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Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will mark next year's International Year of Volunteers by spending a day working as a volunteer. [137437]

Mr. Darling: The Department supports the aims of the International Year of Volunteers and is currently working jointly with other Government Departments on ways in which employee volunteering can be implemented.

I can confirm that it is my intention to volunteer during 2001.

Pensions Expenditure

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the percentage of national income accounted for by expenditure on National Insurance retirement pensions in each year from 1996-97 to 2001-02, taking account of the measures contained in Cm 4917; and if he will provide those estimates to two decimal places. [138231]

Mr. Rooker: The information is in the table which, for completeness, also shows expenditure on other benefits paid to pensioners. All figures are rounded to two decimal places; for this reason they may not appear to sum to the total, which is also correct to two decimal places.

Expenditure as a percentage of GDP(38)
(a) Retirement Pensions(39)
(b) Winter Fuel Payments0.
(c) Means-tested benefits for pensioners(40)
(d) Other benefits paid to pensioners(41)
(e) Concessionary TV Licences0.

(38) The information is based on expenditure figures consistent with the Pre-Budget Report, and is compared with the latest GDP figures published by National Statistics on 27 September 2000

(39) Includes Retirement Pension basic and earnings-related components

(40) Includes Income Support/Minimum Income Guarantee, Social Fund payments, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit paid to people aged 60 and over

(41) Includes non-contributory Retirement Pension and Christmas Bonus (contributory and non-contributory)

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Income-related Benefits

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects to publish his Department's next estimate of the take-up of income- related benefits. [136549]

Mr. Bayley: The next annual statistics on the take-up of income related benefits will be published on 8 December 2000. These will cover the financial year 1998-99, the latest period for which data are available. They will therefore predate the introduction of the Minimum Income Guarantee and Working Families Tax Credit.

Benefit Payment Methods

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the total savings from paying benefits and pensions directly into bank accounts instead of by cash payments at post offices. [136709]

Mr. Rooker: The move to automated credit transfer as the normal method of payment will provide a more modern, secure and efficient payment method and will bring significant savings anticipated to be in the region of £600 million per year. The move will begin in 2003, but full savings will not be realised until the system is phased in, when the transition from current paper-based methods of payment is complete.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many recipients there are of the (a) mobility component and (b) care component of Disability Living Allowance, broken down by levels of benefit, at the most recent date for which figures are available, and in each of the three preceding years. [138220]

Mr. Bayley: The information requested is given in the table.

Recipients of Disability Living Allowance by component

Care component
Higher rate359,400381,900391,900414,500
Middle rate530,100564,500590,200621,600
Lower rate390,600439,500477,200506,600
Mobility component
Higher rate1,293,3001,336,4001,352,3001,375,100
Lower rate365,000407,200437,700468,400

(42) Figures relate to the number of recipients at 31 May each year


DSS Information Centre: 5 per cent. data

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Benefit Fraud Inspectorate

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans his Department has to change the number of staff working at the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate. [135259]

Angela Eagle: The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI) has streamlined corporate support activities in line with the Department's drive to centralise support functions and focus resources on achieving results. Following these changes, there will be 112 staff working at the BFI, who will complete the programme of inspection activity as planned.

Mileage Allowance (Medical Examinations)

Mr. Donald Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects to complete the review of the decision to reduce the mileage allowance for attending medical examinations. [135939]

Mr. Bayley: The review of mileage allowances is not yet complete. Recommendations to Ministers on this subject will need to take account of the implications of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's announcement of the intention to create a new Working Age Agency, combining the Benefits Agency's responsibilities for working age people with the Employment Service.

National Insurance

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the impact on the level of the National Insurance Fund and on the rates of contributions in each year from 2001-02 to 2005-06 inclusive, of increasing the Basic Pension in each year by the percentage increase in the general level of earnings. [136051]

Mr. Rooker: This information is contained in the "Report by the Government Actuary on the Cost of Uprating the Basic Retirement Pension in line with the General Level of Earnings" Cm4920, which was laid

13 Nov 2000 : Column: 527W

before Parliament on 9 November 2000. Copies of the Report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and the Report is available on the Internet at

Respite Care (Allowances)

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the basis for payment of allowances by his Department to a person receiving respite in (a) a private and (b) a local authority residential home. [136793]

Mr. Bayley: Entitlement to the income-related benefits for people in care homes depends on whether the person is admitted to a private or local authority home. The difference reflects the funding responsibilities between central and local government for the different types of home. Entitlement may also reflect any need for continuing payment of housing costs in respect of the person's own home during the period of respite care.

Where respite care is publicly funded, Attendance Allowance and the care component of Disability Living Allowance are not payable, to avoid duplication of provision, but no adjustment is generally made for the first 28 days. Where people pay for their own care these benefits are paid as normal.

Most other benefits are not affected by admission to care homes; though a person may have to pay the home for their respite care if privately arranged, or the local authority if that authority has arranged and funded the care.

Housing Benefit

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he is taking to equalise the arrangements for paying Housing Benefit to council tenants with those for other tenants. [136812]

Angela Eagle: Council tenants are paid by rent rebate. This means their Housing Benefit is credited against their rent account held by the council. Those in the private sector are paid by rent allowance. Payment is made by various means, either to the tenant or, in prescribed circumstances, direct to the landlord. The question of how Housing Benefit is paid was visited in the Housing Green Paper. We are currently studying the consultation responses carefully and will take decisions on how to proceed in the light of them. We expect to announce our decisions in due course.

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