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2 Apr 2003 : Column 720W—continued

Student Debt

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the taxability of employers' contributions to the write-off of student debt in (a) the public sector and (b) the private sector. [105306]

Dawn Primarolo: An employee is taxable on the amount of student debt which his employer pays on his behalf. The tax rules are the same for employees and employers generally, whether in the public or private sector.

Tax Credits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the delay in processing claims for the working tax credit; how many claims (a) have been submitted and (b) are awaiting processing; and if he will make a statement. [105217]

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 24 March 2003, Official Report, column 65W, on tax credits, how many forms have been processed; how many awards of (a) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit have been calculated from forms received; and how many awards he expects to have been calculated in time for the launch of the new tax credits in April. [105673]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answers 27 and 28 March 2003]: There is a single form covering claims to both working tax credit and child tax credit. By 28 February 2003, over 3 million claims had been received (including 334,000 on-line). Where people have claimed in good time, they have answered all the questions on the form and there are no outstanding queries they should have their award set up in time for their first payment in April.

Telephone Helplines

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 7 February, Official Report, column 483W, on telephone helplines, how many calls were made to helplines charged at national rate in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by each telephone number; and what the average duration of the calls was. [105898]

John Healey: The information in respect of the Office for National Statistics is as follows:

HelplineTelephone numberNumber of callsAverage Duration of call
Labour Market Division0207 533 60943,040unknown
IDBR Helpdesk01633 8132291203 minutes
IDBR Analysis service01633 8122932047 minutes
Standard Industrial Classification01633 8129994,2005 minutes
Census Customer Services01329 8138006,900unknown
RPI helpline (recorded message)020 7533 586614,042
RPI helpline manned020 7533 587414,7105 minutes
ONS Geography01329 813477721unknown

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The information relating to HM Customs and Excise and the Royal Mint is not available.

As my earlier answer made clear, none of the Chancellor's other Departments and agencies has telephone helplines charged at the national rate.



Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals are estimated to be eligible in 2003–04 for (a) pension credit, (b) housing benefit, (c) council tax benefit, (d) child tax credit, (e) working tax credit, (f) income support and (g) income-based jobseeker's allowance. [95236]

Malcolm Wicks : Six million families in the United Kingdom are expected to benefit from the new tax credits in 2003–04. However, information on the number of individuals eligible for working tax credit and child tax credit is not available.

The number of individuals estimated to be eligible for pension credit is 4.9 million (3.8 million pensioner households). We have set a PSA target to ensure that at least 3 million households are in receipt of pension credit by 2006. We expect to have made good progress towards this target by October 2004, when we aim to have 2.8 million households in receipt of pension credit.

The available information on existing benefits is in the table.

Estimated numbers of individuals eligible for benefit in 2003–04

BenefitEligible individuals (million)
Housing benefit5.1
Council tax benefit8.1
Income support3.0
Jobseeker's allowance (income based)1.1


1. Individuals are defined as single adults, or both adult partners in a couple, children and non dependent adults are not included in the estimated eligible case load.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100,000.


1. Benefit forecasts—based on PBR 2002 forecasts and take-up estimates from the DWP report "Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-up in 1999/2000".

2. Pension credit forecasts—from DWP Policy Simulation Model.

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate for 2000–01 (a) income support take-up, (b) minimum income guarantee take-up, (c) housing benefit take-up and (d) council tax benefit take-up, broken down by region. [106611]

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Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available. The processes involved in producing take-up statistics are complex and national estimates cannot be routinely disaggregated by region.

The latest take-up statistics covering income related benefits are contained in the DWP report "Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2000/2001", a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has set a target for the number of benefit transactions currently paid in cash to be paid (a) into a current account, (b) into a basic bank account and (c) into a Post Office card account. [105179]

Malcolm Wicks: No target has been set for each individual account option: current bank account, basic bank account, and the Post Office card account. Customers will be supplied with information which clearly sets out their account options and will enable them to choose the account that best meets their needs and circumstances. The take-up of each account option will be dependant on a variety of factors, including the number of people receiving a benefit or pension and customers' behaviour.

The Post Office card account is now up and running and the main banks are making their basic bank accounts available at Post Office branches. Universal banking services has, therefore, been introduced as planned and on time. This represents a very considerable effort and achievement by the Post Office, banks and other parties concerned.

In line with sound principles for managing risks when introducing major projects, we will be increasing the numbers of Post Office card accounts very gradually so that we can ensure the new systems are robust. I will provide the House with regular updates on progress.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to identify the number of people in the East Riding of Yorkshire who are of a pensionable age who are not accessing benefits to which they are entitled. [105196]

Mr. McCartney: We want as many pensioners as possible to take up their entitlement in the East Riding of Yorkshire and across the country. The creation of The Pension Service provides an ideal opportunity to further encourage pensioners to take up their entitlements. We now have a Pension Service local service active throughout England, Scotland and Wales meeting customers in their local community. Not only are our customers being encouraged to claim when they ring their pension centre but local service teams run both appointment and drop in surgeries giving advice and actively encouraging take-up of entitlements.

There is a local service team of 18 staff covering the East Riding of Yorkshire area, dealing with both pensioners and pre-pensioners. The team is currently establishing services in partnership with local organisations. Some examples of this activity include:

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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were claiming (a) unemployment-related and (b) sickness-related benefits in each (i) local authority and (ii) parliamentary constituency in Wales in January. [105245]

Malcolm Wicks: For the latest available information on the number of people claiming sickness related benefits I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 25 February 2003, Official Report, columns 491–92W.

Information of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in January is in the table.

Number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance January 2003
Unitary Authority
Total Wales50,500
Anglesey, Isle of1,700
Blaenau Gwent1,800
Merthyr Tydfil1,200
Neath Port Talbot2,600
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff3,700
The Vale of Glamorgan2,100
Parliamentary Constituency
Total Wales50,500
Alyn and Deeside1,100
Blaenau Gwent1,800
Brecon and Radnorshire800
Cardiff Central1,500
Cardiff North700
Cardiff South and Penarth2,200
Cardiff West1,800
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr900
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire1,400
Clwyd South1,000
Clwyd West1,000
Cynon Valley1,100
Meirionnydd Nant Conwy800
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney1,600
Newport East1,300
Newport West1,700
Preseli Pembrokeshire1,600
Swansea East1,600
Swansea West1,600
Vale of Clwyd1,200
Vale of Glamorgan1,700
Ynys Mon1,700


1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Figures are seasonally unadjusted (seasonally adjusted figures are not available for Local Authorities and Parliamentary Constituencies). Comparisons of different months in the year will be affected by seasonally and are not therefore a guide to trend.


Count of claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobcentre Plus computer systems (including clerically held cases).

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