Previous Section Index Home Page

17 Dec 2002 : Column 769W—continued

Benefit Take-up

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department has received the figures from the Office for National Statistics on the take-up of income-related benefits for 2000–01; and when they will be published. [86735]

Malcolm Wicks: The National Statistics bulletin Updates, recently pre-announced a release date of March 2003 for the 2000–01 financial year estimates of take-up of income-related benefits. The Office for National Statistics have delivered to the Department research that will be incorporated in the production of these statistics. On evaluation of these research findings a precise date of release will be pre-announced in Updates.

Child Poverty

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the baseline data was on which his Department's target to reduce the number of children in low-income households by at least 25 per cent. by 2004 was based; and what progress has been made. [87163]

Malcolm Wicks [holding reply 16 December 2002]: The target to reduce the number of children in low-income households by at least aquarter by 2004–05 is measured by the number of children below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income as reported in Households Below Average Income (HBAI) statistics. Baseline for the target is 1998–99 with 3.1 million children in low-income households before housing costs (BHC) and 4.2 million after housing costs (AHC). HBAI statistics show a fall of around 400,000 children between 1998–99 and 2000–01 (3.1 million to 2.7 million) BHC, and 300,000 (4.2 million to 3.9 million) AHC.

The Public Service Agreement target technical note, available on the internet, contains full details of how the target will be monitored.

Combined Pension Forecasts

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many combined pension forecasts have been issued in each month since his Department's current forecasting scheme came into operation. [87164]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 16 December 2002]: The combined pension forecast service was piloted from October 1999, and is now operational. Throughout the pilots the Department has worked with employers and pension providers to ensure they can issue combined pension forecasts to their employees and pension scheme members. Now the service is operational, we are continuing to recruit employers and pension providers in order to build up the service so that is can be made available to as many people as possible. To date, 348 schemes have expressed an interest in using this voluntary service.

17 Dec 2002 : Column 770W

The complete process from recruitment to the time the employer or pension scheme provider provides combined forecasts, can take around 12 to 18 months, and as the private sector partner issues the statement, precise issue dates are their responsibility.

The Department has, however, worked in partnership with a number of providers to facilitate the issue of combined pension forecasts on the following dates:

Year 2002Number of CPF's issued

EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and

Consumer Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the outcome was of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council held on 3 December; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including their voting record; and if he will make a statement. [87252]

Malcolm Wicks: This was a very busy Council with business split over two days. My right hon. Friend attended the Employment and Social Policy part, held on 3 December, accompanied by the Minister for Employment Relations and the Regions, Alan Johnson. The agenda covered a wide range of employment and social policy issues. Council agreed an orientation toward political agreement on a Regulation to replace Regulation 1408/71 which coordinates social security for people moving within the EU. The issues covered at this Council were sickness benefits, benefits for work injury and illness, and death grants. Work will continue on simplification of this regulation under the forthcoming Greek Presidency.

The Council reached political agreement on a Regulation extending provisions of Regulation 1408/71 to nationals of third countries. This Regulation will be adopted at a future council.

The Council also agreed to minor revisions to the objectives agreed at Nice in 2000 for the next round of National Action Plans on social inclusion.

The Council agreed a number of Resolutions: on e-accessibility for disabled people, ahead of the European year for disabled people in 2003; on social inclusion through social dialogue; and on corporate social responsibility.

This Council also produced Conclusions on gender mainstreaming within the Council and Council Conclusions on a series of indicators concerning violence against women.

17 Dec 2002 : Column 771W

There were three substantive discussions at this Council. Council adopted a joint report with ECOFIN on the streamlining of the annual co-ordination of economic and employment policies after some discussion. The report is in line with the UK's desire to see reform of the employment processes to emphasise outcomes and ensure that all work is geared to achieving the Lisbon objectives.

There was also an orientation debate on the Commission's proposed Directive on improving working conditions for temporary agency workers. Amongst other issues, the UK continued to argue for a longer derogation than the six weeks proposed in the Commission paper. The Greek Presidency will continue to seek a compromise on this dossier when they take over the Presidency next year.

The Council agreed a Decision establishing a Tripartite Social Summit after discussion. This will be forwarded as a Report from the ESPHCA to the General Affairs and External Relations Council, and recommends continuing the current informal arrangements.

The Council adopted joint conclusions with ECOFIN on the structural indicators for the 2003 Synthesis report.

The Commission presented its draft of the Joint Employment Report at this Council. The draft was remitted to the Employment Committee for consideration.

The Presidency announced that it would shortly be bringing forward a revised proposal for a Directive protecting workers from the risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields and waves.

No votes were taken on any of these issues.

Fairground Safety

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many fairground rides have been surveyed in each year since 1990; and by how many surveyors. [85727]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 10 December 2002]: The Health and Safety Executive does not hold this information. The industry, in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive, is however developing a system that will be able to supply this information in the future.

Guidance produced by the Health and Safety Executive in consultation with the industry XFairgrounds and Amusements Parks, Guidance on Safe Practice", requires that every fairground ride, and any ancillary parts of the ride which may affect the safety of the ride are subject to thorough examination at least annually, or within any shorter period specified by the manufacturer or appointed inspection body.

Once the inspection body that carried out the examination is satisfied with the safety of the ride, a Declaration of Operational Compliance, (DoC) is issued to the operator to allow him to continue to operate this fairground ride.

17 Dec 2002 : Column 772W

The number of registered inspection bodies (excluding those registered to inspect coin operated children's rides) was 27 as of 4 December 2002. This information is available on the NAFLIC web page Further details can be obtained from NAFLIC, PO Box 752, Sunderland SR3 1XX. Tel/Fax 0191–5239498.


Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many telephone calls were made to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline in (a) January, (b) February and (c) March in (i) 1999, (ii) 2000, (iii) 2001, and (iv) 2002. [86994]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 12 December 2002]: The information requested is in the table.

Number of calls to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline



National Benefit Fraud Hotline

Health and Safety Executive

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Band 6 administrative staff have resigned from the North West Division office in Manchester since its relocation in January 2001. [84774]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The North West (Manchester) office relocated on 8 January 2001. There have been 17 Band 6 resignations (nine female and eight male) between 8 January 2001 and 30 November 2002.

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what expenditure was made in 2001–02 on casual staff supplied by Reed Employment in the North West Division of the Health and Safety Executive. [84783]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Expenditure in 2001–02 on casual staff supplied by Reed Executive plc to NW Division was #56,337.

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which division of the HSE is the largest employer of casual staff in the FO Division. [85059]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: HSE does not directly employ casual staff. Temporary vacancies in the administrative, typing and mail/messenger disciplines are filled by the use of employment agency staff under an HSE contract with Reed Executive.

The East and South East division is currently the largest user of this service within the Field Operations Directorate of the HSE.

Next Section Index Home Page