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Dr. Mawhinney: Since the judgment of 20 December. I have given very careful consideration to the night flying restrictions which were announced on 6 May last year. The Government recognise the need to ensure that local communities are not exposed to excessive levels of aircraft noise at night. We have decided not to propose any changes. This fulfils the Government's intention of keeping noise levels at Heathrow and Gatwick below those permitted in summer 1988. The new consultation paper explains more fully what was meant in paragraph 34 of the original consultation paper of January 1993, to meet a point which was challenged in the High Court.
The consultation paper is being widely circulated to Members of Parliament, local authorities and environmental groups, as well as to the aviation industry. The Department is asking for comments on the proposals by 9 May; a copy has been placed in the House of Commons Library.
Additionally, I am writing to the chief executive of BAA plc to ask him to consider carefully whether there is more that BAA or the airlines can do on a voluntary basis to reduce disturbance caused by night flights.
Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the number of people in receipt of invalidity benefit in the Merthyr/ Rhymney/Cynon benefit district who are over the age of 58 years; and who will be exempt from the changes on the grounds of severe disability.
Column 452Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Ted Rowlands, dated 9 March 1995:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your Parliamentary Question about Invalidity Benefit (IVB) recipients in the Benefits Agency's Merthyr/Rhymney/Cynon district.
All customers over the age of 58 on 13 April 1995 who have been continuously in receipt of IVB since 1 December 1993 will be automatically exempted from the new all work test for Incapacity Benefit.
An estimate has been made using information derived from a statistically valid sample obtained by computeer scrutiny of IVB caseloads on 21 January 1995.
The estimate of the number of people in the
Merthyr/Rhymney/Cynon area in receipt of IVB over the age of 58 who will be exempt from the new all work test is 3,360.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people are currently receiving invalidity benefit in the Merthyr/Cynon/Rhymney benefit district; what percentage this is of the total population of working age; and what are the average percentages for (a) the Welsh and (b) the English and Welsh averages.
People in receipt of invalidity benefit and percentage of working population |People in receipt of|<3>Percentage of the |invalidity benefit |working population ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Merthyr/Cynon/Rhymney district |<1>23,834 |17 Wales |<2>172,000 |10 England |<2>1,184,000 |4 England and Wales |<2>1,356,000 |4 Notes: <1>Figure obtained from a 100 per cent clerical count of cases in the Benefits Agency offices on the last working day of January 1995. The figure will include some people who have claimed but are not actually receiving invalidity benefit because they are in receipt of a higher overlapping benefit. <2> Invalidity benefit recipients at 3 April 1993, based on a 1 per cent. sample of claimants, rounded to the nearest thousand. <3> The working population has been taken to be 16 to 64 for men and 16 to 59 for women. Estimated mid-year population figures supplied by the population estimates unit, Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many absent parents are paying the minimum weekly contribution towards child maintenance; and what proportion of assessments this figure represents.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Donald Dewar, dated 9 March 1995:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State or Social Security about the number of minimum weekly contributions to child maintenance and the proportion of the number of child maintenance assessments made by the Child Support Agency this represents.
Information available following a sampling exercise of Child Support Agency cases conducted in October 1994, shows that 48,800 cases, 16 per cent. of assessments completed at that time, were assessed for the absent parent to pay the minimum weekly contribution. Information on the number of such cases where maintenance was actually being paid is not available.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in what proportion of Child Support Agency cases where an assessment has been made no child maintenance has been paid; and what action he has taken.
Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Donald Dewar, dated 9 March 1995:
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the proportion of cases where no maintenance has been paid following an assessment by the Child Support Agency.
As at the 3 February 1995 the Agency was dealing with a total of 179,000 accounts that had been set up for the collection of maintenance through the Agency collection service, following the completion of a maintenance assessment. In 42 per cent. of those cases no maintenance had yet been paid. Of course, a number of these accounts have only recently been set up, but of the remainder, interim maintenance assessments (IMA) have been made against the majority of the absent parents who have not met their obligation to pay child maintenance. Enforcement action will be considered against absent parents who still do not pay after the issue of an IMA. The Agency continually reviews its accounting procedures to ensure that where a child maintenance assessment has been made and collection requested, that maintenance is collected. It has introduced a number of management action and implemented specially designed work packages to secure the collection of the maximum amount of maintenance.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the average reduction in the amount of child support bills caused by the changes announced in February 1994 and January 1995.
Mr. Burt: It was estimated that, for those absent parents who were affected by the February 1994 changes, the average reduction in maintenance would be £5 to £10 per week. For those who will be affected by the changes to the formula proposed in the recent White Paper, "Improving Child Support", the average reduction in maintenance is expected to be some £8. Any reductions due to the proposed departure system will be in addition to this.
Column 454Figures for average reductions do not indicate the range of reductions, which can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of individual cases.
(2) if he will instruct the Benefits Agency to improve the availability of information relating to young people's benefit entitlement and ensure that it is placed in locations which young people use, including schools, colleges and youth clubs;
(3) if he will instruct the Benefits Agency to ensure that (a) all staff are aware of young people's entitlement to claim for severe hardship payments and (b) young people are informed of this entitlement when they ask about benefits;
(4) what plans he has to ensure that compulsory training for Benefits Agency staff is enforced.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Ms Tessa Jowell, dated 9 March 1995:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the availability of information and procedures for young people who wish to claim benefits.
Every Benefit Agency (BA) District Office is required to have a nominated benefit manager with responsibility for service delivery to 16 17 year olds. All local office staff have been made aware of young people's right to claim severe hardship payments and staff dealing with claims from 16 17 year olds will have completed specialist training. In addition, staff holding a Certificate of Authority from the Secretary of State to make severe hardship directions to pay Income Support, will have undertaken further specialist training in the handling of claims from young people.
A handbook "Income Support for 16 17 year olds", a copy of which is in the Library, is available in all offices. This details the procedures to be followed and contains a section on best practices. One of the recommendations is that offices set up local liaison groups with other Agencies and outside bodies with an interest in the welfare of 16 17 year olds. Many of these groups exist and work well to resolve local difficulties.
Consideration is being given to simplifying the process for claiming payments under the severe hardship provision from April 1996 through the delivery of the new benefit Job Seekers Allowance. The BA is always looking at ways of improving its targeting of information. We are currently reviewing how the BA targets its main customer groups and the distribution of information to them. Currently there are two leaflets specifically for young people. These are FB23 "Young people's guide to Social Security" and IS26 "Income Support if you are 16 or 17". I have enclosed copies of the leaflets, which are also in the Library.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the cost to the housing benefit bill in Scotland would be of (a) reducing the housing benefit taper to 50 per cent. and (b) increasing the earnings disregard for single people to £10 per week and for couples to £25 per week based upon the 1993 94 distribution.
Mr. Roger Evans: The estimated cost of (a) changing the housing benefit taper to 50 per cent. is £50 million, and (b) changing the earnings disregards to £10 a week for single people and £25 for couples is £15 million.
1. Based on data taken from the 1990 91 92 Family Expenditure Surveys modelled at 1994 95 prices and benefit levels.
2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £5 million. 3. For the earnings disregard, disabled couples are assumed to be entitled to the new couples disregard rather than the disabled person's disregard of £15.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many applicants for disability living allowance seek a review of their case after rejection of first consideration by his Department;
(2) how many applicants for disability living allowance who have failed to get their application accepted on first consideration or on review then appeal to his Department;
(3) how many applications for disability living allowance are granted following an application for a review of a refusal by his Department;
(4) how many disability living allowance applications have been granted on first consideration by his Department;
(5) how many applications for disability living allowance are granted on appeal by his Department.
Mr. Hague: The information requested about awards on claims, reviews and appeals for disability living allowance is not available in the form requested. The available information is in the table. An award on review or appeal may be the result of a variety of factors, such as a deterioration in the claimant's condition or the provision of additional information.
Disability living allowance |<1>Numbers February |(thousand) 1992-January 1995 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- New awards<2> |845 Reviews received<3> (within three months) |299 Reviews received<3> (outside three months) |336 Successful reviews<4> |277 Appeals received |59 Successful appeals<4> |24 Source: Analytical Services Division (100 per cent. data). Notes: <1>A claimant may apply for a review or appeal against an award as well as a rejection. The figures quoted are for all applications for review and appeal. <2>New awards are awards on initial claims only and not on review or appeal. <3>There will be registered reviews and appeals which have not yet reached the decision stage of the review or appeal system. <4>Successful reviews and appeals are those where DLA was allowed for the first time, another component was awarded or the rate(s) payable increased.
Column 456industrial injury benefit to take account of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Mr. Hague: Carpal tunnel syndrome in association with the use of hand-held vibrating tools is already included in the list of prescribed diseases for industrial injuries disablement benefit purposes (prescribed disease A12).
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if the new contribution linking arrangements for jobseeker's allowance will take account of the period when a carer is unable to claim invalid care allowance because the disabled person is still within the six or three- month waiting period for attendance allowance and disability living allowance;
(2) what will be the position of ex-carers who had (a) an underlying entitlement to invalid care allowance or (b) a broken record of receipt of invalid care allowance or underlying entitlement with regard to the new contribution linking arrangements for ex-carers who wish to claim jobseeker's allowance.
Mr. Roger Evans: Periods in receipt of invalid care allowance will be included in the linking provisions for contributions-based jobseeker's allowance. The precise details of this arrangement, including the position of carers in cases where a disabled person is serving a qualifying period, are still under consideration.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the size of the Treasury grant to the national insurance fund in 1993 94 and 1994 95; what estimate he has made for grants in each of the next three years; and to what extent these grants are to cover the subsidy being paid to state earnings-related pension scheme contributors transferring into private pension schemes.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The Treasury grant to the national insurance fund was £7,589 million in 1993 94 and £6,280 million in 1994 95. For 1995 96 the percentage grant now set by order will amount to a maximum of £4,075 million. The level of Treasury grant for future years will be set at the appropriate time and will depend on the estimated income and outgo of the fund then. Estimates are not therefore available for later years, but working assumptions suggest that the grant could fall to £2.3 billion by 1997 98.
The Treasury grant is a general contribution to the national insurance fund and is not attributed to any particular aspect of the fund's expenditure, of which the rebates to providers of approved personal pension is just one.
Column 457for the maximum amount allowed for funeral payments from the social fund.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has for his Department's exceptions to the capping of funeral payments under the social fund for instances of special needs with special reference to the weight, size and height of the deceased, pacemaker removal and out-of-hours removals.
Mr. Roger Evans: The proposed cap on social fund funeral payments of £875 is intended to be a sum sufficient to meet the costs of a straightforward funeral which is dignified and respectful, or to make a very substantial contribution towards it. It is not intended to meet the cost of all variations and eventualities.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how (a) funeral directors and (b) others will be kept informed of procedures following the capping of funeral payments under the social fund.
Mr. Roger Evans: I shall be writing to the funeral directors' associations. Advice will be made available locally through revised forms and leaflets. District offices will be encouraged to liaise with local funeral directors.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will discuss with the National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs the effects of functional disabilities and limitations imposed by alterations in the respiratory system; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if he will consult the National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs in respect of the new rules regulating invalidity benefit.
Mr. Hague: The development of the medical assessment for incapacity benefit included an open consultation process, to which the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund, an associate of the National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs, contributed. If the National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs has further comments on the medical assessment, I would be happy to receive them.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Our proposals for ensuring that married couples are treated equally in the state pension scheme are set out in the White Paper, "Equality in State Pension Age", Cm 2420, a copy of which is in the Library. The legislation needed to implement these proposals is included in the Pensions Bill. Dependency increases payable with other benefits are already available on an equal basis.
Column 458a reduced personal rate of income support following failure to attend or complete a restart course (a) nationally and (b) in each region, since March 1994.
Number of reductions in income support personal allowance following failure to attend or complete a mandatory restart course Territory |Totals (thousands) |April 1994 to |December 1994 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Southern England |7.6 Wales and Central England |8.2 Scotland and Northern England |6.5 National total |22.3 Note: Figures are provisional and subject to amendment.
Mr. David Porter: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what help is being given to those retired people who were unable to make private pension provisions when they were of working age; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Arbuthnot: People who have retired since 6 April 1979 may be entitled to receive an additional pension from the state earnings-related pension scheme or a contracted-out equivalent, as well as their basic state pension. Those whose employment patterns have been interrupted because of caring responsibilities may have their basic pension entitlement safeguarded by the home responsibilities protection provisions.
Pensioners who have income below specified levels may, subject to their circumstances, be entitled to receive income-related benefits such as income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Income-related benefits are kept under constant review and are uprated regularly in line with prices. In addition, income- related benefits for poorer pensioners since 1988 have been increased by some £1.2 billion, over and above inflation.
Mr. Arbuthnot: Information is not available in the form requested. The information in the table shows the percentage growth in pensioners' average income for the years 1974, 1979 and 1992, the latest year for which figures are available.
Increase 1974-92 Increase 1979-92 (net income) (net income) |Before housing costs|After housing costs |Before housing costs|After housing costs |(per cent.) |(per cent.) |(per cent.) |(per cent.) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Pensioner couples |54 |64 |46 |56 Single pensioners |55 |57 |49 |53 All pensioner units |58 |64 |50 |58 Notes: 1. Source: Family Expenditure Surveys for 1974, 1979 and 1992.2. Pensioner units are single persons over state pension age and couples of whom the husband is over state pension age.
Mr. David Porter: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment his Department has made recently of the comparative incomes of retired people in the United Kingdom and other European Union member states; what factors he has taken into account to make such comparisons; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Arbuthnot: A report of research commissioned by this Department from the social policy research unit at the university of York, entitled "Incomes and Living Standards of Older People--A Comparative Analysis", was published on 26 January. A copy is available in the Library. The report is based on a comparison of 11 countries, eight of which are members of the European Union. It found that the United Kingdom has a more equal distribution of income among its older population and a more effective benefit safety net than many other major industrial countries. It concluded that to make meaningful international comparisons it is necessary to take account of all income sources for older people including private occupational and personal pensions and non-cash income sources.
Mr. Hague: Since April 1992, disabled people aged between 60 and 65 may be entitled to disability living allowance, which meets some of the extra costs of care and mobility needs arising from disability. Attendance allowance is available to disabled people over the age of 65. Both benefits are non-contributory and non-means tested and provide help to increasing numbers of disabled people. Medical adjudication has been replaced by self assessment and entitlement to benefit is determined by lay adjudication officers. The benefits also serve to establish entitlement to other benefits such as invalid care allowance, severe disablement allowance and disability premiums of income support. The policy intention behind all benefits is kept under continuous review.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the expenditure arising from the payment of (a) contributory benefits, (b) non-means tested non-contributory benefits and (c) means tested non-contributory benefits for claimants below retirement age in (i) 1978 79 and (ii) 1993 94 in 1993 94 prices.
|1978-79 benefit |1993-94 benefit|expenditure in |expenditure |1993-94 prices |(£ millions) |(£ millions) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Contributory benefits |39,575 |30,697 Non-contributory means-tested benefits |28,634 |7,714 Non contributory non-means-tested benefits |14,189 |7,060 Note: 1. These figures have been taken from the 1995 Social Security Departmental Report and earlier equivalents. P -94 prices
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people he estimates in 1995 96 who are (a) current claimants of invalidity benefit and (b) new claimants of incapacity benefit will fall in each of the categories to be treated as incapable of work by virtue of (i) receipt of the highest rate of disability living allowance care component, (ii) suffering from a progressive disease, (iii) registration as a blind person, (iv) tetraplegia,(v) persistent vegetative state, (vi) dementia, (vii) paraplegia, (viii) a severe learning disability, (ix) a severe and progressive neurological and muscle-wasting disease,(x) an active and progressive form of inflammatory polyarthritis, (xi) a progressive impairment of cardio-respiratory function, (xii) dense paralysis of upper limb, trunk and lower limb on one side of the body,(xiii) multiple effects of impairment of function of brain or nervous system, (xiv) a severe and progressive immune deficiency state or (xv) a severe mental illness.
Mr. Hague [holding answer 7 March 1995]: We do not have information on the number of existing invalidity benefit claimants who are in receipt of the highest rate of care component of disability living allowance. We estimate that there will be no more than 130,000 such claimants. We estimate that around 405,000 existing invalidity benefit claimants will fall into the exemptions for severe medical conditions; 110,000 of these claimants are expected to be exempt because of severe mental illness. Estimates have not been made for the other individual types of condition. Some of those who fall into the exemptions for severe medical conditions will be among those receiving the highest rate of care component of disability living allowance.
We estimate that no more than 10,000 new claimants of incapacity benefit a year will be in receipt of the highest rate of care component of disability living allowance. We estimate that around 40, 000 new claimants of incapacity benefit a year will fall into the exemptions
Column 461for severe medical conditions; 20,000 of these claimants are expected to be exempt because of severe mental illness. Some of those who fall into the exemptions for severe medical conditions will be among those receiving the highest rate of care component of disability living allowance.
The estimated figures have been rounded up to the nearest 5,000.