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Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out the basis of his calculation of the number of people who will be taken off Housing Benefit as a result of the Working Families Tax Credit. [135262]

Angela Eagle: Estimates of the numbers of households taken off Housing Benefit as a result of the Working Families Tax Credit were produced using the Department of Social Security's Policy Simulation Model (PSM). The PSM is based on the Department's annual Family Resources Survey, which is a sample of around 23,000 households in Great Britain. Individuals' and households' income tax and national insurance liabilities, and entitlements to tax credits and social security income- related benefits, are modelled according to the prevailing tax and benefit rules and rates. The numbers in receipt of particular benefits are then calibrated to the forecasts for those benefits, published in the departmental report, or underlying the Pre-Budget Report.

The effects of Working Families Tax Credit on the number of Housing Benefit recipients was determined by modelling two different benefit systems--one with Working Families Tax Credit, and one as if Family Credit had continued in existence, with appropriate uprating of benefit rates. All other tax and benefit rules were kept the same in the two systems. Adjustments were then made to ensure coherence with other forecasts. Comparison of the two modelled systems then gives the effect on the number of Housing Benefit recipients.

Benefit Expenditure

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out the calculations behind the Government's statement that expenditure on contributory benefits will increase as a proportion of total benefit expenditure by 1.2 per cent. over the present Parliament. [135263]

6 Nov 2000 : Column: 94W

Angela Eagle: The information is in the table.

Contributory benefits expressed as a percentage of total benefits

1996-972001-02 Departmental Report2001-02 Spending Review
Contributory Benefits42,15949,95850,061
Total Benefits92,212106,479106,367
Contributory percentage of total45.7246.9247.06


1. The contributory benefits are Retirement Pension, Widow's benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance, Statutory Sick Pay, Incapacity benefit, Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity Pay, Guardian Allowance.

2. Total benefits include all local authority spending on Housing benefit and Council Tax benefit in addition to the money funded directly from Central Government.


Departmental report 2000. Spending Review 2000

The rise in contributory benefits as a proportion of total benefit expenditure over the present Parliament is the proportion for 2001-02 of 46.92 per cent. less that for 1996-97 of 45.72 per cent. which gives 1.2 per cent. This was calculated using figures from the Departmental Report 2000. The table also shows the latest figures for 2001-02 published in the Spending Review 2000. The increase using these figures is 47.06 per cent. less 45.72 per cent. giving 1.3 per cent.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many additional staff have been moved into frontline positions in his Department and its agencies since April. [135265]

Angela Eagle: 1,037 staff have moved, or are planned to move, from central and support services to the frontline under the organisational changes, announced in February, to focus the Department's resources on service delivery. It is expected that 2,500 posts will have moved by the end of this financial year, with a further 500 posts moved in the following year.

Benefits (Special School Pupils)

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what benefit entitlement there is for 16 to 18-year-olds in education in special schools in respect of (a) the pupil and (b) the pupil's parents; and if he will make a statement. [135537]

Angela Eagle: Child Benefit is normally payable to the parents of all young people who remain in relevant education until they leave school or until their 19th birthday if this comes first. For the purposes of benefit entitlement relevant education means non advanced education, usually up to A level standard and includes special schools.

Entitlement to other benefits for 16 to 18-year-olds in relevant education, (whether or not they are in special schools), and their parents, will depend on their circumstances.

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Those parents entitled to one or more of the income related benefits of Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based), Housing Benefit, or Council Tax Benefit, may include the young person in their claim as a dependant, and the relevant child personal allowance and premiums will be included in the assessment.

In certain instances, young people may claim Income Support in their own right, while continuing with their studies at school. These include those who are lone parents, young people who are severely mentally or physically handicapped, those who necessarily live away from their parents, and those who are estranged from their parents. Child Benefit ceases to be paid for young people who claim in their own right.

Young people who, because of a severe mental or physical disability need help with personal care or mobility for at least three months, and are likely to continue to need help for a further six months or more, may qualify for Disability Living Allowance, regardless of their parents' circumstances. In addition they may also qualify for Severe Disablement Allowance.

A parent who spends at least 35 hours a week caring for a young person who gets Disability Living allowance may claim Invalid Care Allowance.

Benefits Agency Staff

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what consultations he has held on the working practices and conditions of Benefits Agency staff; and if he will make a statement. [135527]

Angela Eagle: Benefits Agency (BA) management recognises and values the importance of obtaining the views of staff and their elected representatives.

BA has a formal Partnership Agreement with the Public and Commercial Services Union, the union who represent the majority of staff working for BA. The principles enshrined in this document are, for example allowing the unions the widest possible scope for influencing decisions prior to resolution, followed in consultation and negotiation when discussing any changes to staff's terms and conditions of employment.

Benefits Agency Doctors

Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the review of fees and expenses payable to doctors working on behalf of the Benefits Agency will be concluded. [135547]

Mr. Bayley: The third report of the Social Security Select Committee looking at the standards of service provided by Sema Group Medical Services states that the question of doctors pay is an issue for Sema Group Medical Services to address.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list in date order the Housing Benefit regulations and amendments to them issued since 1 May 1997. [135719]

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

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Central Recovery Group

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for what reason the Central Recovery Group failed to meet its estimates of revenue recovery in each of the last three years. [135479]

Angela Eagle: The administration of benefits is a matter for Alexis Cleveland, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. She will write to my right hon. Friend.

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Frank Field, dated 6 November 2000:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to respond to your Parliamentary Question asking for what reason the Central Recovery Group failed to meet its estimates of revenue recovery in each of the last three years.
The table below sets out the Central Recovery Group's overpayment recovery targets for the past three years, as set by the Department on behalf of the Secretary of State, and their achievement against those targets.

£ million

Year Target Performance

You will note that they have exceeded their target each year.

I hope this is helpful.

Severe Disablement Allowance

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the Government's plans to abolish Severe Disablement Allowance. [135538]

Mr. Bayley: The reform of Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) will refocus benefit on people disabled early in life who have never had the opportunity to work and gain entitlement to incapacity benefits through the payment of contributions.

At present, the poorest 70 per cent. of those receiving SDA also receive Income Support (IS). The IS rules require every pound of their SDA to be deducted from their IS so, in practice, they receive no benefit from SDA.

From April 2001, young disabled people under 20 (or 25 if they were in education or training that continued beyond their 20th birthday) will be given access to Incapacity Benefit without having to satisfy the normal contribution conditions. Based on current rates, they will gain up to £26.70 a week. No new SDA claims will be accepted but existing recipients will be protected and will continue to receive SDA for as long as they continue to satisfy the conditions of entitlement. In addition there are special linking periods of eight weeks, one year and two years for people who leave SDA before April 2001 to try work or training which would allow them to return to SDA if they are still within their linking period.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) new claims and (b) awards of Severe Disablement Allowance there were in each of the last 18 months. [136304]

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

Severe Disablement Allowance, new claims and awards

New claims received (Number)Spells commencing
December 19982,8961,900
January 19993,5271,100
February 19993,8571,100
March 19994,2271,300
April 19993,3421,100
May 19993,318600
June 19993,916800
July 19994,228800
August 19993,910700
September 19994,0641,300
October 19994,3541,000
November 19994,3771,100
December 19993,0161,300
January 20003,5481,000
February 20004,155600
March 20004,6921,200
April 20003,4811,100
May 20003,913800


1. New claims figures are a 100 per cent. count from Central Data Unit.

2. Awards figures are taken from a 5 per cent. scan of the benefit computer system and excludes a small number of cases held clerically. These figures are shown in thousands and have been rounded to the nearest hundred.

3. Awards in a particular month do not necessarily relate to claims received in that month.

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