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Special Advisers

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many special advisers worked in his Department from 1997 to date; [160025]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 1 May 2001]: Since May 1997 no more than two special advisers have been in post at any one time.

For the total cost of employing special advisers I refer the hon. Member to the written answer from my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office, 1 May 2001, Official Report, column 607W.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much will be spent on the Minimum Income Guarantee in each of the financial years between 2000-01 and 2003-04. [160156]

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Mr. Rooker: Expenditure on the Minimum Income Guarantee, in Great Britain, is estimated at £4 billion in 2000-01 rising to £4.5 billion in 2001-02, £4.6 billion in 2002-03 and £4.8 billion in 2003-04.

Occupational Pensions

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 23 April 2001, Official Report, column 152W, on occupational pensions, how many individuals' pensions are required to be paid to at least the value of the guaranteed minimum pension in respect of service between 1978 and 1997 disaggregated by those who are (a) of working age and (b) above working age. [160164]

Mr. Rooker: Information is not available in the format requested. The latest survey of occupational pension schemes produced by the Government Actuary's Department does, however, indicate that in 1995 there were around 8.3 million active members of those schemes that are required to pay pensions at least to the value of the Guaranteed Minimum Pension.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the Government will publish the reports from the Pension Provision Group on pension provision for the self-employed and the impact on pensions of changes in the labour market. [160223]

Mr. Rooker: The Pension Provision Group are currently reviewing both reports in the light of the Government's Pension Credit proposals. It is anticipated that both reports will be ready for publication later in the year.

Lone Parents

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many lone parents on Income Support have a youngest child aged (a) between five and eight, (b) between nine and 12 and (c) between 13 and 15 years; [160236]

Mr. Bayley: The full national New Deal for Lone Parents programme has been in operation since October 1998, after being piloted from July 1997. By the end of February 2001, 86,161 lone parents have obtained jobs through the programme and a further 24,104 have entered

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education and training. From April 2001 further support is being provided for lone parents taking up training or part-time jobs, including help with child care costs.

To ensure that as many lone parents as possible are aware of the help and support available to help them move into work, compulsory personal adviser meetings have been introduced from 30 April for lone parents claiming Income Support whose youngest child is of school age. Personal adviser meetings will be extended to lone parents with a youngest child of below five years old in some areas from October 2001 and then nationally from April 2002.

Personal adviser meetings are a condition of claiming Income Support. If a lone parent fails, without good cause, to participate in a personal adviser meeting when making a claim to Income Support, then the claim will not be processed. If a lone parent making a claim has received payment of Income Support because the meeting was deferred, but then fails to participate without good cause, Income Support will be withdrawn. If a lone parent is already receiving Income Support and fails without good cause to participate in the meeting, their Income Support will be reduced by 20 per cent. of the amount applicable for a single person aged not less than 25 years old. We do not expect to have to apply these sanctions very often. Personal Advisers will make several attempts to ensure that lone parents fully understand how important these meetings are before taking any action that will affect benefits.

Personal advisers are an essential element of the New Deal for Lone Parents service. Figures are not kept in the format requested but, since the national launch of the New Deal for Lone Parents, resources have been allocated for around 800 full-time staff. To support the delivery of personal adviser meetings, resources will be allocated for a further 450 staff by the end of 2001-02.

Personal Adviser meetings will be gradually rolled out to lone parents currently claiming Income Support over the next few years. The latest Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry (November 2000) estimates that there are 77,800 lone parents with a youngest child of 13 to 15 years old claiming Income Support. There are a further 150,500 lone parents claiming Income Support with a youngest child of nine to 12 years old and 214,100 with a youngest child of five to eight years old 1 .

Since May 1997 the number of lone parents dependent on Income Support has fallen by over 100,000. The choices we are offering lone parents are building on this success and helping more of them move from benefit dependence into work.

Football Championships (Benefit Loss)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many of the cases of people travelling to the Euro 2000 Football Championships investigated by the Benefits Agency have led to loss of benefits. [160238]

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Mr. Rooker: Fifty-two cases were investigated by the Benefit Fraud Investigation Service following referrals from the Belgian Authorities. As a result of these investigations, four claims have been withdrawn and two overpayments identified.


Legal Aid

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much of the allocated civil aid budget for personal injury cases has been spent on expanding the legal advice and representation budget for other areas of civil legal aid since the coming into force of the Access to Justice Act 1999. [R] [157436]

Mr. Lock [holding answer 10 April 2001]: Under the Legal Aid Act 1988 and the Access to Justice Act 1999, expenditure is essentially demand led. With the exception of the new, controlled budget for general civil legal help, funds are not specifically allocated to particular areas of law. However, it has been possible to increase the amount available for advice and assistance since implementation of the Access to Justice Act; in 2000-01 the amount spent on civil advice and assistance (now legal help) totalled £233 million, an increase of £28 million on the previous year. This increase would not have been possible if most personal injury cases remained within the scope of public funding.

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much civil legal aid was allocated for personal injury cases in (a) 1997-98 and (b) 1998-99. [R] [157435]

Mr. Lock [holding answer 10 April 2001]: No funds from the civil legal aid budget were specifically allocated for personal injury cases. However, in terms of expenditure, the latest year for which information is available is 1997-98 (changes to the Legal Services Commission's computer systems mean that information is not yet available for 1998-99 onwards). In that year, the cost of these cases was £307.7 million (gross) of which £242.1 million was recovered by way of contributions received or costs and damages received on behalf of the assisted persons. In addition it is estimated that the cost to the Legal Services Commission of administering these cases was £2.9 million.

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much was spent on (a) criminal and (b) civil legal aid in (i) 1998-99, (ii) 1999-2000 and (iii) 2000-01; and what the projected figure is for 2001-02. [R] [157429]

Mr. Lock [holding answer 10 April 2001]: Gross expenditure, together with the total amounts recovered by way of contributions from assisted persons and from costs

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and damages received, were, or are expected to be, as set out in the table:

£ million

Gross Recovered

(21) Estimated

(22) Forecast

These figures differ from the amounts voted by Parliament which are net of amounts recovered.

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