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Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what impact Statutory Instrument 2002, No. 648 will have on the eligibility to claim disability living allowance by those with (a) visual and hearing impairments, (b) heart disease, (c) asthma, (d) epilepsy, (e) ME/CFS and (f) bowel disease. [47731]

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Maria Eagle: Entitlement to disability living allowance is based on the claimant's need for personal care and/or walking difficulties which result from their severe disability. The claimant's medical condition is not, necessarily, the key factor.

This statutory instrument, the Social Security (Disability Living Allowance) (Amendment) Regulations 2002, makes clear that "fear or anxiety" experienced when walking out of doors can be taken into account for entitlement to the lower rate mobility component of disability living allowance only where they are a symptom of a mental disability. It does not alter the basic qualifying criteria for the lower rate mobility component, which require a person to be so severely disabled physically or mentally that they are unable to walk out of doors on unfamiliar routes without guidance or supervision from another person most of the time. The eligibility of claimants with any of the disabilities listed in the question will be unaffected by the statutory instrument except where their claims are based on 'fear or anxiety' experienced in these circumstances.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost would be of (a) extending the period from four to 13 weeks of an adult's stay in hospital before disability living allowance or attendance allowance is removed and (b) extending the period form 12 to 26 weeks before DLA is withdrawn for a child. [43984]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 18 March 2002]: The proposed change would cost in the order of £50 million per annum.






Carers (Savings)

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how he proposes to enable people with caring responsibilities to save for their retirement. [45909]

Maria Eagle: SERPS has served many people well but, because it is purely earnings-related, people on the lowest earnings gain least, and carers and disabled people who cannot work, or earn very little, get nothing at all.

When state second pension is launched on 6 April, 18 million people will start to build up bigger pension entitlements. Some 4.5 million low-paid employees (those earning up to £10,800 in 2002–03) will get at least twice as much additional pension as a person earning £10,800 would have got from SERPS. In addition 2 million qualifying carers and a similar number of long-term disabled people with broken work records will benefit from state second pension. They will be treated, for state second pension purposes, as if they had annual earnings at the low earnings threshold, £10,800 for 2002–03.

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State second pension will also deliver better pensions for 9.5 million moderately paid employees—those earning between £10,800 and £24,600 (in 2002–03 terms).

Employees earning more than £24,600 will get equivalent benefits to those provided by SERPS.

Enhanced national insurance rebates and state second pension "top-ups" will ensure that low and moderately paid employees who are contracted-out into private pensions will also benefit from the reforms.

In addition, we plan that the savings credit element of the pension credit will reward people with second pensions, including state second pension.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which local authorities have not sent information requested or expected by the Department relating to housing benefit administration in 2001; on which occasions figures have been estimated for non-responding local authorities; and what action the Department takes against non-responding local authorities. [41784]

Malcolm Wicks: At present information is provided on a voluntary basis by local authorities. We have reminded all authorities of the importance of providing management information.

Estimates have been made by the Department in respect of non-responding local authorities or missing information since 1994–95 for annual returns and since 1996–97 for quarterly returns.

Information on the number of local authorities who have failed to submit management information returns to the Department in 2000–01 has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to reform subsidies to local authorities for housing benefit administration so they become performance related. [42255]

Malcolm Wicks: We have already increased housing benefit administration subsidy for the year 2001–02 to £166 million, in 2002–03 it will increase to £170 million and to £174 million in 2003–04. This three-year settlement provides local authorities with stability, enabling them to plan more effectively for the future administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit.

As part of our drive to improve local authority performance in delivering housing benefit, we are developing a set of performance standards for effective and secure administration.

Local authorities will be able to self assess their performance against challenging standards that go beyond the core measures of speed, accuracy and basic security and address wider issues—customer service, housing need and anti-poverty objectives.

In April 2001 we launched a new anti-fraud incentive scheme which means that local authorities who uncover more fraud and prosecute fraudsters can expect to receive greater financial reward than before. 63 authorities are

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currently on the scheme, the rest will join in April 2002. The scheme offers additional reward to those authorities who operate the Verification Framework.

For the future, we are looking at how we can use performance assessments to target help and support to authorities that need it most.

Income Support (Dumfries and Galloway)

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Dumfries and Galloway region are in receipt of income support. [45340]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the table.

Income Support recipients in the Dumfries and Galloway local authority area—November 2001

Income support recipientsMinimum income guarantee recipients
4,9005,200

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred, and are based on a 5 per cent. sample which is subject to a degree of sampling variation.

2. Minimum income guarantee for pensioners is defined as income support recipients where the recipient and/or partner are aged 60 or over.

Source:

Income Support Quarterly Statistical Inquiry, November 2001


Child Support

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when current customers of the Child Support Agency will enter the new scheme starting in April; and what plans he has for the implementation of the new plan for existing customers. [45342]

Malcolm Wicks: I refer the hon. Member to the Statement made to this House by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, on 20 March 2002, Official Report, columns 315–16. Existing cases will be transferred when the new system has been introduced and we are sure it is working well.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what gender impact assessment was carried out prior to changes being made to arrangements for child maintenance payments; and if he will place a copy of that assessment in the Library. [44403]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 20 March 2002]: Under the legislation, each non-resident parent and each parent with care is treated in the same manner, irrespective of the sex of the individual. The purpose of the reforms to the child support system is to ensure an increase in the amount of support for children, irrespective of their gender.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he estimates the PSA target for the introduction of the reformed child support scheme for new cases will be met on time. [46102]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 20 March 2002, Official Report, columns 315–16.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disqualification orders have been made since the provision came into effect; and how many prosecutions have been mounted for information offences since their introduction. [44431]

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

Letter from Mr. Doug Smith to Mr. Mitchell, dated 9 April 2002:








Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his oral statement of 20 March, if lone parents receiving income support who start to receive child maintenance after April 2002 will qualify for a maintenance disregard; and what plans he has to compensate those who will not qualify because of the delay in implementing the new CSA computer system. [45919]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The child maintenance premium is an integral feature of the new child support scheme. Cases assessed under the current rules do not have entitlement to the premium. They accrue, depending on the amount of maintenance paid, a potential entitlement to child maintenance bonus. No question of compensation arises.

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to transfer existing CSA clients to the new system; and if he will make a statement. [35375]

Malcolm Wicks: I refer my hon. Friend to the Statement made to this House by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, on 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 315–16.

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Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements will apply to new clients of the child support system after April. [39896]

Malcolm Wicks: I refer my hon. Friend to the Statement made to this House by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, on 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 315–16.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the enhanced enforcement powers for child support. [44437]

Malcolm Wicks: The new powers, in sections 13 (information—offences) and 16 (commitment to prison and disqualification from driving), are intended to help the Child Support Agency to secure compliance. Their success is in the extent to which non-resident parents co-operate with the Agency.

In the majority of the cases that the Agency has taken to court, the non-resident parent has been encouraged to make arrangements to pay maintenance. There have been no prosecutions and therefore no convictions made under the criminal offence of non-cooperation with the Child Support Agency. The deterrent effect of a criminal sanction for failing to provide information when requested is an important element of the new system.


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