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Social Security Expenditure

15. Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the current real rate of growth of social security spending and what were the figures in 1992-93. [3584]

Mr. Lilley: Social security spending has grown on average by almost 5 per cent. a year faster than inflation since the welfare state was established. Over the next three years it is expected to grow by just over 1 per cent. a year.

Work Incentives

16. Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the place of work incentives in his review of the benefit system. [3585]

Mr. Burt: Throughout my right hon. Friend's review of the social security system, helping people to return to work has been a central focus. Initiatives include the earnings top-up scheme and our planned introduction of a four-week extension of help with housing costs to smooth the transition into work.

We are building on existing work incentives. For example, the child care disregard in family credit and disability working allowance will be increased by £20 per week to £60 next April.

Identity Cards

17. Mr. Sumberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to introduce a social security card for the payment of benefits. [3586]

Mr. Heald: We intend to phase in the replacement of order books and giros with benefit payment cards starting next year. We estimate this will save £150 million per year in benefit fraud when fully implemented.

Occupational Pensions

18. Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of retiring people currently receive an occupational pension and what the proportion was in 1979; and what was the average value of an

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occupational pension in 1979 and in the latest year for which figures are available. [3587]

Mr. Heald: In 1979, 55 per cent. of recently retired pensioners were receiving an occupational pension with an average value of £56.10 per week. By 1993, the latest year for which figures are available, the proportion in receipt had risen to 66 per cent. and the average value to £89.10.

Allowances (Disabled People)

19. Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will review the recent changes in allowances for people with disabilities. [3588]

Mr. Burt: The only recent change affecting benefits for disabled people was the replacement of sickness and invalidity benefits by incapacity benefit on 13 April. All aspects of the new scheme are very closely monitored to ensure that the benefit goes to those who are genuinely incapable of work.

National Disability Council

20. Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects to announce the membership of the new National Disability Council. [3589]

Mr. Burt: We expect to announce the membership of the National Disability Council in January 1996.

Smoking

21. Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make it his policy to ban smoking in all public buildings under his control. [3590]

Mr. Roger Evans: It is the Department's policy that smoking is not allowed in public reception and interview areas of its offices. In certain other parts of our buildings smoking is prohibited and we also aim to provide a smoke-free environment in working areas.

Departmental Priorities

22. Mr. Janner: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the current priorities of his Department. [3591]

Mr. Lilley: My priorities are:


Private Pension Funds

23. Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the total amount of funds in private pension provision in the United Kingdom; and what is the equivalent figure for the other European Union countries. [3592]

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Mr. Heald: In 1992, the total amount of funds in private pension provision in the United Kingdom was around £500 billion. This is more than the equivalent figure of around £480 billion for all the other European Union countries combined.

24. Mr. Batiste: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the total amount of funds in private pension provision in the United Kingdom; and what is the equivalent figure for the two next largest European Union countries. [3593]

Mr. Heald: In 1992, the total amount of funds in private pension provision in the United Kingdom was around £500 billion. This is more than three times the amount in either of the two European Union countries with the next highest level of pension funds--£160 billion for Germany and £140 billion for the Netherlands.

Asylum Seekers

25. Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the effect of his proposals to withdraw benefit from asylum seekers on local authorities. [3594]

Mr. Roger Evans: Local authorities have been consulted on these proposals through their associations. I will consider their responses shortly.

Incentives to Work

26. Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what reforms of the benefit system he is planning to help unemployed people back to work. [3595]

Mr. Roger Evans: Helping people back into work is a key theme of our reforms of benefits for the unemployed. When the jobseeker's allowance is introduced in October it will include a range of incentives to strengthen people's contact with the labour market.

Residential Care Homes

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are his estimates for spending in future years on income support payments to nursing home residents. [3331]

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

Spending in future years on income support nursing home residents

Year£ million
1995-961,115
1996-971,040
1997-98997

Source: 1995 Departmental Report.


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Revised estimates will appear in the 1996 departmental report.

Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if current residents of residential and nursing homes will continue to receive the higher rate of mobility in disability living allowance in 1996-97; if new residents to such establishments in 1996-97 will also receive these benefits; and if he will make a statement. [5483]

Mr. Roger Evans: Yes. There are no plans to change the current arrangements.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security to what extent and in what respects the outcome of claims for incapacity benefit has differed from the estimates made prior to the introduction of the benefit. [3459]

Mr. Burt: The Benefits Agency is controlling the throughput of incapacity benefit claims to ensure that the flow of work does not exceed operational capacity. This controlled take-on of work means that the cases processed so far are unrepresentative of the case load as a whole. It is not yet possible to draw any firm conclusions about the effectiveness of the incapacity benefit in meeting the objectives set prior to its introduction.

Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many of those in receipt of invalidity benefit in the Merthyr benefit area have been subjected to the review under the new incapacity benefit rules; how many of those were (a) men and (b) women; and how many have had invalidity benefit withdrawn. [4101]

Mr. Burt: Information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Second-tier Pensions

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to encourage provision of second-tier pensions for non-working women; and if he will make a statement. [3488]

Mr. Heald: The state earnings-related pension legislation provides, for people reaching pension age after April 1999, that regulations may be made to enhance the SERPS entitlement of those who are precluded from regular employment by caring responsibilities at home. It is intended that regulations will be brought forward at the appropriate time.


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