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Housing Benefit

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on an individual's eligibility for housing benefit when his residence is re-classified from residential or nursing home to a supported tenancy. [8496]

Malcolm Wicks: In these circumstances individuals are eligible for help with their rent through Housing Benefit.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to standardise the housing benefit application form in local authorities. [8202]

Malcolm Wicks: Earlier this year we introduced a model claim form which local authorities can choose to use. The form is designed to collect all information necessary to process housing benefit claims securely in line with the Verification Framework. We encourage all local authorities to use the form.


New Deal

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many participants in the new deal have received (a) training and (b) work experience in the armed forces, including taster days, in each year since 1998. [7986]

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Mr. Ingram: The armed forces do not participate in the new deal scheme directly because of the longer term commitment that recruits are expected to undertake. Nevertheless, in the light of a partnership that my Department has with the Department for Education and Skills Employment Service (ES), there is close liaison between ES jobcentres and the armed forces careers offices. Recruiting staff visit ES jobcentres on a regular basis to promote armed forces careers, and also remind jobcentre staff of the various work experience schemes available in the area for young people up to age 24 years, regardless of their employment status.

The Services offer work experience, Personal Development Courses (PDCs), Look at Life (LAL) Courses, Army Preparation Courses (APCs), and visits to HM Ships and Establishments. The majority of those who attend are still at school or college.

A record of the total number of participants per year is not held centrally. Available details are as follows:

Naval Service

(a) PDCs: Since April 1999, 89 courses have been provided for 595 students.

(b) Work Experience Participants: Since 1998 some 800 work experience placements have been made available each year.

(c) HM Ship Visits

Officer candidatesSchoolchildren


The figures are estimated as until recently details of numbers attending were not co-ordinated centrally:

LALs and PDCs: Number of participants per year = 1,500.


(a) Taster Days:

'Opportunity for All Days'


Home Defences

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review the United Kingdom's home defences. [8123]

Mr. Ingram: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence informed Parliament on 4 October 2001, Official Report, columns 809–10, that we will be conducting work designed to ensure that our concepts, force structures and capabilities are exactly those that we need in order to meet the challenge of the kind of asymmetric threat that we saw on 11 September. This work will look both at the defence of the UK and our capability to counter and deter terrorism abroad.

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Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the reserves will play in providing cover for full-time posts. [8424]

Dr. Moonie: Reservists are employed across the full range of duties with all the services, and play an important role in undertaking support tasks, helping alleviate shortfalls in regular manpower and bringing units up to operational manning levels. At present, there are almost 1,700 personnel on full-time reserve service. There are also over 500 reservists called out into permanent service under the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to support military operations. We expect to continue making use of the reserves in these ways.

Armed Forces (Insurance)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department will reopen its life and personal accident insurance scheme to soldiers in the UK armed forces; which private insurance companies his Department has selected to cover service men and women liable to be involved in the war in Afghanistan who are not covered by PAX+ (Personal Accident and Combined Services); whether this scheme will be similar to the existing PAX+ coverage; if his Department will ensure that every soldier's coverage will be full and continuous; and if he will make a statement. [8418]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has in place a comprehensive package of compensation schemes for injury or death resulting from service in the armed forces. The MOD's Armed Forces Pension Scheme and the War Pensions Scheme are absolutely unaffected by any commercial considerations. These schemes provide full and continuous cover for all personnel. For those who want additional cover Ministry of Defence facilitates the services of commercial insurers.

As a responsible employer, MOD encourages its personnel to take out the level of cover that individuals deem necessary. However, policies are commercial undertakings between individuals and insurers. The MOD neither carries any of the risk, nor gains from any of the premium. All such schemes differ, and it is for each individual to decide what benefits, restrictions and costs are deemed appropriate.

Since 1989 the MOD has facilitated a commercial personal accident policy (known as 'PAX') deemed most appropriate to armed forces personnel. On 31 August 2001, 60,035 armed forces personnel (over 25 per cent.) had a PAX policy, and just under half of these took optional life cover. On 9 October the scheme's underwriters—AIG Europe (UK)—implemented an exclusion period for new applicants from 21 September. Existing holders are unaffected; they can carry out their duties knowing that their policy remains in force wherever they are in the world, on or off duty.

A PAX exclusion period was last imposed during the Gulf War and a special scheme was introduced for personnel who had not bought PAX but wished to buy insurance. AIG Europe are working now to introduce a replacement for PAX, but I am unable to say how long it will take them to achieve this. This is a commercial matter for them.

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Since 11 September, some insurance companies have put geographical exclusions on new policies for armed forces personnel (mainly for those deploying to Oman and associated area); others have increased rates. As a result, some service personnel have found themselves without the cover they desired.

However, at present there are insurers still offering worldwide personal accident and life assurance schemes, although obviously they are keeping rates and terms under close review, and the situation could change. Currently such schemes are available, for example, from NAAFI Financial—through their website and 20 centres located in service garrison areas—and from Scottish Widows through the "Forces Safeguard" Policy. While MOD does not select, endorse or recommend individual companies or products without a full 'benchmarking' process, the MOD is both currently advising members of the armed forces of known personal accident and life assurance options and also facilitating the completion of application forms, especially for those deployed.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many members of the armed forces in (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force have joined the armed forces life insurance scheme; what percentage of each service this represents; and if he will make a statement; [8206]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence facilitates an insurance scheme (PAX), which provides both personal accident and life cover for armed forces personnel. Optional life assurance cover is only available to those who first take out PAX personal accident cover.

The table gives details, as at 31 August 2001, of the number of Service personnel who were scheme members and also those policy holders who had elected to take out additional life cover.

Navy ArmyRAF
Number of personnel covered by PAX (personal accident cover)4,95250,1064,977
Percentage of total trained strength135010
Number of personnel who have additional life insurance cover2,72317,5673,419
Percentage of total trained strength7187

Of course, many armed forces personnel have cover with other commercial providers more suited to individual circumstances, but we have no means of knowing details of these personal financial arrangements.

Figures on the number of personnel joining PAX since 11 September are not yet available centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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