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Blood Products (Canadian Ban)

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Canadian Government following the banning of British blood products; and if he will make a statement. [56991]

Ms Jowell: I have been asked to reply.

The Canadian Government have not banned British blood products.

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 547

SOCIAL SECURITY

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the occasions since 1 May 1997 on which a Minister in his Department has used (a) an aircraft belonging to the RAF and (b) a privately chartered aircraft together with (i) details of the take-off and destination points, (ii) ground waiting time, (iii) dates of departure and return, (iv) purpose of the trip, (v) cost of the trip to his Department and (vi) details of people accompanying the Minister, indicating the total costs of all such travel borne by his Department (1) since 1 May 1997 and (2) between 1 May 1996 and 1 May 1997. [55558]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 19 October 1998]: There are no occasions on which a Minister in this Department has used an aircraft belonging to the RAF or a privately chartered aircraft.

Pensioners

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the effect of an age addition to the basic state pension of (a) £5 for those aged 80 or over, (b) £3 for those aged 75 to 79 years and (c) both of the above on (i) expenditure on non means-tested benefits, (ii) expenditure on means-tested benefits and (iii) revenues from income tax, if such measures were to be introduced once the increases in pensioner benefits planned for April 1999 have been implemented. [55641]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 19 October 1998]: The information requested is in the table.

Full year expenditure and revenue effects of age additions in 1999-2000
£ million

(a) £5 age addition for over 80s(b) £3 age addition for 75-79s(c) £5 age addition plus £3 age addition
Expenditure on Retirement Pension590320920
Means-tested benefit offsets-220-90-310
Income tax offsets-40-20-60

Notes:

1. Estimates for Retirement Pension have been provided by the Government Actuary's Department.

2. Estimates for income tax revenues have been provided by Inland Revenue.

3. Means-tested benefit offsets have been estimated using the 1995-96 Family Resources Survey uprated to 1999-2000 prices and benefits levels.

4. Estimates are in 1999-2000 prices and benefit rates, and are rounded to the nearest £10 million.


Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 31 July 1998, Official Report, column 741, if he will provide a breakdown of how many of the pensioners who are disqualified because of excess capital from receiving the proposed minimum income guarantee but who have incomes below income support levels, have weekly incomes in the bands of (a) up to £9.99, (b) £10 to £19.99, (c) £20 to £29.99, (d) £30 to £39.99, (e) £40 to £49.99, (f) £50 to £59.99, (g) £60 to £69.99, (h) £70 to 79.99 and (i) £80 or above. [55658]

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 548

Mr. Denham [holding answer 19 October 1998]: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is set out in the table.

IncomePensioner benefit units with income less than Income Support applicable amount
Up to and including £69.99130,000
£70 and over100,000
Total230,000

Notes:

1. Estimates are based on the 1995-96 Family Resources Survey and are almost certainly subject to a degree of error; the true figures could be higher or lower than those given. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest 10,000 cases.

2. The requested breakdown of incomes was not possible due to small sample sizes.

3. Income is defined as income assessable in an Income Support claim plus income from investments.

4. A pensioner, for income support purposes, is a single person aged 60 or over, or a couple (married or living as married) where at least one of them is aged 60 of over.

Source:

1995-96 Family Resources Survey; Benefit rates as they will be in April 1999


Mortgage Interest Rates

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the mechanism by which income support is increased to offset increases in mortgage interest rates. [56572]

Angela Eagle: The standard rate used to calculate payments of Income Support mortgage interest is based on the weighted average of the main Building Societies' variable rates of interest. This has been the case since its introduction by the previous administration in October 1995. The average is calculated and published monthly by the Office for National Statistics in Financial Statistics table 7.1L. Changes in the standard rate, whether up or down, are triggered by a 0.25 per cent. or more move in the published figure.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about mortgage interest rate capping for those receiving social security payments for interest on mortgages; and for what reasons the Government propose to pay arrears that may have arisen. [56573]

Angela Eagle: A standard rate of interest is used in the calculation of mortgage interest included in Income Support and income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. This was introduced by the previous Administration in October 1995. Help is available towards interest on loans taken out to purchase the home or for certain essential repairs and improvements to it. We have no plans to change this arrangement.

Lone Parent New Deal

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to introduce a compulsory element of attendance within the Lone Parent New Deal; what exemptions there will be; and if he will list the criteria for those exemptions. [57404]

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 549

Angela Eagle: Participation in the New Deal for Lone Parents is voluntary. There is no requirement for lone parents either to attend a New Deal for Lone Parents interview or to look for work. From 26 October 1998, the New Deal for Lone Parents has been extended to all lone parents on Income Support, including those whose claim was established before April 1998.

The Government are committed to providing viable choices for lone parents who, in the past, were written off to a life on benefit and the New Deal for Lone Parents is a major step in achieving this objective. This approach is in tune with what lone parents want: the opportunity to work, and a better quality of life for their children.

From 2000, the Government plan to implement new legislation to make it a condition of receiving benefit that, when asked to do so, people take part in an interview to talk about their prospects of finding work. This requirement will initially be implemented in 12 pilot areas and will be introduced in ways that take account of individual circumstances.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many of those who have entered into the New Deal for lone parents are currently receiving housing benefit. [57405]

Angela Eagle: The information requested is not readily available and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many of those who have entered the New Deal for lone parents are still receiving income support. [57406]

Angela Eagle: The Government are committed to helping lone parents overcome the barriers to work through the New Deal for Lone Parents programme, which is available to all lone parents on Income Support with school age children. The programme provides a tailor-made service with support and advice on training needs, jobsearch, better-off calculations and local childcare services.

Information on the number of lone parents who have participated in the programme and moved into employment but, because of the number of hours they work, are still in receipt of Income Support is not readily available and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Benefit Integrity Project

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what the timetable will be for replacing the Benefit Integrity Project as proposed in Cm 4103; [57934]

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will give the date when he expects the new test to replace the Benefit Integrity Project; [58211]

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 550

Mr. Timms: In his statement of 28 October 1998, Official Report, columns 339-42, and the exchanges which followed discussing the next phase of the Government's plans to reform the welfare state, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear that we will introduce a modern, active approach to Disability Living Allowance which puts greater emphasis on getting claims right first time and which allows for regular reviews of claims in payment. He also emphasised that there would be no return to the situation that existed before April 1997, when nothing was being done to check that people were getting the right benefit.

The Benefit Integrity Project will continue until it is replaced by a new system which we will ensure is fair as well as sensitive. The characteristics of the new system and when and how it will be introduced will be the subject of future discussions with the Disability Benefits Forum. Once the way forward is determined estimates will be made of the likely costs and savings that may arise from the new system. We are keen to introduce this change as soon as possible but it is most important that we get it right.


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