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Widowers' Benefits

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the implications for recently widowed men are of last year's out-of-court settlement with Mr. Christopher Crossland on widowers' benefits; and what new help will be offered to men who are widowed before the new benefit rules come into force next year. [135721]

Angela Eagle: The friendly settlement reached with Christopher Crossland has no implications for Widows' Benefits.

Fathers who are widowed before Bereavement Benefits are introduced will be able to claim Widowed Parent's Allowance from 9 April 2001 as long as they satisfy the qualifying conditions.

Benefits Agency Reorganisation

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what discussions he has had with trade unions regarding the planned changes to the Benefits Agency leading to the establishment of a working age agency and a pensions agency. [135525]

Angela Eagle: A working age agency joint trade union forum has been established which represents staff from Employment Service, Benefits Agency and other parts of the Department of Social Security and all the constituent unions (Public and Commercial Services, First Division Association and Institute of Professional Managers and Specialists). This joint forum has met twice to date and arrangements have been made for regular monthly meetings with senior management within the working age programme on behalf of my right hon. Friends the

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Secretaries of State for Social Security and for Education and Employment. These monthly meetings will be supplemented by additional meetings with the appropriate programme managers to discuss issues of detail.

Union representatives from this forum are also due to meet with Ministers from this Department and from the Department for Education and Employment on 11 December 2000.

Similar arrangements have been put in place with the DSS Trade Union side to discuss matters relating to the setting up of the pensions organisation.

ONE Pilot

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the ONE pilots. [135526]

Angela Eagle: The ONE service is designed to change the culture of the benefits system by providing an integrated, work-focused service for all people of working age. Pilots commenced in twelve areas of the country in 1999 and are due to run until April 2002.

The ONE pilots are the subject of rigorous evaluation to determine the effectiveness of the new service compared to the present one. They will be evaluated using a range of standard evaluation techniques, and data will be compared from the different model pilots to assess their relative effects.

When robust and reliable research findings are available, they will be published. We expect to be in a position to publish the first findings from the preliminary phase of the pilots by the end of the year.

CSA

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if voluntary payments made by non-custodial parents directly towards their children's maintenance are deducted by the CSA from the calculation of maintenance that it requests from the non-custodial parent. [135827]

Angela Eagle: Many non-resident parents want to, and do, provide financial support for their children while their maintenance liability is being calculated by the Child Support Agency. Voluntary payments of child maintenance paid before liability has been calculated can be offset against that liability. However, voluntary payments are not currently provided for in legislation and the Child Support Agency follows guidelines to determine which payments should be set-off against arrears of maintenance.

The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 gives statutory recognition to voluntary payments made before maintenance has been assessed. In the new child support scheme, payments in cash, either direct to the parent with care or via the Agency, and payments by the non-resident parent of household bills for mortgage repayments, gas/electricity or water bills can be offset as voluntary payments.

Once maintenance liability has been calculated, there is no provision for voluntary payments to be taken into account and maintenance liability can only be discharged if payments are made to a specified person, usually the parent with care, directly, or through the CSA. The

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amount of debt which arises through non-payment of child maintenance will not be offset by any amounts the non-resident parent has paid to the child, such as for pocket money or presents.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the new child support scheme indicates the categories of expenditure covered by the CSA maintenance payment. [135852]

Angela Eagle: Maintenance calculations under the new child support scheme are intended to provide a reasonable level of support for children while leaving non-resident parents with sufficient income to meet their other responsibilities.

The new rates do not reflect an assessment of levels of expenditure in specified categories and it will be for the parent with care to decide how best to spend the money in the interests of her children.

Charter of Fundamental Rights

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the cost to his department of adopting Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; and if he will make a statement. [135570]

Angela Eagle: None. The charter will be a political declaration and is not legally binding. It is addressed to the EU institutions, and to member states only when they are implementing Union law (Article 51(1)). It does not establish any new power or task for the Community or the Union or modify powers and tasks defined by the Treaties (Article 51(2).

Invalid Care Allowance

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to allow carers to keep their invalid care allowance money on receipt of their state pension. [135528]

Mr. Bayley: On 3 October we announced, as part of a package of measures for carers, plans to give people aged 65 and over the right to claim Invalid Care Allowance (ICA) for the first time. This entitlement will be subject to existing rules governing the receipt of ICA, including abatement where state retirement pension is paid.

We estimate 40,000 pensioners will gain access to ICA or the carer premium for the first time as a result of this change.

Vaccine Damage Victims

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the sums due to victims of vaccine damage he will pay to the families concerned; and if he will make a statement. [135996]

Mr. Bayley: In his statement on vaccine damage of 27 June 2000, Official Report, columns 719-27, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that top-up payments would be made in all cases where a vaccine damage award had been made prior to that date. About 900 awards had been made between 1978 and the date of

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the statement. So far 129 top-up payments have been paid amounting to £8,696,500. Another 122 cases are nearing completion. In general cases are being paid in date order, that is to say, those customers who received their original payment the longest time ago will be paid first. The Vaccine Damage Payment Unit has recruited additional staff and arrangements are in place to progress the remaining payments as soon as possible while ensuring the interests of the intended beneficiary are protected.

Benefit Fraud (Local Authorities)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many local authorities have been subject to a review by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate; and in which cases he has used the powers in section 139D of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 to direct a local authority. [136159]

Mr. Rooker: As at 3 November 2000, the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate had completed inspections on 73 local authorities and was in the process of inspecting a further 30 authorities. Directions under section 139D of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 have been given to one local authority, Northampton Borough Council, in August 2000.

Benefits (Sutton)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people in (a) the Sutton and Cheam constituency and (b) the London borough of Sutton have been in receipt of (i) Income Support, (ii) Disability Living Allowance, (iii) Incapacity Benefit, (iv) Unemployment Benefit and (v) Housing Benefit in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [134890]

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

Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. Paul Burstow, dated 6 November 2000:


The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to respond to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many people in (a) the Sutton and Cheam constituency and (b) the London Borough of Sutton have been in receipt of (i) income support, (ii) disability living allowance, (iii) incapacity benefit, (iv) unemployment benefit, and (v) housing benefit in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement.
The data is not available in the requested format, however the information that is available is supplied in the attached tables.
I hope this is helpful.

(i) Income Support

YearSutton and Cheam constituencyLondon borough of Sutton
May
1990--8.1
1991--8.8
1992--8.9
1993--12.7
1994--12.8
1995--12.7
1996--12.3
1997--8.6
1998--8.2
19992.88.0
20003.17.9

Notes:

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

2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred and quoted in thousands.

3. Income Support for the unemployed was replaced by Income Based Jobseekers Allowance in October 1996. Figures up to and including May 1996 included the unemployed on Income Support.

Source:

Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiries, 1990-2000


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(ii) Recipients of Disability Living Allowance

YearSutton and Cheam constituencyLondon borough of Sutton
May
19931,2002,700
19941,4002,600
19951,3002,600
19961,4002,900
19971,4003,300
19981,3293,414
19991,4183,548
20001,5053,707

Notes:

1. Figures up to 1997 are based on 5 per cent. data and are rounded to the nearest hundred. For later years the figures are based on 100 per cent. data and are unrounded.

2. Figures not available for 1992 owing to incomplete regional data.

3. Yearly figures are given at 31 May.

Source:

DSS Information Centre


(iii) Incapacity Benefit

YearSutton and Cheam constituencyLondon borough of Sutton
May
1995--2.6
1996--2.5
1997--2.5
19981.02.3
19991.02.2
20000.92.3

Notes:

1. Incapacity Benefit figures by Parliamentary Constituency are unavailable before 1998.

2. Figures taken from 5 per cent. samples of the benefit computer system, and exclude a small number of cases held clerically. A rating factor has been used on figures for the London borough of Sutton from May 1996 to May 1999, to account for missing postcodes.

3. Figures are expressed as thousands and are rounded to the nearest hundred.

4. Yearly figures are given at 31 May.





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(v) Housing Benefit

YearLondon borough of Sutton
May
19929,470
199310,170
199410,280
199510,610
199610,880
199710,690
19989,980
19999,650
20008,870

Notes:

1. The figures supplied are for May each year from 1992 to May 2000.

2. The figures have been rounded to the nearest ten cases.

3. If the Local Authority failed to return any data, this will have been estimated.

4. The data for the years prior to 1992 are unavailable. The data for the Sutton and Cheam constituency are unavailable as the lowest level that the data are collected for is by Local Authority.

Source:

Housing Benefit Management Information System, Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload inquiries taken in May 1992 to 2000.



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