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Benefit Take-up (Wycombe)

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) men and (b) women in each ethnic group living in the Wycombe constituency were in receipt of income-related benefits in each of the last four years. [14876]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available.

Income Support

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has to review the arrangements for the level of deductions from income support based upon an individual's capital limit; [16127]

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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 November 2001]: It would make no sense to carry out research into the relationship between interest rates and the level of tariff income deducted. This is because a tariff is deducted from income support on a sliding scale for capital held between the lower and upper capital limits. Capital is treated in this way so that people with capital in excess of the lower limit make a reasonable weekly contribution from those resources to help meet their normal living expenses before having recourse to public funds. It is not intended to represent any return that could be obtained from investing capital and is not based on the current bank interest rate.

ONE Pilot

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the benefits included on the integrated claim form piloted in the ONE-callcentre pilots. [17999]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The benefits included on the integrated claim form which is used in the ONE-callcentre pilots are income support, jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Departmental Bodies and Reviews

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the date of establishment was for all (a) taskforces and (b) policy reviews with external members established by his Department since January 2000; which of them have issued their final reports and what the dates of publication were; which of them have been terminated and what the dates of termination were; and for those bodies still in existence, what their expected (i) reporting and (ii) termination dates are; [18157]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 23 November 2001]: Departmental Ministers and officials consider many policy questions and issues on a routine and on-going basis and frequently seek the views of people external to the Department on a more or less informal basis. The following taskforces, ad hoc advisory and policy review groups with external members, have been established since January 2000 with formalised terms of reference:

Older People—Media Images Working Group was established in August 2000 and terminated in March 2001 with no report being published.

Partnership Against Poverty and the Scottish Partnership Against Poverty were established in March 2001 and November 2001 respectively. The groups are

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on-going with no planned formal reports or end dates. The Partnership Against Poverty group has formed a Black and Ethnic Minority Elder sub-group.

Jobcentre Plus Employers Forum and Jobcentre Plus Stakeholders Forum were both established in May 2001. Both are consultative groups and have been involved in discussions about the development of Jobcentre Plus. The Jobcentre Plus Stakeholders Forum has formed two sub groups, the services sub-group and the training sub-group which are looking at specific issues and will report to the main forum. None of the groups have a time-bound existence, although both the Employer Forum and Stakeholder Forum are under review, and the Stakeholder Forum sub-groups are likely to complete their work by April 2002.

The National Employment Panel was launched in October 2001 as the successor to the New Deal Task Force. The National Employment Panel is an employer- led body which provides independent advice to Ministers on the design, delivery and performance of the UK Government's labour market services. The panel reports on a regular basis to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The panel has established the following sub-groups: the Performance Committee; the Minority Ethnic Advisory Group; the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Board; and a Skills sub-group which will report to the Under-Secretary of State for Adult Skills, my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (John Healey). The panel does not have a time-bound existence.

The Private Pensions Simplification Review was announced on the 26 September 2001 and is expected to report in July 2002.

The Minimum Funding Requirement Consultation Panel was announced on 18 September 2001. There are currently no plans for the panel to produce a report. It will continue to meet while legislation for the replacement for the MFR is being developed. The termination date for the panel depends on when a Bill is secured and legislation is in place, so it is not possible to give a precise termination date as this is subject to the parliamentary timetable.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions since 1997 the Parliamentary Ombudsman has written to him asking for redress on the grounds of equity to be made to clients of his Department resulting from a finding of maladministration leading to injustice; and how many people have received compensation in each case. [19505]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 11 December 2001]: I am aware of five such instances since May 1997.

Information concerning any people who may have received compensation in those cases is not generally available.

Specific records have, however, been retained of payments made further to the Ombudsman's report to Parliament on 26 February 2001 (State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) Inheritance Provisions: Redress of Maladministration HC271). To date, 101 people have received financial redress as a consequence of that investigation.

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Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what is (a) take-up of winter fuel payments by males over 60 years not in receipt of a retirement pension and (b) the average delay between claims and payment for such persons. [20798]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 6 December 2001]: For winter 2000–01, we estimate about three in every four men aged 60 and over but not in receipt of retirement pension received a winter fuel payment. This figure includes men paid automatically because they receive a social security benefit other than retirement pension and those who needed to claim.

It is not possible to provide a meaningful figure for the average time between a person claiming and receiving a payment.

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on take-up of stakeholder pensions among the target group. [20998]

Mr. McCartney: As set out in our 1998 Green Paper "Partnership in Pensions" the Government's long-term pension reforms are designed to ensure that all pensioners have a decent income in retirement, building on the foundation of the basic state pension available to all. This means everyone recognising their responsibilities; with those who are able, saving for their retirement, the Government supporting those who cannot save, and the private sector providing affordable and secure second pensions.

Before April 2001, many of those who could put money aside to provide for themselves in retirement had no straightforward, good-value way to enter a pension scheme. Stakeholder pensions, which were introduced from that date, offered such people a route through provision of a simple, low-charge, flexible pension scheme which, for many employees, can be accessed through their workplace.

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Stakeholder pensions are open to everyone and over 490,000 have been sold in their first seven months on the market. They are particularly targeted at moderate and higher earners who do not have access to an occupational pension or to a cost-effective personal pension. Many of the target group work for employers without a comprehensive occupational or personal pension scheme for their staff before the introduction of stakeholder pensions. The requirement for such employers to provide their work force with access to a stakeholder pension scheme came into force on 8 October. It is too early to have sufficient information on which to base a reasoned assessment of take-up by the target group.

Pension Up-rating

Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost of the minimum state pension up-rating guarantee in 2004–05 for each half a per cent. if the September retail price index were to undershoot by 2.5 per cent. [21010]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested is in the table.

Inflation rate in 2004–05 (Percentage)Cost of up-rating guarantee (£ million)


Figures are in 2001–02 prices, rounded to the nearest £50 million.

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