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Pension Credit

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will publish the consultation document on pensioners' credit. [135062]

Mr. Rooker: The Pension Credit consultation paper will be published in the next few weeks.

Private Sector Pensions

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of private sector organisations had some form of pension provision in each year since 1990 on the same basis as Table 2.5 of Department of Social Security Research report No. 123. [135266]

Mr. Rooker: I regret the information is not available as it was not collected prior to 1996.

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action the Financial Services Authority is taking against personal pension schemes that have been labelled stakeholder-friendly that do not conform with the requirements of the scheme. [134647]

Mr. Rooker: The Financial Services Authority continues to monitor "stakeholder friendly" advertisements and reviews the selling of personal pensions as part of its ongoing supervision of firms. Clearly it is not right for consumers to be misled into thinking that a personal pension meets all the prospective stakeholder standards if it does not.

Providers should satisfy themselves that they are acting in compliance with the guidance on the selling of personal pensions issued in October of last year by the Financial Services Authority.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate the Government have made of the likely share of the pension market that will be taken by stakeholder pensions. [134559]

Mr. Rooker: What share of the pensions market that will be taken by stakeholder pensions will depend on the marketing of stakeholder pensions by providers and on individual choices by savers.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many employees of the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority will be responsible for checking that the administration of stakeholder pensions meets the conditions laid down in the relevant regulations. [134528]

Mr. Rooker: The Authority currently has a small team working full-time on the registration of stakeholder pension schemes and developing regulatory procedures, together with a number of staff who work partly on the stakeholder pensions project alongside other duties. The Authority has not yet determined how many staff will be employed on stakeholder pensions once schemes begin operating. That will depend on the total number of schemes which are registered, the number of reported breaches, and the approach the Authority decides to take in fulfilling its regulatory responsibilities.

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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what checks will be made to ensure the stakeholder pension schemes keep to the 1 per cent. administration charge limit; and how frequently these checks will be made. [134529]

Mr. Rooker: The Stakeholder Pension Scheme Regulations 2000 (SI 1403) require the trustees or managers of schemes to make a written statement at least once a year, describing the scheme's compliance with the regulations which impose limits on the amount of charges and the manner in which charges may be made. Schemes must also appoint a reporting accountant and obtain the reporting accountant's opinion on the statement. We are in discussions with representatives of the accountancy profession on the form of the reporting accountant's opinion.

The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) will be responsible for regulating compliance with the conditions for registration as a stakeholder scheme, including the charge limit. The annual compliance statement and reporting accountant's opinion will be available to Opra. Opra will be developing its approach to the regulation of stakeholder schemes in the light of experience, taking into account the overall number of registered stakeholder schemes.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many stakeholder schemes have been registered to date; and on what date each registration took place. [134550]

Mr. Rooker: As at 26 October, five stakeholder pension schemes have been registered. Four schemes were placed on the register on 18 October and a further scheme was registered on 20 October.

The registered schemes, in alphabetical order, are--The Barclays Stakeholder Pension Scheme, Britannic Stakeholder Pension Scheme, Natwest Life Stakeholder Pension Plan, Norwich Union Stakeholder Pension Scheme, and Royal and Sun Alliance Life and Pensions Limited Stakeholder Pension Scheme.

Details of the stakeholder pension schemes register are available on the Opra website at www.stakeholder.opra.gov.uk.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the stakeholder helpline will begin operation; and what targets the Government will use to determine the success of the helpline. [134547]

Mr. Rooker: The stakeholder pensions telephone helpline will begin operation on 2 November. The service will provide impartial information for people who want to know more about stakeholder pensions. Service standards for answering calls have been agreed with the Pensions Advisory Service who will operate the helpline. Evaluation of the quality of the service is expected to include mystery shopping and customer call backs.

Petrol (Pensioners)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the effect of increases in petrol prices on the living standards of pensioners. [134417]

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Mr. Rooker: In 1998-99, 'pensioner households' spent an average of £5.70 a week on petrol, diesel and other motor oils. This represented around 3 per cent. of their disposable income on average. In comparison households where the head was aged under 65 spent an average of £15.50 a week (4 per cent. of disposable income). Therefore the effect of increases in petrol prices would be smaller for pensioners than non-pensioners.

Given that expenditure on petrol, diesel and motor oils represents a small proportion of disposable income for pensioner households, the effect of price increases on living standards would be even smaller.


Benefits (Publications)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the (a) application forms for benefits, (b) information leaflets about benefits and (c) other publications that are issued for the public by the Benefits Agency. [134554]

Angela Eagle: The information has been placed in the Library.

Lone Parents

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many lone parents who have found work through the New Deal for Lone Parents have a youngest child aged (a) 14 years and above, (b) 15 years and above and (c) 16 years and above. [134658]

Angela Eagle: By the end of July 2000, 63,801 lone parents had found work through the New Deal for Lone Parents. Analysis of this data by the age of the youngest child is not available.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment the Government have made of the proportion of lone parents who have found work under the New Deal for Lone Parents who return to income support within (a) one month, (b) six months and (c) one year. [134656]

Angela Eagle: By the end of July 2000, 63,801 lone parents had found work through the New Deal for Lone Parents (NDLP). The number of lone parents returning to Income Support will form part of the evaluation of NDLP which is currently underway and which will report in 2002.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many lone parents work for fewer than 16 hours a week; and how many he estimates will do so after the introduction of the £20 disregard on earnings. [134657]

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Angela Eagle: In May 2000, there was 61,000 lone parents on Income Support and 1,600 on income-based Jobseeker's Allowance working fewer than 16 hours a week 1 .

The introduction of the £20 disregard on earnings is likely to encourage more lone parents to take-up part-time work. However, it is not possible to quantify such effects.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many lone parents are on Income Support, broken down into those with a youngest child (a) below secondary school age and (b) of secondary school age. [134587]

Angela Eagle: The information is in the table:

The number of lone parents in Great Britain receiving Income Support shown by age of youngest child Thousand

Number of claimants
Below secondary school age (under 11)751.1
Secondary school age (over 11)159.0
All cases910.10

Notes:

1. Lone Parents are defined as single claimants with dependants who are not receiving the disability or pensioner premium.

2. Below secondary school age is defined as under 11 years, and secondary school age is defined as over 11 years and over.

3. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.

4. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred and quoted in thousands.

Source:

Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, May 2000



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