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Benefits (Under-25s)

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost of bringing benefit levels for people under 25 years in line with benefit levels for people aged over 25 years in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) Scotland. [106576]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the tables.

We are unable to estimate with any accuracy the cost of bringing Housing Benefit levels for the under-25s up to the 25 years and over levels. There is insufficient quantitative information on how this group responded to the change introduced in 1996, and without this information we cannot estimate the behavioural effects of reversing the change.

Costs for Great Britain
£ million

Age groupNew entitlementExisting case loadTotal
16-17254570
18-2410180190
Total35225260


25 Jan 2000 : Column: 169W

Costs for Scotland included in the figures for Great Britain

Age groupNew entitlementExisting case loadTotal
16-17055
18-2404545
Total55050

Notes:

1. Data are for Great Britain not the UK, as the Secretary of State for Social Security is not responsible for Social Security in Northern Ireland.

2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £5 million.

3. There are costs of less than £5 million for new entitlement in Scotland. Totals do not match due to rounding.

Sources:

1. Estimates from the Family Resources Survey of 1996-97, uprated to 1999-2000.

2. Data from the Quarterly Statistical Enquiry of August 1999.


Minimum Pension Guarantee

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects the review of the minimum funding requirement for the minimum pension guarantee to reach a conclusion. [106736]

Mr. Rooker: I will write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate how many additional pensioners would qualify for the minimum pension guarantee if the saving limits were lowered by (a) £1,000, (b) £2,000, (c) £3,000, (d) £4,000 and (e) £5,000. [106707]

Mr. Rooker: No additional pensioners would benefit, if the savings limits in the Minimum Income Guarantee were reduced by the amounts proposed; in fact some pensioners would lose benefit entitlement completely.

Pensioners

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of the population are pensioners in (a) each county in the United Kingdom and (b) each constituency in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [104759]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 20 January 2000]: The information has been placed in the Library.

Pensions Uprating (Overseas Residents)

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will respond to the Third Report of the Social Security Select Committee 1996-97, Uprating of State Retirement Pensions Payable to People Resident Abroad. [106422]

Mr. Rooker: The previous Government responded to the Third Report of the Social Security Select Committee 1996-97, Uprating of State Retirement Pensions Payable to People Resident Abroad on 19 March 1997, recorded in the Official Report, 19 March 1997, column 680W. There is no requirement for the present Government to respond.

25 Jan 2000 : Column: 170W

Thalassaemia

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to improve financial and respite support for carers of sickle cell and thalassaemia sufferers. [106198]

Mr. Bayley: We have introduced the Carers Special Grant, amounting to £140 million over three years for English local authorities. The Grant must be spent on improving short term breaks for carers and on consulting them on the type of services they would value.

In addition, the National Carers strategy committed the Government to keeping financial support for carers under review, which we are doing.

Tariff Incomes Schedule

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to review the tariff incomes schedule of attributed income from savings of pensioners; and if he will estimate how many additional pensioners would qualify for the minimum pensions guarantee if it were lowered to a national yield of 6 per cent. [106657]

Mr. Rooker: An estimated 10,000 pensioners would become newly entitled to the Minimum Income Guarantee if a 6 per cent. rate of return is applied to savings over £3,000. Overall, 70,000 pensioners would gain from the change.

However, it should be noted that around 50,000 pensioners with savings at the lower end of the tariff scale would lose benefit, with a small number losing entitlement completely.

Rent Restriction

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost of abolishing the single room rent restriction for under 25s in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland. [106575]

Angela Eagle: We are unable to estimate with any accuracy the cost of abolishing the Single Room Rent restriction. There is insufficient quantitative information on how this group responded to the change, and without this information we cannot estimate the behavioural effects of reversing the change.

Pensioner Incomes

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the additional annual cost of the minimum income guarantee if annual increases are in line with earnings rather than prices in (a) 2005, (b) 2010, (c) 2020 and (d) 2050; and what would be the further cost in each of those years of paying the basic state pension at the same rate as the minimum income guarantee. [105474]

Mr. Rooker: Estimates for the cost of the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) for the years shown are not available. This is because it is extremely difficult to obtain accurate projections of the future level and distribution of income and assets.

The cost of paying the basic State pension, including linked benefits, at the same rate as the MIG is shown in the table. The net cost takes into account savings made in means-tested benefits.

25 Jan 2000 : Column: 171W

£ billion

Gross costNet cost
2005-0610.88.7
2010-1115.713.5
2020-2128.324.6
2050-5187.3--

Notes:

1. Figures are in £ billion and are in 2000-01 price terms.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest £100 million.

3. Gross costs are estimates provided by the Government Actuary's Department. Costs net of means-tested benefits have been calculated using the 1999-2000 Policy Simulation Model based on the 1996-97 Family Resources Survey, and by PENSIM, a dynamic microsimulation model used to project pensioners' incomes to 2025. Net cost estimates for 2050-51 are not available.


HEALTH

Care Standards Bill

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the formal and informal consultation exercises conducted by (i) his Department and (ii) the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions which are (a) current and (b) recently completed and which are relevant to the matters covered by the Care Standards Bill [Lords]. [104177]

Mr. Hutton: The matters covered by the Care Standards Bill (Lords) have been subject to extensive consultation over a long period. Many of the measures were set out in the White Paper "Modernising Social Services" (Cm 4169--copies of which are available in the Library), which followed various consultation exercises. The matters relating to private and voluntary healthcare were subject to consultation following the publication of "Regulating Private and Voluntary Healthcare: A Consultation Document", copies of which are available in the Library.

Since the Bill's publication, I and my Ministerial colleagues, and officials in the Department have held a number of discussions about the provisions of the Bill with representatives of provider interests, service user groups and professional interests. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has held no consultations specific to the Care Standards Bill.

Methadone

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the current annual cost to the National Health Service of methadone; and what is the latest estimate of the number of patients in each health authority area being prescribed methadone. [105257]

Ms Stuart: The net ingredient cost of prescription items dispensed in the community for methadone hydrochloride in England in 1998 was £10.8 million. Information on methadone dispensed in hospitals or drug treatment clinics and the number of patients receiving prescribed methadone in each health authority is not available.


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