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Child Poverty

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what contribution increases in child benefit have made to reducing the numbers of children living in poverty over the past five years. [57952]

Malcolm Wicks: Child poverty and social exclusion are complex, multi-dimensional concepts, affecting many aspects of children's lives. The third opportunity for all report (Cm 5260) sets out the Government's strategy for tackling child poverty and social exclusion and presents information on the indicators used to monitor progress against this strategy.

As part of this strategy, since 1997 there have been significant increases in child benefit—the rate for the first child has increased by over 25 per cent. in real terms.

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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many computers were replaced in his Department in each of the past three years; how the replaced units were disposed of and by which companies; and at what cost. [60744]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department for Work and Pensions is a new Department formed in June 2001. The new Department encompasses the former DSS (and its Executive Agencies) and the former Employment Service (ES). While the new Department is currently converging the IT infrastructure of these two former Departments, the information requested is shown against the relevant Department which originally purchased the equipment.

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Employment Service (ES)

On 1 August 1998 the Employment Service (ES) entered into a partnership agreement with EDS (Electronic Data Systems) for provision of all IT and Telephony services. This included the replacement of 41,000 desktop computers during the period October 2000 to March 2002. The replaced units were donated by EDS to Paces, a charitable organisation based in Sheffield. The cost of disposal cannot be separately identified as this formed an integral part of a commercial agreement to provide new equipment.

Department of Social Security (DSS)

As part of the Government's modernisation agenda, the Early Office Infrastructure (EOI) Project is currently in the process of implementing in excess of 100,000 PCs across the former DSS estate. The vast majority of computers being provided are replacing dumb terminals with no commercial value. Rollout of computers commenced in August 2001 and is due to be complete by December 2002. Approximately 60,000 computers have been deployed in this period. Disposal of IT equipment is handled by the Ministry of Defence Disposal Services Agency.

Prior to the commencement of the EOI Project, ICL Multi-Vendor Computing disposed of computers in the former DSS. The contract allowed ICL to dispose of Computers at no cost to the Department, unless the contractor could demonstrate that the cost of disposal exceeded revenue generated by resale. Details of computers purchased in this period are shown in the table:


Child Support

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to allow the Child Support Agency to impose deduction from earnings orders on service personnel; and if he will make a statement. [60768]

Malcolm Wicks: None.

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to review the Child Support (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 with regard to service personnel; and if he will make a statement. [60767]

Malcolm Wicks: None.

Antisocial Tenants

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received on the proposal to give local authorities the power to reduce housing benefit for antisocial tenants; and if he will place related correspondence in the Library. [60442]

Malcolm Wicks: The idea of withholding people's housing benefit if their behaviour is persistently anti-social was raised in a Bill put before this House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field).

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We believe in the principle that rights should be matched by responsibilities and support the underlying objectives of the Bill. We are currently considering how the Bill could be put into a workable format.

We have received some representations about the Bill. However, it would be inappropriate to publish the few letters received, as they are not in response to public consultation.

Verification Framework

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) of 15 April 2002, Official Report, column 699W, if he will provide a breakdown for the estimated figure of £100 million of net savings from the introduction of the verification framework. [61383]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is in the table.

Estimated net annual savings in benefit expenditure from the verification framework at January 2002 compliance levels
£ million

OverpaymentsUnderpaymentsNet savings
New claims40040
Renewal claims532033


Analytical Services Division analysis

Basic State Pension

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what would be the value of the basic pension for (a) a single pensioner and (b) married couple (i) if the link to average earnings or prices had not been repealed and (ii) if the pension had been increased in line with average earnings since then. [61151]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested is set out in the table. Our priority is to ensure that all pensioners have a decent and secure income in retirement and to share fairly in the rising prosperity of the country. The basic state pension will remain the foundation of income in retirement. To achieve this, we have increased the basic state pension over the last two years above the level of RPI and we have provided extra help for pensioners through the minimum income guarantee, winter fuel payments and free TV licences for the over-75s. We have given a guarantee that the basic state pension will be increased by at least £100 a year for single pensioners and £160 for couples in 2003–04 and in future years by 2.5 per cent. or the increase in the September retail prices index, whichever is the higher.

Compared with the 1997 system, an average pensioner household will be £840 a year better off and around 1.8 million of the poorest pensioner households will be over £1,000 a year better off, and the Government will be spending an extra £6 billion a year in real terms on pensioners this year. This £6 billion includes £2.5 billion more on the poorest third of pensioners, which is three times more than an earnings link since 1998 would have given them.

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£ per week

Basic state pension at November 197923.3037.30
Actual amount in April 200275.50120.70
Amount in April 2002 if up-rated by higher of RPI/earnings105.70169.00
Amount in April 2002 if up-rated with average earnings102.60164.20


1. Rates are taken from November 1979 as the earnings link was broken in November 1980.

2. The retail prices index (all items) has been used as published by the Office for National Statistics.

3. Average Earnings Index Whole Economy (non-seasonally adjusted) has been used as published by the Office for National Statistics.

4. Figures have been rounded to the nearest five pence at each uprating.


Information Centre, Analytical Services Directorate

Alignment Payments

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many alignment payments were awarded in each of the last 10 years; what the expenditure on alignment payments was in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. [62001]

Malcolm Wicks: Social Fund alignment payments provide valuable help to people awaiting their first payment of wages on taking up work. They can also help people with essential day-to-day living expenses in advance of their first payment of benefit.

The information is in the table.

Social Fund crisis loan alignment payments

YearNumber of paymentsExpenditure (£ million)

(45) Technical problems with Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System mean that figures for the years 1996–97 to 1998–99 may be subject to a margin of error of 5 per cent to 10 per cent. and should therefore be treated as a guide only.


1. Expenditure figures are rounded to the nearest £ million.

2. Awards including alignment payments may include other items.


Annual Reports by the Secretary of State on the Social Fund 1992–93 to 2000–01 and Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System.

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