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19 Mar 2003 : Column 853W—continued

Prison Employees

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS employees work in prisons. [103382]

Jacqui Smith: A survey carried out in January 2003 identified 3,513 staff as providing healthcare in prisons. Of these, 1,953 were employed by the prison service. Information is not collected centrally about how many of the rest were National Health Service employees.

Social Workers

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he plans to issue an international code of conduct for the recruitment of overseas social worker staff. [100144]

Jacqui Smith: It is the responsibility of individual employers to ensure that their recruitment policies and procedures comply with current legislation whether recruiting within England or abroad.

Employers of qualified social workers from abroad can verify the qualifications of applicants within the General Social Care Council (GSCC). This is an advisory service to employers on the standing of international qualifications. They will also issue a letter of verifications for foreign qualifications to those social workers from abroad who choose to apply for it. This confirms the professional status of the qualification held in the country of origin.

The GSCC has also issued codes of practice for social care workers and employers which apply to all social care staff across the United Kingdom, irrespective of from where they are recruited. Appliance with these codes is taken into account when enforcing care standards.



Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for which benefits the threshold payment of compensation for delays in processing the benefit is less than eight months' delay. [97909]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is as follows.

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Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many cases, in each year since 1997, compensation for delay in processing benefit in respect of retirement pension has been paid; what percentage such costs represent of total applications for retirement pension in each year; and what average level of compensation has been paid in each case. [97910]

Mr. McCartney: The information is in the table.

Retirement pension compensation cases (for delay) in comparison to applications received

YearNumber of retirement pension compensation paymentsNumber of retirement pension claims (thousands)Percentage of compensation payments to claims received (percentage)Average compensation paid in each case (£)
2000–011,0686110.17271 .59

1. Figures for retirement pension claims have been rounded to the nearest thousand.

2. The final totals for 2002–03 are not, as yet, available.

Child Benefit Cancellation

Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations the Department has received from the Learning and Skills Council about the cancellation of a mother's child benefit due to receipt of a £40 per week grant through the modern apprenticeship scheme. [100614]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department receives many representations on a variety of issues.

For young people between the ages of 16 and 18, Child Benefit is payable if they are in full-time, non advanced education, and for a short defined period after they leave such education. Child Benefit is not payable for those who start work or work-based training.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many cases parents with care not on income support have voluntarily discontinued using the services of CSA to collect child maintenance in each of the last 12 months. [100812]

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.

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Letter from Doug Smith to Steve Webb, dated March 2003:

Disability Benefits

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) in what circumstances disability living allowance is currently payable to persons who go abroad; and if he plans to review this; [101724]

Maria Eagle: Under domestic law, people who are ordinarily resident in Great Britain can receive disability living allowance (DLA) during the first 26 weeks of a period of temporary absence abroad. This period can be extended where someone is abroad specifically to receive treatment for an illness or disability. Members of HM ·forces serving abroad and their families, mariners and airmen working abroad, and people working on the UK sector of the continental shelf may also receive these benefits.

People who spend longer than 26 weeks abroad can receive DLA immediately upon their return providing the total period of temporary absence does not exceed 52 weeks. A longer absence will defer entitlement by a corresponding number of weeks, for example, a person who returns after 54 weeks can be paid after two weeks of residence and, after 78 weeks of temporary absence, a person will need to spend 26 weeks in Great Britain before payment can recommence.

Under European Community law, workers and members of their families who were entitled to DLA before 1 June 1992 can continue to receive it if, before that date, they left the UK and took up permanent residence in another member state of the European Union (EU). The law changed at that date, with transitional provision made for such cases. The provisions are treated as also covering workers and members of their families who move to another member state after 1 June 1992 provided their entitlement to the benefit started before that date. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Gibraltar and Switzerland are treated like EU member states for social security purposes.

Disabled students can receive DLA on the same basis as other severely disabled people. The 26 weeks temporary absence rule means that those who study in another country, whether or not an EU member state, can receive payment continuously if they return to Great Britain during the vacations.

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Students pursuing their studies in Great Britain may also receive incapacity benefit (IB). In addition, those who are entitled to a disability premium or severe disability premium in the assessment of income support (IS), housing benefit (HB) and council tax benefit (CTB) are eligible for IS, HB and CTB while studying full-time in Great Britain.

The domestic law on temporary absence abroad which applies to contribution-based IB and non-contributory IB (which replaced severe disablement allowance for young people from April 2001) reflects the rules for DLA, subject to certain conditions. The recipient must have been incapable of work for six months or receiving treatment for their incapacity or have an incapacity which resulted from an industrial injury. Payment of IB can continue beyond the first 26 weeks if the person also gets DLA (or attendance allowance, which is available to severely disabled people aged 65 or over).

Under European community law, IB based on National Insurance contributions can usually be paid to people resident in an EU member state. It can also be paid in countries with which the UK has a reciprocal social security agreement. Any further provisions for the payment of IB depend on the terms of the individual agreements.

IS is payable for up to four weeks of absence abroad. Payment is made when the recipient returns. Any person who is temporarily away from home may receive HB and CTB for up to 13 weeks provided they intend to return during that period and their home is not let or sub-let during their absence.

We have no plans to review these arrangements. Information about Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Office.

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