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Cancer Patients (Prescription Charges)

Mr. Sutcliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what considerations led him not to exempt life-saving drugs for long-term cancer patients from prescription charge.[15774]

Mr. Malone: Exemption from prescription charges on medical grounds was introduced in 1968. A limited list of qualifying medical conditions, which require life-long medication, has applied since then.

When these arrangements were established, general exemption and charge remission arrangements were not as extensive as they are today. In 1996-97, we expect about 85 per cent. of prescription items to be dispensed free, whereas in 1968 the comparable figure was about 42 per cent.

Standard Spending Assessments

Sir Julian Critchley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what account is taken of population in setting social services standard spending assessments; and if he will make a statement. [15729]

Mr. Bowis: Population size is one of the factors taken into account in calculating standard spending assessments for social services. In addition, a variety of indicators are used to reflect the relative need for social services in each local authority.


Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the "The Health of the Nation" sub-group on asthma reported to the chief medical officer; when he

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expects to reach a conclusion on the recommendation of the chief medical officer; and if he will make a statement.[14297]

Mr. Horam [holding answer 12 February 1996]: The ad hoc advisory group reported to the chief medical officer in April 1995. The report is being considered in the light of that of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants "Asthma and Outdoor Air Pollution", published in October 1995. We shall announce out conclusions in due course.


Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths occurred in each of the past five years as a result of (a) peanut allergic reaction, (b) Ecstasy use and (c) excessive water intake. [14344]

Mr. Horam [holding answer 12 February 1996]: During the years 1990-94, one death occurred, in 1993, resulting from a peanut allergic reaction.

One other death occurred in 1993 from food-induced anaphylaxis, where a peanut was the probable cause.

The number of deaths registered in 1990-94 with a mention of Ecstasy were as follows:

YearNumber of deaths

During the years 1990-1994, the number of deaths from excessive water intake 1 were as follows:

YearNumber of deaths

(4) International Classification of Diseases (9th Revision) code 276.6--fluid overload.

(5) Provisional. (Deaths for 1992 and earlier years represent the number of deaths registered in each year, while deaths from 1993 onwards are deaths occurred in each year).


Administration Costs (Benefits)

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the administration costs are of each benefit in percentage terms for (a) 1993, (b) 1994 and (c) 1995.[12832]

Mr. Burt: The available information is in the table. The administration costs of each benefit are expressed as a percentage of benefit expenditure, for the financial years 1992-93, 1993-94 and 1994-95.

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Retirement pension1.21.21.1
Widow's benefit3.13.12.5
Unemployment benefit15.317.511.8
Sickness and invalidity benefit4.94.83.9
Maternity allowance20.317.512.9
Non-contributory retirement pension1.10.40.8
War pension4.94.24.7
Attendance allowance4.83.73.7
Invalid care allowance3.74.13.7
Severe disablement allowance6.15.04.9
Mobility allowance(6)6.8----
Disability living allowance7.15.25.1
Disability working allowance256.665.743.9
Industrial injuries disablement benefits9.08.47.3
Income support10.410.210.3
Child benefit and one parent benefit2.32.12.3
Guardian's allowance3.97.214.2
Family credit4.64.43.7
Social fund51.761.146.1
Housing benefit3.43.05.8
Council tax benefit12.410.39.4

(6) 1994-95 benefit expenditure figures source: Departmental Report 1995.

1. Disability living allowance replaced mobility allowance and attendance allowance for under 65s from April 1992.

2. Benefit and administration expenditure is subject to different influences, with the latter particularly affected by factors such as staff costs and capital investment. The estimates of administration costs are based on the Government case accounting convention and therefore include any investment spend incurred in the current year.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many new claims for disability living allowance were received in 1994-95; and how many of those claims were rejected by the Benefits Agency.[15201]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: The information is not available in the format requested. Figures are collected for claims processed in a year and also for disallowances. However, a claim received in one year, for example in March 1995, may not be decided until the following statistical year, for example in April 1995. Information available is set out in the table.

Disability Living AllowanceAwards and disallowances on new claims between 1 April 1994 and 31 March 1995(7) (8) (9)

Claims received504,000
Claims disallowed(9)256,000


Analytical Services Division.


(7) Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.

(8) 100 per cent. data.

(9) Also includes disallowances made by disability appeal tribunals.

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Funeral Costs

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will meet funeral directors' representatives to discuss the average size of funeral bills, with particular reference to cremation dues and other items excluded from DSS grants. [15377]

Mr. Roger Evans: Meetings were held with representatives of the three main funeral directors' associations prior to the changes to the social fund funeral payment scheme implemented in June 1995. It was agreed that future liaison meetings would be held with officials. There are no plans to change these arrangements.

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what research he has carried out to establish the costs charged by funeral directors. [15379]

Mr. Evans: The amounts charged and awarded for funeral directors' fees under the previous funeral payment scheme were reviewed before changes were made. A specification was prepared following discussions with the three main national funeral directors associations. The specification now restricts the type of coffin and number of cars allowed. It is the Government's view that an amount of up to £500 is a reasonable amount to pay for the funeral director's fees, included within the specification.

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish guidelines on the items to be included in or excluded from DSS assistance with funeral bills. [15376]

Mr. Evans: The information is contained in:

Leaflets D49 and D49S may be obtained from the office of the local registrar of births, deaths and marriages. All social security leaflets are available from social security offices and may also be obtained from the citizen's advice bureau and other advice centres.

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he has taken to safeguard income support claimants who are unable to pay the difference between the cost of a funeral and the DSS funeral grant. [15378]

Mr. Evans: Income support claimants who are responsible for meeting the expenses of a funeral may be entitled to a social fund funeral payment.

The social fund payment includes the reasonable cost of the funeral directors' fees, up to £500, and the necessary cost of disbursements for either a burial or cremation.

Where funds are available from the deceased estate or the claimant has capital over £500--£1,000 if over 60--this will be taken into account when making an award.

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It is the Government's view that an amount up to the capped level of £500 is a reasonable amount to pay for the funeral directors' fees in respect of a dignified funeral. Where a claimant is unable to obtain the services of a funeral director within the reasonable amount, or chooses to spend more on the funeral than provided from the social fund, they may consider using any available capital, seek help from other family members, or come to mutually agreeable terms with the funeral director to pay the balance.

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