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Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 12 June from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms S. B. Mqwayi. [4501]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: Never. The right hon. Member's letter is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and has been transferred accordingly.

Child Poverty

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of children were living in workless households during the spring quarter of 2001, using the Labour Force Survey. [4804]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available. The information taken from the spring quarter of the Labour Force Survey in 2000 was that 15.8 per cent. of children were living in workless households.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in reducing the number of children in the United Kingdom living in poverty; and if he will make a statement. [5713]

Malcolm Wicks: Poverty and social exclusion are multi-faceted problems. Therefore we do not use a single definition of poverty, but instead use a range of indicators to monitor the progress of our strategy. Information relating to the indicators can be found in the second Government "Opportunity for all" report on tackling poverty and social exclusion, "One year on: making a difference" (Cm 4865). The report also describes and monitors the impact of policies we have already introduced and sets out our plans for the future.

Student Loans

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans his Department has to reform the benefits system in order to ensure families are not penalised through the reduction in benefits as a result of one partner applying successfully for a student loan; [4579]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 18 July 2001]: The information is not available.

Student loans and most allowances are taken into account in the assessment of income-related benefit entitlement because primary financial support for students comes from the education maintenance system.

If student loans were not taken into account, the benefit system would be supporting students rather than the educational maintenance system. This would operate unfairly against the majority of students who are not entitled to benefits, as well as being contrary to the whole basis on which the income-related benefits are paid. We have no plans to change the current arrangements.


David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many days on average were lost

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per employee in his Department because of sickness; and how many officials retired early from his Department in each of the past 10 years. [R] [5054]

Mr. McCartney: Information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the tables.

Average days lost per employee due to sickness

YearDSS GroupES Group


1. Machinery of Government changes:

1996 figures do not include the Resettlement Agency;

1999 figures do not include the Contributions Agency.

2. As the Department for Work and Pensions is a new Department, the information is only available under the former categories of the DSS Group and the Education and Employment/Employment Group (DFEE). It is not possible to separate out information for the parts of the employment group which are now the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions.

3. For consistency, the data on sick absence are taken from the reports on the Analyses of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service 1993–99. Data for 2000 are not available at this time.

4. DSS Group comprises: DSS HQ, Resettlement Agency, Information Technology Agency, Contributions Agency, Child Support Agency and War Pensions Directorate.

5. ES Group comprises DfEE, Health and Safety Executive, ACAS and Employment Services.

Numbers of staff retiring early

YearDSS GroupDSS Group(62)Employment ServiceEmployment Service(62)

(62) Ill Health Retirement


1. Table does not include figure for DfEE.

2. Data for staff retiring early for the Department of Education and Employment Services (Employment Group) are not held centrally. Information would need to be sourced from 'Paymaster', formerly the Paymaster General's office. The question cannot be answered due to disproportionate cost.

Departmental Events

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) national and (b) international awareness events his Department and its predecessors have participated in since June 1997 in the form of (i) sponsorship, (ii) departmental attendance, (iii) similar departmental activities and (iv) a message of support. [5040]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I will write to the right hon. Member.

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Housing Benefit

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much housing benefit was paid by each London borough in the last year for which figures are available. [5414]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the table.

Housing Benefit expenditure 1999–2000

London boroughsRent rebateRent allowanceTotal
City of London3,3531,2404,593
Kensington & Chelsea22,84844,82567,673
Tower Hamlets66,33241,616107,948
Waltham Forest27,86347,05074,913
Total London1,134,5551,399,3852,533,940


The data are the latest available and may be subject to change at a later date. All figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.


Rent allowance and non-housing revenue account rent rebate information is from returns submitted to DWP by local authorities.

Housing revenue account rent rebate information is from returns submitted to DTLR by local authorities.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimates he has made of performance of ITNet in the delivery of Housing Benefit to claimants in Islington; and if he will make a statement. [5361]

Malcolm Wicks: The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate's report on the London borough of Islington's administration of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit was published in December last year. The report revealed problems with the quality of Islington's benefit service as provided by its contractor ITNet.

We have received the council's response to the report, which includes a comprehensive action plan to achieve improvements in the service provided to people in

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Islington. We are considering the council's response and what future action is appropriate to monitor the authority's performance.

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the proposed amendment to the Housing Benefit Regulations will be brought into force. [5816]

Malcolm Wicks: The amendment to regulation 7(l)(h) of the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987, which allows benefit to be paid to people who let property they previously owned if five years or more have elapsed since the original sale, came into force on 21 May 2001.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to review the arrangements whereby Housing Benefit is not available to an adult who is paying rent to a blood relative living in the same property. [5561]

Malcolm Wicks: We have no plans to review existing arrangements.

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