consultant |Discharges |episodes<1>|and deaths ------------------------------------------------ 1990-91 |n/a |577,400 1991-92 |619,600 |627,700 1992-93 |660,900 |662,700 1993-94 |709,400 |712,500 Source: Patient episode database for Wales, Form QS1. Note: <1> Not all hospitals return complete information to the patient episode database for Wales. The figures on completed consultant episodes will therefore slightly underestimate activity.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will express the total manufacturing output in Wales at factor cost and constant 1994 prices for (a) 1994, (b) 1993 and (c) 1987; and if he make a statement.
Mr. Richards: Total manufacturing output at factor cost and current prices in Wales was estimated at £6,081 million in 1993 and £4,485 million in 1987. No official Welsh deflators are available to convert the figures to constant prices. Information for 1994 is not yet available.
Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will visit York Road county primary school, Connah's quay; (2) if he will visit York Road CP school, Connah's quay to discuss staffing with the governors and parents.
Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what consultations he has had with the Education Assets Board concerning Custom House county primary school, and if he will make a statement; (2) when he expects to resolve the problems concerning a building on the site of Custom House CP school Connah's quay, and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Richards: I have had no consultations with the Education Assets Board concerning the annexe to the Custom House Lane county primary school at Connah's quay, nor would it be proper for me to do so in view of the appeal I have received from Clwyd county council. This case is under active consideration and I shall reach a decision regarding the appeal in due course.
Mr. Richards: Objectives for people in Wales with osteoporosis are included in the Welsh health planning forum guidance on physical disability and discomfort and on injuries, and in the forum advice on health and social care for older people.
Column 79in Wales where there are no longer any dentists taking on new NHS patients.
Mr. Richards: The information is not held centrally. General dental practitioners are independent contractors who are free to choose who they will accept on to their NHS dental lists. Most dentists have NHS patients on their lists but may open and close those lists to new patients as they see fit. The situation may vary from week to week.
If any person has difficulty in obtaining treatment from a general dental practitioner, they should contact their local family health services authority which is best placed to advise on local availability of NHS dental services, including emergency dental clinics and the community dental service.
Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what are the specific differences pertaining for Wales and not England that have led to his Department being in the consultation process for the implementation of the EU habitats directive at present when in England policy planning guidance was issued in October 1994;
(2) what is the compliance date that his Department has to observe in respect of the EU habitats directive; and when he expects to issue a policy planning guidance paper to enable the directive to be complied with in Wales.
Mr. Gwilym Jones: The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations 1994 make provision for the purpose of implementing, for England, Scotland and Wales, the habitats directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, and came into force on 30 October 1994. The directive requires member states to submit a list of proposed special areas of conservation to the Commission by June 1995. The Commission has to establish a list of sites of community importance by June 1998 and the member states then have a further six years in which to designate the sites as special areas of conservation. Draft planning guidance is being prepared and my right hon. Friend intends to go out to consultation with Welsh interests before the summer.
Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, if he will list the sixth form colleges in Wales by local education authority giving the numbers of teachers employed and students attending in each case.
Mr. Richards: There is one such college in Wales--St David's Roman Catholic sixth form college in south Glamorgan. The college employs 57 full and part-time lecturers and at November 1994 there were 787 students attending.