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SOCIAL SECURITY

Pensioners

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many pensioners will benefit from the uprating of the minimum income for pensioners in line with earnings at the next benefit uprating; and what this number is as a proportion of the total number of pensioners receiving the basic state pension; [78039]

Mr. Timms: The information is not currently available. The information will be available as soon as the forecasts on which the requested figures are based have been published in the Departmental Report on 30 March. I will write to the hon. Member after publication of this Report.

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the uprating of the minimum income for pensioners will be in line with earnings at each annual uprating. [78038]

Mr. Timms: We have made it clear that our aim is to uprate the Minimum Income Guarantee in line with average earnings over time as resources allow. The increase next April will provide a further boost to the incomes of the least well-off among today's pensioners on top of this year's increase of three times the rate of inflation. We will review the economic situation and make decisions for future years at the appropriate time.

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Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioner households have weekly incomes of (a) £65 to £70, (b) £71 to £75, (c) £76 to £80, (d) £81 to £85, (e) £86 to £90 and (f) over £90 in the case of single pensioner households, and of (i) £110 to £120, (ii) £121 to £130, (iii) £131 to £140, (d) £141 to £150 and (e) over £150 in the case of pensioner couples. [78041]

Mr. Timms: The information is in the tables.

Number of single pensioners in selected income bands

Range of incomeNumber of single pensioners (Thousands)
£65 to £70180
£71 to £75200
£76 to £80220
£81 to £85130
£86 to £90130
Over £903,080

Number of pensioner couples in selected income bands

Range of incomeNumber of pensioner couples (Thousands)
£110 to £12080
£121 to £13080
£131 to £140110
£141 to £150160
Over £1502,100

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10,000, although they are not necessarily accurate to that degree.

2. 'Income' refers to the net weekly income of the single or couple.

3. Pensioners are defined as single (non-cohabiting) people over State pension age (65 and over for men, 60 and over for women), and couples (married or cohabiting) where the head is over State pension age.

4. Estimates are based on incomes reported in the 1996/97 Family Resources Survey, uprated to April 1998 prices.


Disablement Pension (Asbestosis)

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) men and (b) women, broken down by occupation, (i) are in receipt of a disablement pension for asbestosis and (ii) were made an award in the last year for which figures are available. [69932]

Mr. Bayley [pursuant to his reply, 15 February 1999, c. 535-36]: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

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Industrial injuries disablement benefit--newly diagnosed awards of asbestos-related diseases in the period 1 April 1997 to 31 March 1998

AllMenWomen
All occupations1,01699521
Corporate managers220
General managers110
Physical, mathematical and engineering science professionals330
Other professionals110
Physical and engineering science associate professionals17170
Life science and health associate professionals101
Teaching associate professionals101
Office clerks422
Personal and protective services workers642
Extraction and building trade workers2762751
Metal, machinery and related trades workers2982962
Precision, handicraft, printing and related trades workers51501
Other craft and related trades workers37343
Stationary plant and related trades workers95941
Machine operators and assemblers41365
Drivers and mobile plant operators69690
Sales and services elementary occupations14122
Agricultural, fishery and related labourers220
Labourers in mining, construction, manufacturing and transport96960
Armed forces110

Notes:

1. Figures are not available by occupation or attributable agent for the total numbers of people receiving benefit related to asbestos.

2. Asbestos related diseases that are prescribed for the purposes of industrial injuries Disablement Benefit are Pneumoconiosis (prescribed disease D1), where the attributable agent is asbestos; Diffuse mesothelioma (prescribed disease D3); Carcinoma of the lung (prescribed disease D8); and Bilateral diffuse pleural thickening (prescribed disease D9). The table shows new diagnoses for benefit purposes of these asbestos-related diseases, which have attracted an award of benefit in the 1997-98 year, by gender and occupation.

Source:

DSS (Analytical Services Division). Figures based on 100 per cent. data.


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Widows' Benefits

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost of (a) delaying the halving of the additional pension payments for widows whose spouse dies after 5 April 2000 until 2010, (b) delaying the reduction of the additional pension payments for widows whose spouse dies after 5 April 2000 and instead reducing the payments by 10 per cent. each year until 2004 and (c) delaying the reduction of the additional pension payments for widows whose spouse dies after 5 April 2000 until 2010 and then reducing the payments by 10 per cent. each year up until 2014. [75664]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 9 March 1999]: The information is in the table.

£ million
Cumulative costContinuing cost per annum
2000-0920102020203020402050
(a)5,6201,13074035011020
(b)1,71018011050100
(c)5,6201,19095047015030

Notes:

1. Costs are supplied by the Government Actuary's Department.

2. No allowance has been made for income related benefit offsets.

3. Costs are rounded to nearest £10 million and are presented in 1998-99 benefit rates.

4. Costs include SERPS pension paid to widows and widowers above the state pension age and to widows below state pension age.

5. The estimates are based on current legislation.

6. Real earnings growth of 1.5 per cent. has been assumed.


Housing Benefit

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to amend the housing benefit system. [77738]

Angela Eagle: Our aim is to modernise Housing Benefit so that it is fairer, better administered, secure and promotes the incentive to work. A Housing Green paper will be published later this year which will discuss options for reforms to Housing Benefit within the context of housing policy.

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Single Gateway

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what budgets have been allocated for each of the three phases of the Single Gateway pilot schemes. [78115]

Angela Eagle: The additional funding for the 12 single Work-Focused Gateway pilots, that is the amount allocated on top of that which would be required to administer benefits in the pilot areas under the current arrangements, has been allocated as follows:

£ million
YearAllocation
1998-200032.49
2000-0123.97
2001-0223.07

These amounts do not differentiate between the three phases. They include information technology and capital expenditure over the period of the pilots. The funding allocation for 1998-99 and 1999-2000 has been combined.


Unclaimed Benefits

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) of 8 March 1999, Official Report, column 52, on unclaimed benefits, what factors caused the error in the data; and when he expects to conclude his review of relevant data. [77995]

Angela Eagle: Take up of income related benefits is calculated by comparing an estimate of the number of people entitled to, but not receiving, each benefit with the number of people known to be claiming it.

The error was caused by a failure to include, in our calculations of entitlement, payments to widows from a deceased spouse's former employer (widows occupational pension). The failure occurred when these payments were first recorded separately from other occupational pensions in the Family Resources Survey, from which these estimates are made.

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This caused the Department's statisticians to under-estimate the incomes of some pensioners, leading to an over-estimation of benefit entitlement. This resulted in an over-estimation of the numbers of pensioners not claiming Income Support to which they are entitled.

We expect to publish a revised set of figures for 1996-97 in May.


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