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Income Distribution

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the income distribution was in each of the last five years in each region of Britain. [26275]

Malcolm Wicks: The latest such information available, relating to the financial year 1999–2000, can be found in the publication "Households Below Average Income 1994/5–1999/00", a copy of which is held in the Library. Results for earlier years are also in the Library. However, year on year comparisons of this information at a regional level are not advisable as any changes over time are likely to be small in relation to sampling variation.

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ONE Pilot

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many working age clients have made a claim for a benefit other than jobseeker's allowance in the ONE Pilot areas since the introduction of compulsory work-focused interviews; and what percentage have failed to take part in the interview. [26480]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: [holding answer 11 January 2002]: For the period 3 April 2000 to 28 December 2001 a total of 261,742 claims for benefits other than jobseeker's allowance were received in ONE Pilot offices. In 1.1 per cent. of these cases the person claiming has failed to take part in a work-focused interview.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for the City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) of 18 December 2001, Official Report, column 180W, on the Child Support Agency, how much money is owed to parents with care by non-resident parents in the UK. [27004]

Malcolm Wicks: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to my right hon. Friend.

Letter from Mike Isaac to Mr. Frank Field, dated 14 January 2002:

Pensioner Poverty

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how the Government are helping pensioners who live in poverty; and what percentage of pensioners in the Midlothian constituency are living in poverty. [27175]

Mr. McCartney: The Government's first priority was to address the immediate problem of pensioner poverty today. That is why we introduced the minimum income guarantee (MIG) in April 1999 to provide money for the poorest pensioners as quickly as possible. We have made it easier for the poorest pensioners to claim MIG, by reducing the 40-page claim form down to just 10 pages, and by introducing a new telephone service.

The Government have also introduced measures to ensure that all pensioners share in rising prosperity. From April 2002 the basic state pension will rise by £3 a week for single pensioners and by £4.80 for couples, on top of

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above-inflation increases last year. This is in addition to the introduction of winter fuel payments, and free TV licences for the over-75s.

From 2003, the pension credit will reward those who have worked hard and saved hard by providing extra cash for those with savings, second pensions and earnings up to incomes of £135 a week for a single pensioner and £200 a week for couples.

The other information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.

As at August 2001 there were 1,600 customers in receipt of minimum income guarantee in the parliamentary constituency of Midlothian.

Disability Benefits (Scotland)

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Galloway and Upper Nithsdale and (b) Scotland are in receipt of (i) disability living allowance and (ii) disability vehicle subsidy. [27429]

Maria Eagle: There is no general subsidy on vehicles for disabled people. The table shows the total numbers of disability living allowance recipients, and how many of them use the higher rate mobility component of the benefit to obtain a vehicle on favourable terms through the motability scheme.

Disability living allowance recipients and number with a motability vehicle at 31 May 2001

AreaDisability living allowance recipients(24)Number with motability vehicles
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale3,510(25)583

(24) Number of DLA recipients rounded to the nearest five.

(25) Includes some motability customers in the Dumfries constituency as postcodes DG2 and DG3 cover both constituencies and data cannot be separated.


ASD Information Centre: 100% data

Benefit Payments (Lewes)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of pensioners in the Lewes constituency this winter qualify for old age pension, but not for help with winter fuel payments. [27526]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested is not available. However, generally pensioners who satisfy the entitlement conditions for winter fuel payments are either paid automatically or through the claims process.

Ministerial Transport

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he last used the railway service in connection with his official duties; what station he left from and what was the destination; and whether it is his intention to make greater use of the railways in future. [28088]

Mr. Darling: I last used the railway on Monday, travelling from Gatwick to London Victoria. I endeavour to use the railway for official travel as appropriate.

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Arrangements for official travel are made in line with the guidance set out in chapter 7 of the "Ministerial Code", and the accompanying guidance document "Travel by Ministers", using the most efficient and cost effective mode of transport, and bearing in mind security considerations.

Unemployment (Telford)

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the trends in unemployment among under 25-year-olds have been in Telford since 1997. [13461]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: In November 2001 there were 401 unemployed claimants aged 18 to 24 in Telford, of whom 68 had been unemployed for six months or more. Total unemployment in this age group in Telford has fallen by 16 per cent. since November 1997 while six month plus unemployment has fallen by 40 per cent.

Fuel Direct

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures the Government take to promote fuel direct; and what the uptake of fuel direct has been. [13899]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 November 2001]: Tackling fuel poverty is one of this Government's key priorities. A number of measures have been put in place to ensure that by 2010, no vulnerable household will have to struggle to heat their home when it's cold. These measures include the £200 winter fuel payment for households that qualified, cold weather payments, a cut in the level of VAT on fuel and radical improvements to the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme.

The fuel direct scheme provides valuable, last-resort protection against the threat of disconnection for people in receipt of income support and income-based jobseeker's allowance who are in arrears with their utility bills. Fuel companies generally make customers who have fallen into arrears aware of the scheme.

The latest available figures show that in May 2001 1 the fuel direct scheme was helping 55,900 people.

Social Fund

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the costs in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 of the Independent Review Service for the social fund. [19524]

Malcolm Wicks: The Independent Review Service provides an impartial, independent review for people who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their application to the discretionary Social Fund.

Expenditure on the Independent Review Service during 2000–01 was £3.2 million. The 2001–02 budget allocation is £3.7 million.

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