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Travel Grants (Australia)

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many travel grants have been made to fund visits to Britain by former child migrants to Australia; [157236]

Mr. Hutton: As at 31 March 2001, 126 former child migrants have travelled from Australia with assistance from the Government funded Child Migrant Support Fund. The total cost of their travel/subsistence was £214,000.

Fourth Transplant Unit

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list those (a) hon. Members and (b) others who have made representations to his Department seeking a delay in the announcement of the fourth transplant unit to remain in operation after 1 April 2002. [156683]

Mr. Denham: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received no representations from anyone seeking to delay the announcement of the site of the fourth national cardiothoracic transplant centre.

Tuberculosis

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of TB were reported in the UK in (a) 1999 and (b) 2000. [157871]

Yvette Cooper: The number of reported cases for all types of tuberculosis in the United Kingdom for 1999 was 6,701 and 7,264 (provisional) for 2000.

This information is publicly available. Information for England and Wales is published on the PHLS website (www.phls.org.uk), Scotland publish their data in the Scottish Health Statistics booklet and Northern Ireland publish their data via their Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of drug resistant TB were reported in the UK in (a) 1999 and (b) 2000. [157870]

Yvette Cooper: The 1998 Public Health Laboratory Service tuberculosis survey found that there has been no increase in the proportion of strains of TB resistant to one or more of the standard anti-TB drugs since 1994. The United Kingdom has heightened its surveillance of drug and multi-drug resistant TB through a scheme co-ordinated by the PHLS, through the UK Mycobacterial Resistance Network or MYCOBNET.

Information taken from MYCOBNET shows that 33 cases of drug resistant tuberculosis (ie resistant to standard antibiotic drugs) were reported in the UK in 1999 and 36 (provisional figure) in 2000. These figures show a slight decrease in the number from previous years, which have averaged at 49 cases per year since 1994.

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Bed Blocking and Surgery Cancellations

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of closures within the private nursing home and residential care sector on bed blocking and cancellation of elective surgery in National Health Service hospitals. [156311]

Mr. Hutton: We are providing new intermediate care services, which will enable patients to move on from hospital with minimal delay and we provided last year, an extra 523 adult critical care beds to expand post operative capacity. The Department is working to develop a new concordat with the care home sector to maintain capacity and stability in the sector. These initiatives mean that delays in hospital discharge are beginning to reduce.

Correspondence

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when he will reply to the letter sent to him on 18 December by the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire, reference Part 3 5120/99; [149116]

Yvette Cooper: I apologise for the delay in replying to my hon. Friend's correspondence and subsequent parliamentary questions. The reasons are that a number of sensitive issues have been raised which require thorough investigation to ensure a full explanation can be given. I have met my hon. Friend to discuss these issues further.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will give a substantive answer to the question tabled on 28 March by the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood on isolation wards for tuberculosis in NHS hospitals. [157958]

Yvette Cooper: I replied to the hon. Member's question, tabled for answer on 2 April, on 6 April.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Single Room Rent

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, (1) pursuant to his answer on 23 March 2001, Official Report, column 370W, what consideration was given to providing additional exemptions from the proposed new Younger Person's Rent regulations for (a) young pregnant women, (b) young people in receipt of the disability working allowance and incapacity benefit, (c) young people considered vulnerable under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, (d) care leavers under the age of 25 years and (e) young people rehoused through resettlement programmes operated by the Rough Sleepers Unit and others; [156723]

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Angela Eagle: The existing exemptions from the single room rent will remain in force when the broader definition of the single room rent is implemented from July this year. We have no current plans to increase the number of exemptions. However, local authorities will have the discretion to provide additional support in individual cases where there is a shortfall in rent under the new arrangements for discretionary housing payments, which will also be implemented from July. The broader definition of the single room rent retains the use of a kitchen, but only where it is shared.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many (a) young people have ceased to claim housing benefit for private sector accommodation since the introduction of the single room rent and (b) more young people are likely to claim housing benefit for private sector accommodation under the proposed new Younger Person's Rent regulations; [156708]

Angela Eagle: It is not possible to quantify accurately the numbers of people who move on or off Housing Benefit solely because of changes to the benefit rules. There are many other factors including employment conditions which will influence whether a person claims benefit.

However, our approximate estimate is that about 25,000 fewer people are receiving Housing Benefit than if the single room rent had not been introduced. This represents an estimated reduction in Housing Benefit expenditure of £65 million a year.

Around 5,000 young people are expected to flow back on to Housing Benefit each year following the introduction of the broader definition of the single room rent in July this year. The estimated additional cost in 2001-02 is £20 million.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 23 March 2001, Official Report, column 370W, what assessment has been made of (a) the likely impact of the proposed younger person's rent regulations in areas where there is a shortage of shared accommodation available to young people, (b) the number of additional units of accommodation that may become available in England as a result of the proposed younger person's rent regulations and (c) the likely impact of the proposed new younger person's rent regulations on shortfalls faced by young people between rent due and Housing Benefit paid. [156721]

Angela Eagle: Our objectives for the single room rent are to ensure that young people have access to accommodation so that they can concentrate on finding work, balanced against our aim of making sure that the benefit system does not provide out of work young adults with better housing than their working peers could afford.

We made these objectives clear in our Housing Green Paper, "Quality and Choice: A decent home for all" on which we consulted widely in order to assess the potential impact of our proposals. We received representations

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from a number of different organisations concerning the operation of the single room rent rules and these were taken into consideration. The new rules from July this year are designed to better reflect what the market generally has to offer on a national basis.

Local authorities will have the discretion to provide additional support in individual cases where there is a shortfall in rent under the new arrangements for discretionary housing payments, which will also be implemented from July.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what assessment he has made of (a) changes in the behaviour of young people following the introduction of the single room rent; and (b) the likely impact of the proposed new younger person's rent on the behaviour of young people; and what plans he has to monitor the behaviour of young people under the proposed new younger person's rent. [156709]

Angela Eagle: In 1997, together with the Department of the Environment Transport and Regions (DETR) we commissioned the London Research Centre to explore the role of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector. The report entitled "Housing Benefit and the Private Rented Sector" was published by DETR in 1999.

The report concluded that the single room rent restriction was causing difficulties for some young people under 25 in accessing and retaining accommodation. Our broadening of the definition of the single room rent from July this year will better reflect what the market has to offer. This is designed to ease the problem faced by young people in obtaining accommodation, so that they can concentrate their efforts on finding work.

We are currently considering the possibility of research examining the impact of broadening the single room rent and will reach a decision in due course.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 23 March 2001, Official Report, column 370W, on single room rent, how many exceptional hardship payments have been awarded to young people subject to the single room rent in each of the last three years. [156710]

Angela Eagle: The information requested is not available.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 23 March 2001, Official Report, column 370W, what assessment has been made of (a) the number of young people who will be unable to find accommodation matching the definition in the proposed new Younger Person's Rent regulations, and (b) the number of young people who will be forced to move away from their local authority area to find accommodation matching the definition in the proposed new Younger Person's Rent regulations. [156722]

Angela Eagle: The information required to make such assessments is not available. The Rent Service has confirmed that, in general, the market is active in

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providing shared accommodation to young people within the broader definition of the single room rent we are introducing from July this year. We do not hold information about an individual's accommodation unless they make a claim to benefit. This information would not identify whether an individual had previously been seeking accommodation in their own or other localities.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, (1) pursuant to his answer of 23 March 2001, Official Report, column 370W, what consideration was given to consulting more widely than the local authority associations on the proposed new Younger Person's Rent regulations; [156715]

Angela Eagle: In order to implement these changes as early and simply as possible, we have decided to retain the term "Single Room Rent". This will avoid, among other things, costly changes to computer software for local authorities and rent officers. Our objectives for the single room rent are to ensure that young people have access to accommodation so that they can concentrate on finding work, balanced against our aim of making sure that the benefit system does not provide out of work young adults with better housing than their working peers could afford. We made these objectives clear, including the option of broadening the definition of the single room rent, in our Housing Green Paper "Quality and Choice: A decent home for all" on which we consulted widely. Our response to the consultation said that we will proceed with broadening the definition so as to enable young people to access and maintain accommodation and to encourage landlords to rent to young people.

In addition to consulting the Local Authority Associations the draft legislation was seen by the Social Security Advisory Committee. I will arrange for a copy of the relevant correspondence to the Committee to be placed in the Library. The Committee did not request the formal referral of the regulations.

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The Committee may report on proposals for regulations to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State following public consultation exercises, but it is otherwise not under any duty to routinely inform my right hon. Friend of representations it may receive from time to time. In response to inquiries, officials have been informed that the Committee received one representation, from Shelter.

In developing the proposal to broaden the definition of the single room rent we did not seek comprehensive written advice, but we had detailed discussions with officials from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales, as well as the Rent Service and rent officers from Scotland and Wales. The new definition takes account of these discussions and is based on a sample analysis of rental data which shows that most young people tend to share accommodation. Comments on the draft legislation were sought from these interested parties. We have received further recent representations on our proposal from Barnardos, the Association of Housing Advisory services and the National Private Landlord and Tenant Working Group.


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