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Departmental Employees (Disabled People)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of the total workforce in his Department is registered as disabled; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of disabled people in his Department. [102044]

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Mr. Bayley: Existing data indicate that 4.1 per cent. of employees in the Department have stated that they have a disability.

This Department has put a range of measures in place to encourage the employment of people with disabilities, using the Cabinet Office "Programme for Action to Achieve Equality of Opportunity in the Civil Service for Disabled People". This sets out action checklists for all departments, covering the recruitment, retention and career development of people with disabilities. In addition, this Department participates in the "Positive about Disabled People Symbol" scheme (known as the "two ticks" symbol).

Departmental Employees (Ethnic Minorities)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of the total work force in his Department is of ethnic minority origin; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of people from the ethnic minorities in his Department. [102728]

Mr. Bayley: Existing data indicate that 5.83 per cent. of employees in the Department are of minority ethnic origin.

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office set out in his reply of 16 December 1999, Official Report, column 264W, corporate action that we are taking to encourage the employment of people from minority ethnic groups. This Department aspires to improve the diversity of its work force at every level and has put in place a range of measures specifically to encourage the employment of people with minority ethnic backgrounds and address current under-representation, particularly at senior levels.

In addition to our plans to improve in the area of recruitment, we have a number of initiatives for developing the talent already in the Department. We are committed to achieving our goals by setting realistic but stretching targets by 31 March 2000 which will be underpinned by action plans encompassing imaginative outreach and positive action initiatives. Some specific examples are:

    liaising with ethnic groups and ethnic community leaders to identify the scope of potential recruitment candidates and work towards breaking down perceived barriers. Producing equal opportunities policy statements in different languages has assisted in this respect;

    targeting schools and universities with a high percentage of minority ethnic students;

    taking part in careers fairs to attract minority ethnic undergraduates who may be suitable for fast stream development;

    participating in the Windsor Fellowship Scheme, which is run by an educational trust to introduce minority ethnic undergraduates as student placements to prepare them for management careers;

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Winter Fuel Allowance

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans the Government have to extend the £100 winter heating allowance to disabled people below the age of retirement. [103864]

Angela Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the Written Answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mrs. Gilroy) on 20 December 1999, Official Report, column 325W.

Council Tax Rebate Allowances

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received about changes to the calculation of non-dependant income contributions to council tax rebate allowances; and if he will make a statement. [103723]

Angela Eagle: While we have not received any representations on this issue, we have recently announced changes to the non-dependant deductions scheme. These changes were included in the annual benefit uprating package which was announced to the House on 9 November. From April 2000, non-dependant deductions for Council Tax Benefit will increase by 7 per cent., which is in line with average council tax increases. The income thresholds at which the level of deductions are set will, as is customary, rise by the ROSSI index (1.6 per cent.).

Information Technology Services Agency

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what conditions he has identified as reasonable cause to terminate outsourcing contracts for the Information Technology Services Agency in terms of (a) cost, (b) delay and (c) failure to meet operational needs. [103623]

Angela Eagle: The Department is in detailed discussions and negotiations with its preferred IT supplier, Affinity. This work will not be complete before February and it is not until then that the detail of the contracts, in respect of termination, will have been finalised.

We intend to make sure that sufficient contractual safeguards are in place in the event that the service provider fails to meet the contractual service requirements. Termination is one of the safeguards under discussion.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he next plans to meet trade union side representatives to discuss plans for outsourcing at the Information Technology Services Agency. [103624]

Angela Eagle: The Department has met with representatives from the Trade Union Side (TUS) at both Agency and Departmental level since the initial announcement regarding the future IS/IT Strategy for the Department. I also met with representatives of Departmental and Agency TUS on 25 November to discuss their concerns regarding the decision to outsource.

Regular meetings between the Agency and the local TUS are taking place and a schedule of meetings, up to the end of March, has been agreed. A consultation framework has also been agreed between ITSA and TUS.

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The working relationship with the TUS in ITSA and consultation process is well established. We are being kept informed of all significant outcomes of meetings with TUS. We have no current plans to have further meetings with the TUS on this matter.

Appeal Tribunals

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what remuneration, pensions and allowances are paid by his Department to persons who are appointed under the Social Security Act 1998 to act as members of an appeal tribunal; and if he will make a statement. [103731]

Angela Eagle: My right hon. and noble Friend The Lord Chancellor has set up a panel of persons to act as members of appeal tribunals and has made all appointments to it. The panel has 67 full-time members (excluding the President of appeal tribunals), all of whom are legally qualified. There are 1,971 part-time members with legal, medical and financial qualifications and with experience of dealing with the needs of disabled persons.

Full-time panel members are salary paid. The average annual salaries at November 1999 were £99,022 for panel members heading the six regions within the Appeals Service and £83,146 for the remaining full-time members. Travelling and, where applicable, subsistence allowances are also payable to full-time panel members where they are required to attend a tribunal hearing away from their normal venue.

As judicial appointments, full-time panel members belong to the Judicial Pensions Scheme but some have elected to have their pension benefits paid by analogy with the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme.

Part-time panel members are paid on a daily or sessional (half day) basis. The current rate of fees is set out in the following table:


Fee per sessionper dayPreparation fee (11)
Legally qualified138.50277.00(12)30.00
Medically qualified (non-specialist)103.00206.00--
Medically qualified126.00252.00(12)27.00
Financially qualified118.50237.00--
Experience of disability63.50127.00--

(11) Preparation fees are payable to legally qualified panel members and medical specialists who hear appeals relating to Industrial Injuries Scheme benefits, Severe Disablement Allowance and Vaccine Damage

(12) Per session

(13) Per day

Pensions are not payable to part-time panel members, but they may claim travel expenses for journeys between their home and tribunal venues. Where applicable, subsistence allowance is also payable.

Other fees and allowances payable include training fees, lengthy attendance fees and fees for sessions which are cancelled.

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Benefits (Scotland)

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people in Scotland, under the age of 18 years, are in receipt of (a) Income Support, (b) Housing Benefit, (c) Jobseeker's Allowance and (d) Lone Parent Benefit as part of Child Benefit. [103866]

Angela Eagle: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

Number of people under 18 in Scotland who receive Income Support, Housing Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and Lone Parent Benefit as part of Child Benefit

Benefit typeClaimants aged 16 and 17
Income Support (August 1999)2,100
Housing Benefit (May 1998)(14)700
Jobseeker's Allowance (August 1999)600
Lone parent addition as part of Child Benefit (August 1999)700

(14) The Housing Benefit figure is based on a 1 per cent. sample and therefore subject to a high degree of sampling error. For example, the estimate of 700 could lie within the range of approximately 200 to 1,200.


1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance and Child Benefit figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and as such subject to a degree of sampling error.

3. Precise figures cannot be provided because the figures have been extrapolated from small samples and will therefore be subject to a high degree of sampling error.


Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry, August 1999-- 5 per cent.

Jobseeker's Allowance Statistics Quarterly Enquiry, August 1999--5 per cent.

Housing Benefit Management Information System, annual 1 per cent. inquiries taken on the second Thursday of May 1998.

Child Benefit Computer System--5 per cent. sample.

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