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Income Support

26. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to raise the current savings thresholds for income support. [111857]

Mr. Bayley: We will bring forward our proposals later.

Lone Parents

27. Ms Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the impact of Government measures since May 1997 on the level of benefit dependency among lone parents. [111858]

Angela Eagle: Lone parents are benefiting from the raft of measures introduced by this Government to help them move into work and to ensure that work pays. These include the New Deal for Lone Parents; the Lone Parent's Benefit Run-On; the Working Families Tax Credit (including the child care tax credit) the National Childcare Strategy and the National Minimum Wage.

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NDLP has helped over 41,000 lone parents obtain jobs, one in three of those participating in the programme. The evaluation of the NDLP prototype phase showed that it had a small positive effect on the number of lone parents moving off Income Support.

New Pensioners (Payments)

28. Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on delays in the calculation and the making of payments to new pensioners. [111860]

Mr. Rooker: Most State Pensions are being paid to new pensioners within the normal clearance target timescales. The National Insurance Recording System computer (NIRS2) is providing the information to enable the Benefits Agency to invite people approaching pension age to claim their pension and to process the claim on receipt.

However, NIRS2 cannot provide the additional pension (SERPS) component of the pension award in all cases. The Benefits Agency has put in place contingency arrangements to make clerical calculations in these cases. Extra staff have been provided for this.

Welfare to Work

29. Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what further proposals he has to assist those moving from welfare to work. [111861]

Angela Eagle: Welfare to Work is a key priority for us. We believe in a modern welfare state which encourages and helps people to work when they can, as well as providing support for them when they cannot. We have already set in place many innovative projects, some involving the public and private sectors working in partnership, to do just that.

We have a wide range of initiatives already in place, including the New Deal for Young People and the New Deal for Lone Parents which have helped over 200,000 find employment, and the New Deal for Disabled People which is providing practical help enabling those who want to work to realise their ambitions. Two million disabled people already work and over one million more want to. From April this year, the New Deal for the Over 50s will be rolled out nationally.

In addition, the ONE Service is currently being tested in 12 pilot areas around the UK. This offers personalised advice and support through a Personal Adviser to those of working age. Participation in ONE is, at present, voluntary but, from April this year, participation in a work-focused meeting with a personal adviser will become part of the normal process for people of working age claiming benefits in the pilot areas.

These reforms link in with the wider Government agenda. Colleagues in the Treasury and the Inland Revenue are ensuring that work pays by improving in-work incomes through initiatives such as the National Minimum Wage and the Working Families Tax Credit.

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Pensions

33. Mr. Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he is taking to improve the public's knowledge about pensions and saving for retirement. [111867]

Mr. Rooker: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Cunningham) on 7 February 2000, Official Report, column 5W.

ONE Service

34. Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on progress in the implementation of the ONE service. [111868]

Angela Eagle: All 12 of the ONE pilots are successfully operating in various parts of the country. We are already helping people plan ways to become more independent. We are improving the level of service we provide by ensuring that the Benefits Agency, Employment Service, local authorities and private and voluntary sector bodies work in partnership.

Although it is too early to judge the level of success we have had in helping people move from welfare into work, the initial response from clients using the new service has been very encouraging.

State Earnings-related Pension Scheme

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has made to the Ombudsman about his inquiry into the administration of the state earnings-related pension scheme. [111854]

Mr. Rooker: With the Department's assistance, the Ombudsman has been investigating four sample complaints from individuals about the inheritance of SERPS. We look forward to receiving his report.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what will be the process for checking the accuracy of arrears statements at the time when existing child support cases are transferred to the new system for child support. [111777]

Angela Eagle: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mrs. Faith Boardman. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Faith Boardman to Mr. Kidney, dated 3 March 2000:



    The process of migrating data from the existing Child Support Computer System to the new system will be complex and work is being undertaken to asses show this is to be achieved. No decisions have yet been made on a preferred approach. However, the Agency is committed to performing case checks on all live cases bringing assessments up to date where appropriate prior to migration of cases to the new system.


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    I hope this is helpful.

Vaccine Damage Deaths

Mr. Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many awards have been made under the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979 in respect of children who have died following vaccination. [112624]

Mr. Bayley: The existing Vaccine Damage Payment scheme, which has been in place since 1979, provides a one-off payment to people severely disabled by vaccination against certain diseases. In three cases the vaccinated person had died by the time the payment was made, two children and one adult.

Verification Framework

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many local authorities (a) have the Verification Framework in place and fully operational, (b) are implementing it at present and (c) have accepted funding and intend to implement it. [113187]

Angela Eagle: At 3 March 2000, 140 local authorities had certified that, having received set-up funds from the Department, they are fully complying with all the requirements of the Department's Verification Framework. A further 102 local authorities have either already received funds or accepted the offer of funds to implement the Verification Framework fully and are at various stages of their implementation. 242 local authorities have accepted funds to implement the Verification Framework.

Unclaimed Benefits

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the number of women over the age of 60 years who are not claiming the benefits to which they are entitled in the (a) constituency of Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East, (b) Teesside Region, (c) Northern Region and (d) United Kingdom. [113211]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available in the format requested. It is not possible to produce reliable estimates of numbers not claiming their entitlement at constituency, regional or sub-regional levels. There is no evidence that the pattern of Northern Region take-up of Income Support for women over 60 is above or below the national average; the scope for Regional estimates will be kept under review. Information on a national level is in the table.

Estimates of single female pensioners not taking up their entitlement to benefit in 1997-98
Thousand

BenefitFemales
Income Support450,000
Council Tax Benefit480,000
Housing Benefit120,000

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest ten thousand.

2. The questions were interpreted as requesting information on single males and single females.

3. Figures are based on data from the Family Resources Survey, 1997-98.

4. Figures are subject to sampling error.


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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the number of men over the age of 65 years who are not claiming the benefits to which they are entitled in the (a) constituency of Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East, (b) Teesside Region, (c) Northern Region and (d) United Kingdom. [113210]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available in the format requested. It is not possible to produce reliable estimates of numbers not claiming their entitlement at constituency, regional or sub-regional levels. The scope for Regional estimates will be kept under review. Information on a national level is in the table.

Estimates of single male pensioners not taking up their entitlement to benefit in 1997-98
Thousand

BenefitMales
Income Support100,000
Council Tax Benefit130,000
Housing Benefit40,000

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest ten thousand.

2. The question was interpreted as requesting information on single males.

3. Figures are based on data from the Family Resources Survey, 1997-98.

4. Figures are subject to sampling error.



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