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26 Oct 2001 : Column: 441W
|31 March 1984||30||27|
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|2 April 1988||51||59|
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(5) From 2 October 1988 the national insurance contribution test for Sickness Benefit had to be satisfied in the last two relevant tax years before the claim instead of the last one.
(6) Incapacity Benefit replaced Sickness Benefit and Invalidity Benefit on 13 April 1995.
All figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.
Figures are taken from a 1 per cent. sample of claims to Sickness Benefit up to and including 1995. After this date figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample of the Incapacity Benefit computer system and will exclude a small number of clerically held cases.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if an Incapacity Benefit claimant taking part in the New Deal for Disabled People in a pilot area for the Social Security (Jobcentre Plus Interviews) Regulation 2001 will (a) see the same personal adviser and (b) attend the same venue, for a work focused interview. 
Malcolm Wicks: People already claiming Incapacity Benefit in a Jobcentre Plus or work focused interview area are unaffected by the regulations. The only people to be affected are those making new or repeat claims. In these cases, people eligible for the New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) will normally be given information about NDDP and details of local Job Brokers at their work focused interview. If they wish to take part in NDDP further support will be provided by their chosen Job Broker.
Malcolm Wicks: From Monday 22 October Jobcentre Plus interviews are a condition of benefit entitlement for all people making new or repeat claims to Incapacity Benefit in Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices. The Jobcentre Plus interview regulations provide for the waiver or deferment of the interviews in certain circumstances. Information on the circumstances in which a waiver or deferral may be appropriate is set out clearly in the Jobcentre Plus guidance, a copy of which is in the Library.
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their frequency of payment once automated credit transfer becomes compulsory; and which payment options will be offered. 
Malcolm Wicks: From 2003, customers will be able to receive payments on a weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly, thirteen-weekly or yearly basis. The precise frequency will depend on the payment rules which apply to the particular benefit they are receiving.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many benefit recipients who did not receive their benefit via automated credit transfer when their current claim began have voluntarily opted to be paid this way in the last year for which records are available, broken down into recipients of each benefit. 
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received concerning the former employees of Independent Insurance; what assessment he has made of the employment rights of insurance company employees in the light of the collapse of Independent Insurance; and if he will make a statement. 
I have received a number of representations about redundancy payments for former employees of Independent Insurance. The Department's Redundancy Payments Service has agreed to make redundancy payments under the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996, to the former employees and nearly all these payments have been made. Employees of insurance companies have the same rights as other employees under the 1996 Act.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to use money paid to the Exchequer from the Scottish Transport Group pension fund to make payments to Scottish Transport Group pensioners; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 18 July 2001]: While there is no legal entitlement for Scottish Transport Group pension scheme members to share in the pension surplus at wind up, Scottish Executive Ministers, following agreement with Treasury Ministers, will make ex gratia payments to eligible pension scheme members when the scheme is would up of around £100 million.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what way the circumstances of the National Bus Group pension fund differ from those of the Scottish Transport Group pension fund as far as taxation of the surpluses thereof is concerned. 
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Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 23 October 2001]: A surplus from a pension fund scheme can carry a tax liability. A tax charge is provided for under section 601 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988. It applies to all payments to an employer from the funds of an exempt approved pension scheme, as the Scottish Transport Group schemes are and the National Bus Company schemes were.
The tax payable on payments to pensioners will depend on the nature of the payment and the personal tax circumstances of the individual. Payments to Scottish Transport Group pensioners have not yet been finalised by the Scottish Executive.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact which the climate change levy has had on employment in the manufacturing sector since its introduction. 
Mr. Boateng: The climate change levy only became operational in April this year and the first payments are still being received by Customs and Excise. While it is too early for a full assessment, the levy is operating in the planned revenue neutral manner.
Mr. Boateng: The implementation of Customs' new IT infrastructure is proceeding to plan. By the end of October 2001, 16,000 personnel computers and laptops will have been installed in over 200 offices nationwide, accessible to more than 80 per cent. of Customs' staff.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of telephone calls to designated inquiry points in HM Customs and Excise were answered within 20 seconds in (a) 200001 and (b) 200102 to the most recent date for which information is available. 
From 2 April 2001, Customs' new National Advice Service (a "virtual" call-centre linking six sites with a single inquiries number) has been in place to improve the speed and quality of responses to inquiries. By the half year point 60 per cent. of calls were answered within 20 seconds; and by the end of the financial year the Department expects to be answering 80 per cent. within that time.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in respect of (a) the financial year 200001 and (b) 200102 to the most recent date for which information is available, how many Customs officers have (i) been recruited by HM Customs and Excise, (ii) retired from HM Customs and Excise and (c) left HM Customs and Excise for reasons other than retirement. 
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Mr. Boateng: There are no separate recruitment, retirement and resignation figures for staff employed on customs work. Staff for all areas of work in the Department are recruited through common recruitment arrangements.
Mr. Boateng [holding answer 23 October 2001]: There are no current plans to deploy additional staff in these locations. Staff deployments are kept constantly under review by the Commissioners of HM Customs and Excise and are based on risk and results.
Mr. Boateng: Customs and Excise Law Enforcement comprises a Detection function of over 3,000 officers, an Investigation function of just under 2,000 officers and an Intelligence function of more than 1,000 officers. These officers are located at ports, airports, inland locations and in flexible national teams which can be deployed to any location. In addition there are just over 1,500 officers employed on the control of imported/exported goods covering all major ports and airports. Customs constantly review resource deployment in the light of risk and results. It is not Customs policy to identify actual staffing resources at individual locations as this may assist criminals in identifying Customs' operational methods and would enable them to bypass Customs' controls.
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