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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on EU proposals to ban the on-farm burial of livestock from this end of this year. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: A new EU Animal By-Products Regulation will tighten the controls on the disposal of animal by-products and ban the routine burial of livestock except in remote areas (the Highlands and Islands of Scotland). Further negotiations between the Council of Ministers, European Parliament and European Commission are still required, but we expect the regulation to come into force in member states between the end of 2002 and mid 2003. We are discussing future arrangements for the disposal of fallen stock with stakeholders.
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: No such assessment has been made. However, the State Veterinary Service carried out small scale surveys in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The results (which may not be representative) suggested that 17 to 21 per cent. of fallen cattle and 60 to 76 per cent. of fallen sheep and goats were buried on farm.
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Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) in how many contiguous premises slaughter was completed within 48 hours of a clinical diagnosis of the disease during the foot and mouth epidemic; 
The Government have not ruled out a ban on the testing of household products. The need for testing household products on animals is something that the Animal Procedures Committee is considering and will advise on later this year as part of its review of the cost/benefit assessment. In the meantime, the Government will continue to work to ensure that animals are only used where there are no alternatives.
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of applications for community care grants have been given a priority of medium or high; and how many applications regarded as of high or medium priority have been (a) fully awarded, (b) partially awarded and (c) not awarded in each year since 1997. 
|Year||High priority awards||Medium priority awards|
Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.
2. Figures are for initial awards only.
3. Data on the numbers of applications by priority are not held. It is not practical to collect such data as one application could include requests for high, low and medium priority items.
4. Details of full and partial awards and refusals are not held by priority.
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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the work of the new Disability and Carers Service and the arrangements for handling of individual cases in which other services within the Department may also be involved. 
Maria Eagle [holding answer 26 March 2002]: The Disability and Carers Service aims to provide a responsive, consistent and reliable service in administering Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Invalid Care Allowance. It is working with other parts of the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that a quality service is available to all customers from April 2002.
All DWP businesses operate within a single Department and the customer of one should be treated as the customer of all. Any customer who contacts a DWP business outlet that is not focused upon their particular needs, will be helped to find the assistance they need as quickly as possible and with the minimum of inconvenience. This may mean redirecting them and telephoning in advance, or arranging an appointment on their behalf. Comprehensive guidance has been issued to staff setting out the standards of service we expect when the needs of customers span more than one business.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many families there are with two or more disabled children who are in receipt of disability living allowance in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland. 
Maria Eagle: Disability Living Allowance is awarded to severely disabled people on the basis of their individual care and mobility needs, and information on family circumstances is not collected. At 31 August 2001, about 196,100 children aged under16 were receiving Disability Living Allowance in England, 21,000 in Scotland, and 14,000 in Wales. These figures are based on 5 per cent. data and rounded to the nearest hundred. The Northern Ireland Assembly is responsible for social security matters within Northern Ireland.
Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of the Rent Service report indicating that the number of localities would have increased from 400 to 4000 as a result of the Court of Appeal judgment on local reference rents in Stockport delivered on 26 October 2001, referred to in the First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation, Official Report, 14 January, column 12. 
Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2002, Official Report, column 729W, how many housing benefit claimants are subject to non-dependent deductions; and
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what percentage of that number are (a) registered disabled, (b) aged 60 and over, (c) in receipt of income support or JSA and (d) lone parents. 
|Cases with non-dependant deductions (number)||159,000|
|Receiving a disability premium (percentage)||20|
|Aged 60 or over (percentage)||49|
|In receipt of Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (percentage)||64|
|Lone parents (percentage)||16|
1. The figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample and are subject to a degree of sampling variation.
2. The data refer to Housing Benefit recipients who may be a single person, a couple or a family. More than one benefit recipient can live in one property, for example two or more adults in a flat or house share.
3. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number and do not sum because Housing Benefit recipients can fall into more than one client group.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System, Annual 1 per cent. sample, taken in May 2000.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to speed up the processing of housing benefit applications; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 5 March 2002]: Under Best Value, we have set a range of performance indicators for HB which are designed to ensure that authorities provide their communities with a faster, more accurate service which is more secure against fraud, and which provides value for money and takes account of the views and needs of clients. Authorities are required to set challenging local targets against the indicators and, from April 2002, will be set aspirational national targets for speed of processing.
On 21 March we published performance standards for the full range of HB administration. These address all aspects of administration including effective strategic management of the service; speed and accuracy of processing; modern accessible customer service; preventing and tackling fraud; working with landlords; and overpayments. Local authorities will be able to self-assess their performance against standards.
The HB Help Team is working in partnership with local authorities to support them in improving the administration of HB. We are already seeing real improvements in administration as a result of the Team's work and the ongoing programme of inspections by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate. We also want to help more authorities deliver
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a high standard of HB service by sharing good practice. We are developing a dedicated web-site to do so and we plan to make available shortly on CD a "toolkit" which the Help Team has developed.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average time taken for local authorities to process housing benefit applications has been over the last three years; and if he will make a statement; 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 5 March 2002]: The first full year in which data was collected on the performance of local authorities against performance indicators was 200001. The average times for local authorities to process Housing Benefit applications in England and Scotland are in the tables.
|Average time for processing new claims||52 days|
|Average time for processing notifications for changes of circumstances||17 days|
|Percentage of renewal claims processed on time (ie by the end of the existing benefit period)||63 per cent.|
Not all local authorities provided the data requested and some expressed doubt about the way their data had been collected. Therefore, the figures given are an average of the performance of the local authorities who responded.
Best Value and Audit Commission Performance Indicators for 200001.
|Average time for processing new claims||48 days|
|Average time for processing notifications for changes of circumstances||22 days|
|Percentage of renewal claims processed on time (ie by the end of the existing benefit period)||75 per cent.|
Three of the 32 local authorities in Scotland failed to provide the data requested and, in some cases, the appointed auditors expressed doubt as to the reliability of the data collected. Therefore, the figures given are an average of the performance of the local authorities who responded.
Accounts Commission "Performance Indicators 200001Benefits, Finance and Corporate issues".
At present there are no national target times for local authorities to process Housing Benefit applications. However, on 21 March we published national performance standards for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit administration. Local authorities will be able to assess their own performance, identify areas that need attention and work towards achieving the standards.
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|Average processing time for new housing benefit and council tax benefit claims||36 days|
|Average processing time for housing benefit and council tax benefit changes of circumstances||9 days|
|Percentage of renewal housing benefit and council tax benefit claims processed on time (ie by the end of the existing benefit period)||83 per cent.|
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