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Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the issuing of national insurance numbers to asylum seekers who have been given permission to work; and what the average time for issuing of NI numbers has been from the date of application in the last 12 months. 
Malcolm Wicks: Asylum seekers who have been granted permission to work should apply for a National Insurance number if they are working or claiming a
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benefit. A person applying for a National Insurance number will be invited to attend an evidence of identity interview at their local Benefits Agency office and complete the relevant documentation for the allocation of a National Insurance number to be considered.
Information about the overall length of time taken for an application for a National Insurance number to be processed is not held.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of pensioner households paid (a) more than 5 per cent., (b) more than 10 per cent., and (c) more than 15 per cent. of their gross income in council tax in 19992000. 
Mr. McCartney: 41 per cent. of pensioner households in Great Britain paid more than 5 per cent. of their gross income in Council Tax in 19992000, 8 per cent. of pensioner households paid more than 10 per cent., and 2 per cent. paid more than 15 per cent.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications for Incapacity Benefit from residents of (a) Aylesbury and (b) Luton were made, how many applicants were required to take a medical examination, and how many of those medical examinations were undertaken at (i) Luton, (ii) Aylesbury, (iii) Euston and (iv) other in each year since 1997. 
Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the tables.
|January to December 1997||2,128||4,147|
|January to December 1998||1,734||3,697|
|January to December 1999||1,710||3,978|
|January to December 2000||1,561||3,723|
|January to May 2001||709||1,388|
New claims data are from a 100 per cent. count. A new claim may not result in an award of benefit, for example where a claim is withdrawn.
|October to December 1998||186||8||1|
|January to December 1999||710||27||8|
|January to December 2000||597||21||0|
|January to May 2001||307||14||1|
|October to December 1998||5||519||0|
|January to December 1999||27||2,002||1|
|January to December 2000||20||1,432||0|
|January to May 2001||8||683||0|
1. Initial entitlement to Incapacity Benefit requires the claimant to provide medical evidence of their incapacity (normally a general practitioner's certificate). Subsequently, incapacity is assessed under the Personal Capability Assessment but not all claimants are required to attend a medical examination.
2. Figures are from data supplied by Medical Services and include first and subsequent referrals. Information for individual MECs is not available prior to October 1998.
3. Figures relate to Incapacity Benefit claimants living in the area covered by Aylesbury and Luton Benefits Agency offices respectively.
4. Medical Services have no record of any customers in these areas being referred to other MECs.
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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Department's new name is estimated to cost in total, broken down into costs associated with (a) stationery, (b) signs, (c) moving fixtures and fittings, (d) redesigning the website and (e) other costs. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) on 26 June 2001, Official Report, column 77W.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the second stage of the State Second Pension is expected to be introduced. 
Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to page 40, paragraph 8 of the Green Paper "A New Contract for Welfare: Partnership in Pensions" (Cm 4179) in December 1998.
Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate (a) the cost of extending Winter Fuel Payments to households with a disabled person and to householders with children aged under five years and (b) the amount allocated within existing benefits for disabled people towards heating costs. 
Mr. McCartney: Applying current entitlement rules and extending Winter Fuel Payments to households with a disabled person aged under 60 in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and all households with a child under five, would increase the annual cost of Winter Fuel Payment provision by an estimated £780 million.
There is no specific amount for heating costs in the benefits available to disabled people under 60 years of age, but Disability Living Allowance (DLA) provides a contribution towards the extra costs associated with severe disability. The care and mobility needs entitlement criteria for the benefit are used as broad indicators of all the extra
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costs, including the heating costs, of a disabled person. The disability premiums in income-related benefits are paid in recognition that the poorest disabled people need extra help.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the annual cost of abolishing the rules regarding the reduction of state pensions, other contributory benefits and income-related benefits for (a) claimants and (b) pensioners. 
Mr. McCartney: It is not possible to supply costs for abolition of hospital downrating for income-related benefits.
|Benefit||Cost for abolition for 652 weeks downrating||Cost of abolition of over 52 weeks downrating||Total cost of abolition|
|Severe Disablement Allowance||(7)||20||20|
|Cost for pensioners||30||30||60|
(7) Means that the costs are greater than 0 but less than £5 million
1. Costs are given in £ million, rounded to the nearest £10 million
2. It is not possible to give costs for means tested benefits
3. Costs are based on 2000 administrative data
4. Costs are given in current price terms
Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will exempt people on Income Support from charges for non-residential personal care; and if he will estimate the cost of doing so in each of the next five years. 
Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.
On 3 January 2001 we published a consultation paper and draft guidance on fairer charging policies for non- residential social services. The draft guidance proposed that charges should not reduce service users' incomes below "basic levels" of Income Support, as defined in the draft guidance.
The Department's consultation paper noted that, while some users would pay lesser charges or cease to pay charges as a result of the draft guidance, better off users might reasonably be expected to pay higher charges. The experience of the local council operating the good practice example of charging policy described in the consultation paper suggests that there is scope for councils to maintain charge income in this way.
We are currently considering consultation responses and plan to issue final guidance later this summer.
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