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Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will reach a decision as to whether Consignia should pay a dividend to Her Majesty's Government for the current financial year. [26566]

Mr. Alexander: I would expect the decision to be taken after the end of the current financial year.


State Pension Credit

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the basis was for the statement by Baroness Hollis on 18 December 2001, regarding the proportion of pensioners who will take up their entitlement to the state pension credit; and how many entitled non-recipients are implied by that assessment. [26799]

Mr. McCartney: We propose to introduce the pension credit from 2003. Details of how this will be done will be announced in due course. We expect the number of successful claimants to build up over time.

Minimum Funding Requirement

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish a summary of the responses to the consultation on the minimum funding requirement; and when he plans to reform the minimum funding requirement. [26800]

Mr. McCartney: On 7 March 2001 the Government announced proposals to replace the minimum funding requirement (MFR) with a long-term scheme specific standard in the context of a regime of transparency and disclosure, with additional measures to strengthen protection further.

Implementing these proposals in full will require primary legislation. In the meantime we are working with the pensions industry and other interested parties to develop proposals for legislation as soon as parliamentary time becomes available.

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On 18 September 2001, we published "The Minimum Funding Requirement: The next stage of reform" which set out our plans for the next stage of reform of the MFR, including consultation on draft regulations to introduce interim changes to the current MFR. The consultation period on the draft regulations ended on 10 December, and we are currently considering the responses. We plan to make a summary of the responses publicly available, and introduce the regulations, before April this year.

State Pension (Hospital Stays)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much money was raised in the last financial year as a result of docking state pensions because the recipients were in hospital for more than (a) six weeks and (b) 52 weeks. [14451]

Mr. McCartney: The rules for the adjustment of benefit for periods in hospital prevent double provision from public funds as the NHS provides free board and lodgings as well as free treatment. So the downrating rules are based on the principle that Social Security maintenance benefits, also paid out of state funds, should not be paid in full indefinitely where a person is in a NHS hospital and having their day to day living expenses met through the NHS.

These rules, which are laid down in law, have been applied with only minor modifications since the introduction of the national insurance scheme over 50 years ago.

Reduction in state pension expenditure due to hospital downrating in cash terms is as follows:

£ million (cash terms)

Downrating type
6–52 weeksOver 52 weeksTotal


Rounded to the nearest £ million

Attendance Allowance

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the existing forms of state support for care that preclude any entitlement to attendance allowance; and whether he proposes to make any change in these arrangements. [20785]

Mr. McCartney: If a person satisfies the conditions of entitlement to attendance allowance it is paid unless that person is being maintained free of charge while receiving NHS treatment as an in-patient in a hospital or similar institution, or is provided with residential accommodation in circumstances where the cost of that accommodation is, or may be, borne wholly or partly out of public funds.

No changes to these arrangements are proposed.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each of the last five years were entitled to the (a) middle and (b) higher care

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component of the disability living allowance (i) in the United Kingdom and (ii) in the London borough of Hillingdon. [20936]

Mr. McCartney: The information is in the table. The Northern Ireland Assembly is responsible for social security matters within Northern Ireland.

Number of DLA awards current in Great Britain and Hillingdon in the past five years

Middle care Highest care
Great Britain
1997 530,100359,400
1999 590,200391,900


Figures refer to 31 May, based on 5 per cent. data, and rounded to nearest hundred (figures for Hillingdon from 1998, based on 100 per cent. data and rounded to nearest five).


DWP Information Centre

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disability living allowances have been withdrawn from individuals over the last three years; and how many were re-started after a successful appeal. [27020]

Maria Eagle: The information is not available in the form requested.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications for disability living allowances have been received over the last three years; and what was the percentage of successful applications for each year. [27021]

Maria Eagle: The information is in the table.

Number of disability living allowance applications received and percentage successful within the last three years

Applications receivedSuccessful applications(13) (percentage)
January 1999-December 1999390,92047.4
January 2000-December 2000405,83050.8
January 2001-December 2001411,99051.8

(13) Successful applications do not include those which succeed following reconsideration or appeal.


DWP Information Centre: 100 per cent. data rounded

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many of the cases of fraud investigated by the Benefits Agency and dealt with by way of caution and administrative penalty since 1997 the person concerned has been previously subject to (a) caution and administrative penalty, (b) caution and administrative penalty within the preceding three years,

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(c) prosecution leading to conviction and (d) prosecution leading to conviction within the preceding three years. [23235]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available. However, our research suggests that approximately 5 per cent. of prosecutions involve a person with a previous conviction for benefit fraud. We are putting in place mechanisms to identify second and further convictions.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sarwar) of 30 November 2001, Official Report, column 1166W, for what reasons the estimated cost of benefit fraud is different from the estimate offered by the Lord Chancellor in his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 26 November 2001, Official Report, column 987W. [24238]

Malcolm Wicks: Our most recent estimate is that £2 billion is lost annually through benefit fraud in Great Britain. The figure quoted by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor in the answer to which the hon. Member refers is an estimate of the cost of fraud plus estimates for the cost of work related to fraud incurred by the Department, other Government Departments and local authorities.

Hospital Downrating Rules

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to improve the means of informing pensioners of their obligations to notify the Pension Service when they have been in hospital for more than six weeks. [24064]

Mr. McCartney: It is the responsibility of individuals to ensure they notify the Department of all relevant changes of circumstances. However, the introduction of the new Pension Service should make it easier for them to contact us.

Over time, the Pension Service will provide customers and staff with a wide range of contact channels through improved, modern technology including telephony, digital television and the adoption of internet technology. Call and contact centres will be open longer than current office hours allowing customers to contact the Pension Service when it is convenient for them. For example we expect our pension centres to be open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm.

The Pension Service will provide a better environment for our face to face services. This will mean Pension Service staff will meet customers in places they frequent such as the local library, age concern or health centres.

In the future, the replacement of existing computers and the development of new systems that share the same data will mean that customers will not have to repeat the same information and provide the same evidence many times over.

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