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Child Support

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many of the additional staff posts allotted to the Independent Case Examiner in September 2000 have been filled; [154510]

Angela Eagle: The office of the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) has already recruited two extra staff. A further four staff members will be in post by the end of April 2001, and two more in May 2001.

All cases referred to the ICE are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible. Cases are dealt with in the order they are received to ensure that all customers receive a similar service. In exceptional circumstances, such as where a customer's health is being affected by their case, it will be dealt with more urgently.

The current Independent Case Examiner, Mrs. Anne Parker, was appointed on a part-time basis and the intention is that her replacement will also be part-time.

Benefit Payment

Mr. Gorrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will commission research into the practice of commercial operators paying out cash, subject to a substantial charge, for benefit and Housing Benefit cheques; and if he will take action on the findings. [154508]

Angela Eagle: We have no plans to commission research into commercial cheque cashing services.

No benefit recipient should have to pay for benefit cheque encashment. The facility exists for people without a bank account to return crossed girocheques to their local Benefits Agency office and have them replaced by lower value girocheques which can be encashed at a Post Office.

Most high street banks now offer basic accounts which are free to open and run. These are available to the majority of benefit recipients and can be used to clear crossed benefit cheques or Housing Benefit cheques issued by local authorities.

Pensioner Incomes

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how changes in Government spending since 1997 have affected the incomes of (a) poorer pensioners and (b) pensioners with low levels of savings. [154281]

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Mr. Rooker: Information regarding income gains over the Parliament for poorer pensioners is available in "The Pension Credit: A consultation paper" (Cm 4900). As the document sets out, by next April 1.7 million of the poorest pensioner households will on average be at least £15 a week better off and half of the poorest pensioner households will on average be over £20 a week better off as a result of tax and benefit measures introduced by the Government since 1997.

The information requested regarding pensioners with low levels of savings is not available.

Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the level of expenditure on Winter Fuel Payments has been in each year since their introduction; and what the projected level of expenditure is in each year to the end of the public expenditure planning horizon. [155158]

Mr. Rooker: The information for expenditure to date is in the table.

Winter Fuel Payment

1997-98£200 million
1998-99£200 million
1999-2000£900 million
2000-01£1.7 billion

Single Room Rent

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he has consulted the Social Security Committee on his proposed broadening of the definition of the single room rent; [155293]

Angela Eagle: We have fulfilled our statutory obligation to consult the Social Security Advisory Committee and the Local Authority Associations on our proposal to broaden the definition of the Single Room Rent.

The Social Security Advisory Committee was content for our proposal to proceed without the Committee conducting a public consultation exercise. The Local Authority Associations favoured abolition of the Single Room Rent, but they welcomed our proposal as a step in the right direction.

Our proposal is designed to better reflect the accommodation which is available in the market, based on advice from the Rent Service.

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Foot and Mouth

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the meetings and conferences organised by his Department and agencies of his Department which have been (a) cancelled and (b) postponed owing to foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement. [155373]

Mr. Rooker: Information on cancelled and postponed meetings is not held centrally.

Income Support (Torbay)

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the level of Income Support take-up among pensioners in Torbay. [154291]

Mr. Rooker: Estimates cannot be produced below national level.


National Cancer Institute

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what degree of independence the National Cancer Institute will have from cancer charities; [154642]

Mr. Milburn: The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), announced today, is a partnership between all the United Kingdom Health Departments, the Medical Research Council, the Cancer Research Campaign, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Marie Curie Research Institute and the pharmaceutical industry. The greatest benefit for patients is likely to be achieved if all the main funders of cancer research work together to ensure the best use of research resources.

The NCRI will be established from 1 April. It will provide the focus for cancer research conducted across the UK, and provide strategic oversight of that research. It will take the lead in identifying where further research initiatives are indicated and are most likely to lead to progress. It will also co-ordinate research into cancer genetics in the UK.

But the NCRI will not be a single, large "bricks and mortar" facility. It will have a core staff of about six people, and total running costs of about £500,000 a year. All the partners have agreed to contribute. The details have to be worked out, but the Government are prepared to underwrite the costs in the first instance so that the NCRI can make progress without delay.

Government Grants (Central London)

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list each category of grant, and the amount of each grant, paid by his Department to (a) Westminster and (b) Kensington and Chelsea in (i) 1997-98, (ii) 1998-99, (iii) 1999-2000 and (iv) 2000-01; and what the projected figure is for 2001-02. [146310]

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Mr. Denham: The tables provide a list of the grants paid by the Department of Health to the two local authorities Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster city council for the periods required.

The grants are as follows:

AIDS Support Grant

Paid to local authorities to support social care provision for those with severe HIV disease or an AIDS diagnosis.

Asylum-Seekers Accommodation Grant (Adults)

From the 1999-2000 financial year the Special Grant for Asylum Seekers (adults) became the responsibility of the Home Office. The background to these payments was that in 1996, changes in Department of Social Security benefit legislation left some asylum seekers destitute and unable to claim financial support. The then Government introduced Special Grants, administered by the Department of Health, to local authorities towards meeting the cost of providing accommodation for destitute asylum seekers under either the National Assistance Act 1948 or the Children Act 1989. The Special Grant was split between single adults, families and unaccompanied children. Under the conditions of these grants, local authorities have been reimbursed for the direct costs they have incurred in supporting asylum seekers.

Children and Adolescent Mental Health

The CAMHS Mental Health Grant started in 1999-2000. It is envisaged that similar sums to those paid for 1999-2000 and 2000-01, will be available in 2001-02 with an additional amount which has yet to be determined--which will be the local authorities share of the national CAMHS MHG.

Children's Services (Quality Protects)

The Secretary of State launched the Quality Protects Programme for Health in September 1998. Initially providing funding of £375 million over three years, the programme is intended to improve the management and delivery of social services for children. In October 2000, the Secretary of State for Health announced that the programme would be extended from a three to a five year programme, matched by an increase in the Special Grant from £120 million in 2000-01 to £290 million by 2003.

Community Care Special Transitional Grant

This grant was paid to local authorities in England from 1993-99 to enable them to meet their new responsibilities under Part III of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 which was fully implemented in April 1993. Implementation required local authorities to establish arrangements to assess people's needs for community care services. It also placed new duties on social services authorities to purchase independent sector residential and nursing home care for those people who required public support to enter such homes. Social services authorities now assess an individual's needs for services and in the light of that assessment decide whether or what services should be provided.

Drug and Alcohol Specific Grants

The background to the grant is covered in the circular LAC (2000) 19 which was issued at the end of September 2000.

Improving Management Information:

Invest to Save

No information was available within the time available to complete the response to this inquiry.

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Mental Health Grant

This grant is available to local authorities to facilitate the development and improvement of community-based mental health services.

Persons' from Abroad Children's Grant--(Families with Children)

The background is the same as for the adults' grant described above.

Promoting Independence--Carers' Grant

This grant became available from 1999-2000.

Promoting Independence--Partnership Grant

Grant first became available in 1999-2000.

Promoting Independence--Prevention Grant

The purpose of this grant is to help local authorities develop, with other relevant agencies, particularly health authorities, preventive strategies aimed at slowing down or preventing deterioration in individuals, who have been assessed as at risk of losing independence and who are able to benefit from lower level interventions, which will prevent or significantly delay admission to residential or nursing care or to hospital and/or improve quality of life. The assessment process should identify possible problems

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and possible risks that could lead to dependency. This would include risks associated with the home including the danger of falling and accidents resulting therefrom.

The Promoting Independence Grant (£196 million)

This grant subsumes the partnership and prevention grants. The figures provided in the table are indicative and subject to parliamentary approval.

Secure Accommodation--Capital

No information available, no facility in these authorities.

Secure Accommodation--Revenue

No information available.

Training Support Programme

The TSP is paid to local authorities on a 70 per cent. funded grant with authorities contributing 30 per cent. of the total costs. All local authority staff working in and supporting services for adults and for children are eligible for training supported by the TSP. The aim of the TSP is to improve the quality, and management of social services provision to families, individuals and local communities, by encouraging a planned approach to training.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children's Grant

From the financial year 2000-01 the Special Grant for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children became the responsibility of the Home Office.

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Specific and special grants: Westminster

AIDS Support Grant800,000770,000810,000798,000n/k
Asylum-Seekers Accommodation Grant3,846,920(2)5,074,631(3)n/a(3)n/a(3)n/a
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Servicesn/an/a26,00026,000n/k
Children's Services (Quality Protects)n/a32,500755,3731,234,0003,215,578
Children's Social Services Grant----------
Community Care Special Transitional Grant2,304,6522,170,586n/an/an/a
Drugs and Alcohol Specific Grants61,74427,42100n/a
Improving Information Management----------
Invest to Save----------
Mental Health Grant586,048556,901805,663903,6471,006,384
Persons from Abroad Children's Grant2,752,3073,753,040(3)n/a(3)n/a(3)n/a
Promoting Independence: Carers Grantn/an/a137,108383,688(4)553,972
Promoting Independence: Partnership Grantn/an/a1,754,9661,500,289(5)1,979,005
Promoting Independence: Prevention Grantn/an/a146,487222,372n/k
Secure Accommodation (Capital)----------
Secure Accommodation (Revenue)----------
Training Support Programme215,091198,259195,665(6)320,532n/a
Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children441,1791,879,2002,695,400(3)n/a(3)n/a

(1) Projected

(2) After repayment by LA

(3) Home Office

(4) Indicative--subject to parliamentary approval

(5) Includes Prevention Grant

(6) Allocations only

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Specific and special grants: Kensington and Chelsea

AIDS Support Grant890,000760,000722,000816,000n/k
Asylum-Seekers Accommodation Grant2,326,3744,603,767(8)n/a(8)n/a(8)n/a
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Servicesn/an/a20,00020,000n/k
Children's Services (Quality Protects)n/a32,500560,122916,0002,389,814
Children's Social Services Grant----------
Community Care Special Transitional Grant1,509,0051,413,818n/an/an/a
Drugs and Alcohol Specific Grants68,37853,22200n/a
Improving Information Management:----------
Invest to Save----------
Mental Health Grant470,073536,109700,324760,289829,585
Persons from Abroad Children's Grant1,312,2241,549,540(8)n/a(8)n/a(8)n/a
Promoting Independence: Carers Grantn/an/a95,156270,497(9)393,084
Promoting Independence: Partnership Grantn/an/a1,161,9611,002,149(10)1,324,496
Promoting Independence: Prevention Grantn/an/a103,047157,006n/k
Secure Accommodation (Capital)----------
Secure Accommodation (Revenue)----------
Training Support Programme162,939160,877162,056(11)187,160--
Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children255,613646,9241,540,000(8)n/a(8)n/a

(7) Projected

(8) Home Office

(9) Indicative--subject to parliamentary approval

(10) Includes Prevention Grant

(11) Allocations only

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