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20 Mar 2003 : Column 919W—continued

Benefits Agency

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of claims made to the Benefits Agency were delayed because of papers lost or mislaid by the Agency in the last year for which figures are available. [88534]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information requested is not available.

In April 2002, we launched Jobcentre Plus and the Pensions Service, replacing the Benefits Agency. The Department and its Agencies are committed to providing a high level of customer service and have published customer charters setting out the level of service that customers can expect to receive.

Both Agencies treat all post and claim forms as confidential items taking all necessary action resulting from that post, both promptly and accurately. If a customer reports that an item of post has not been actioned, Agency staff will check to ensure that it has not been misplaced within the office. If a claim to benefit is delayed because the Agencies have lost forms or papers they will make every effort to ensure that the customer does not suffer unduly by rectifying the situation as quickly as possible. In a case of maladministration where a customer suffers financial loss, stress or is put to additional inconvenience, the Agencies can, in addition, make financial redress through our special payments schemes.

Business Bureaucracy

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the forms that his Department requires private sector businesses to complete and return. [98090]

Malcolm Wicks: A list of forms that the Department for Work and Pensions, including the Health and Safety Executive requires private sector business to complete has been placed in the Library. This list excludes forms used with contracted providers, and those providing professional services, such as general practitioners, building societies and banks.

The Government's aim is to eliminate unnecessary regulation, and to minimise the burdens imposed by regulation. It is committed to reducing, wherever possible, existing regulatory burdens, and to minimising the impact on business of any new legislation.

Pensions Consultation

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when and where the West Midland Regional DWP consultation meeting scheduled for 3 April will take place; who may attend; and if he will make a statement. [104058]

Mr. McCartney: The Government are conducting the largest consultation ever mounted on pensions issues. To ensure the widest possible range of views are sought they have established a partnership with Age Concern and the Co-operative Insurance Society to consult on the proposals in the Pensions Green Paper, "Simplicity, security and choice: Working and saving for retirement", Cm 5677. The aim of this tier of consultation is to reach individuals, groups and organisations that may not ordinarily have the opportunity to air their views direct to Ministers. A series of consultation events will take place, one in each of the Government Office Regions in England, one in Wales and one in Scotland.

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Arrangements for the whole series of meetings have yet to be finalised. However the event for the West Midlands GOR will be held on 3 April at the Copthorne Merry Hotel in Dudley. Attendance is by invitation only.

Age Concern and CIS will identify and issue invitations to people in the following groups. Some invitations for the West Midlands event have already been issued.

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A small number of people/organisations will be invited by the local Pension Service.

Departmental Budget

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the percentage share of his Department's total spending accounted for by (a) pensions, (b) disability related benefits, (c) unemployment benefits, (d) child benefits and (e) housing benefits in each year from 1982–83 to 2002–03, estimated. [96815]

Mr. McCartney: The information is in the following table:

Share of expenditure on type of benefit shown, Great Britain, financial years
Percentage of total

Child benefits
PensionsDisability benefitsUnemployment benefitsExcluding IRB* child elementsIncluding IRB* child elementsHousing benefits

* IRBs: Income-related benefits—income support, income based jobseeker's allowance family credit and disability working allowance.

Notes and definitions:

(a) "Pensions" includes retirement pension, minimum income guarantee and its predecessors, winter fuel payments and over 75 TV licences. Expenditure on over 75 TV licences includes Northern Ireland.

(b) Disability-related benefits include disability living allowance, attendance allowance, mobility allowance, invalid care allowance, independent living funds and vaccine damage payments.

(c) Unemployment benefits include jobseeker's allowance, unemployment benefit, and income support/supplementary benefit for the unemployed.

(d) Child benefits include child benefit (including lone parent addition), one parent benefit, guardian's allowance and child's special allowance, plus child-related elements of income support, jobseeker's allowance, family credit and disability working allowance in the second of the two columns.

(e) Housing-related benefits include housing benefit, council tax benefit, community charge benefit and rate rebate, including those elements of expenditure financed within local authorities' housing revenue accounts and general funds.

Figures are rounded to the nearest whole per cent.


Departmental accounts and estimated out-turn underlying the pre-Budget 2002 forecasts.

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Domestic Violence

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what financial support is available for spouses and their dependants who are seeking exceptional leave to remain on the basis of the domestic violence concession. [96889]

Malcolm Wicks: Provided that the Home Office is satisfied that a marriage has broken down due to domestic violence, it can apply a concession to the immigration rules (during the probationary one-year period), giving the victim indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. This provision allows victims of domestic violence to claim social security benefits.

Employers Liability Insurance

Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of responses to the consultation on employers liability insurance; and if he will make a statement. [102897]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement I gave on 12 December 2002, Official Report, columns 23–24WS. The Department is in the process of assessing the responses to the consultation undertaken as part of the review of Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance which is due to report in the spring.

Incomes (Blackpool, North and Fleetwood)

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average income is in the constituency of Blackpool, North and Fleetwood. [98677]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is not available. Information on average income is available at a national level from the Department's Family Resources Survey but sample sizes and other limitations mean that the information cannot be regarded as robust at regional and sub-regional level.

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