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3 Jun 2003 : Column 387W—continued

Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the rates of Unemployment Benefit/Jobseekers Allowance (Contributions) were for a single claimant over the age of 25 in each year since 1979; and what those rates would have been had the benefit been uprated annually in line with the percentage increases in average earnings. [113933]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 19 May 2003]: The levels of social security benefits are reviewed each year and approved by Parliament. A range of factors is considered when reviewing benefit levels. As a contributory benefit Unemployment Benefit was uprated using the Retail Price Index. When Jobseeker's Allowance was introduced in 1996 it was decided that both income-based and contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance would be uprated using the Rossi index.

The information requested is set out in the table.

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Unemployment benefit/Jobseeker's Allowance (contributory) for a single claimant over 25
£ per week

Date of upratingRate of Unemployment Benefit/Jobseeker's Allowance(58)Value if 1978 amount had been uprated in line with average earnings(59)
November 197815.7515.75
November 197918.5018.75
November 198020.6522.20
November 198122.5024.80
November 198225.0026.90
November 198327.0529.20
November 198428.4530.70
November 198530.4533.35
July 198630.8034.90
April 198731.4536.80
April 198832.7539.65
April 198934.7043.20
April 199037.3547.40
April 199141.4051.85
April 199243.1055.80
April 199344.6558.40
April 199445.4559.90
April 199546.4561.90
April 199648.2563.70
April 199749.1566.30
April 199850.3569.10
April 199951.4072.40
April 200052.2075.60
April 200153.0578.60
April 200253.9582.00
April 200354.6584.95

Source:DWP Information Centre, Information and Analysis Directorate


1. Jobseeker's Allowance replaced Unemployment Benefit on 7 October 1996.

2. Figures have been calculated by uprating the November 1978 value in line with the average earnings index for each year and have been rounded to the nearest 5 pence at each uprating.

Local Authority Funding

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what specific or direct grants have been made by his Department to local authorities for

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2003–04 (a) in England and (b) broken down by local authority, identifying whether the grant is (i) ring fenced, (ii) a specific formula grant, (iii) within aggregate external finance and (iv) outside aggregate external finance. [114917]

Malcolm Wicks: Details of the grants provided for 2003–04 by the Department for Work and Pensions, broken down by local authority, have been placed in the Library. The grants, which are based on a specific formula, provide subsidies relating to the costs of administering Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, the start-up and ongoing costs of Pension Credit, and the ongoing costs of New Tax Credits, each of which are listed separately. The grants are not ring-fenced and are included in aggregate external finance.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of entitled pensioners aged (a) 60 to 64, (b) 65 to 69, (c) 70 to 74, (d) 75 to 79 and (e) 80 years and older claimed the minimum income guarantee in the latest year for which figures are available; and what the (i) mean and (ii) median benefit not claimed were for each age group. [116255]

Maria Eagle: Reliable estimates of take-up and the amounts unclaimed of the Minimum Income Guarantee are not available by age.

An examination of data underlying the latest MIG take-up statistics, which relate to 2000–01, indicates that there was no evidence of a clear difference in take-up between younger and older pensioners.

Ministerial Transport

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of (a) ministerial cars and drivers and (b) taxis for his Department was in 2002. [101537]

Maria Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Douglas Alexander) on 20 May 2003, Official Report, column 663W.

The cost of taxi fares incurred by the Department for Work and Pensions is not recorded centrally and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

New Deal for Young People

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people have gained a first Level 2 qualification under the New Deal for Young People in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement; [114475]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: Information on the achievement of qualifications by New Deal for Young People participants is not collected on a national basis. The success of the programme is measured through the number of young people starting and sustaining work.

The achievement of qualifications is an important element in the development and employability of young people and training within the New Deal for Young People is aimed at equipping young people with the skills and knowledge to enter sustained employment.

Information on qualifications held and subsequently achieved through New Deal is recorded and monitored by New Deal Personal Advisers on an individual basis at local level. However, information at national level could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Pension Credit

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost of the pension credit in (a) 2004, (b) 2010, (c) 2020, (d) 2030, (e) 2040 and (f) 2050 under the three alternative scenarios in the document entitled The Pension Credit: Long-term projections if the incomes that pensioners bring to account in income-assessed benefits rise in line with prices, rather than average earnings whilst all other assumptions used in the scenario are unchanged. [114554]

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assumptions have been made concerning the growth in pensioners' incomes from non-state sources in the estimates of future expenditure on pension credit shown in figure A3.1 of the Pensions Green Paper; what the estimated expenditure would be if this growth were (a) half the level assumed; and (b) three-quarters the level assumed. [116256]

Maria Eagle: The latest projections of the full cost of Pension Credit (guarantee credit and savings credit) to 2050 are published on page 148, Annex 3 of the Pensions Green Paper 'Simplicity, security and choice: working and saving for retirement' (cm 5677). Based on a number of assumptions about the future, as set out in Annex 3, this shows that Pension Credit expenditure could rise to around 1.45 per cent of GDP by 2050.

One of the assumptions used was that on average, income brought to account in the Pension Credit would increase in line with average earnings.

The Pensioners' Incomes Series 2000/1, based on Family Resources Survey and Family Expenditure Survey data, shows that average pensioner incomes between 1979 and 1996–97 rose by 64 per cent. in real terms, compared to average earnings growth in the whole economy of 36 per cent. in real terms. More recent growth estimates are subject to uncertainty, but the growth in average pensioner incomes between 1994–95 and 2000–01 was around 17 per cent. in real terms, higher than average earnings (up 9 per cent. over the same period).

Projections of future Pension Credit spending based on a number of alternative assumptions, and in different years, are not available centrally and could only be

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obtained at disproportionate cost. However as an indication, under an assumption that pensioner incomes increased by prices to 2050, the cost of Pension Credit could be around 2 percentage points of GDP higher than the published costs. As explained, given the evidence of past pensioner income growth, the likelihood that those eligible for Pension Credit in the future will have higher state retirement pension income than previous cohorts, and the growth of non-pension income, such as income from housing or earnings, this assumption is likely to be unrealistic.

The long-term cost of Pension Credit will also depend greatly on the decisions made by future governments in annual uprating statements. This Government is committed to increase the guarantee in line with average earnings for the remainder of this Parliament; ensuring that all pensioners share in rising national prosperity. Following the introduction of the Pension Credit, the Government will be spending an additional £9.2 billion on pensioners in 2004–05 as a result of measures introduced since 1997.

Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to minimise delays in the payment of pension credit to pensioners when it is introduced; and what steps he will take to promote the availability of emergency pension credit payments for pensioners whose payments are delayed. [115292]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 22 May 2003]: We have adopted a take on approach for Pension Credit which allows a controlled and measured build up of applications enabling us to ensure that we have appropriate levels of staff to deal with them and avoid unnecessary delays in issuing payment. Around 1.8 million people who currently receive the Minimum Income Guarantee will be transferred automatically to Pension Credit ready for payments to be made from October 2003. We will also ensure that all pensioner households have the information they need to decide whether to apply and all who apply before October 2004, if entitled, will receive payment as though they had claimed at the very start, or to the first day they could have qualified if this is later.

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to ensure that letters to potential claimants for the pension credit are free of ambiguity. [115400]

Maria Eagle: The direct mail packs to pensioner households about Pension Credit have been subject to a rigorous process of quality assurance, including consultation with external organisations, customer research and testing. The clarity of the mail packs was approved with the Plain English Campaign Crystal Mark. Findings during the current period of advance applications will be taken into account before the main Pension Credit take-on begins in October.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to write to pensioners not receiving the minimum income guarantee with information on the pension credit, in priority order of those most likely to make a valid claim. [115480]

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Maria Eagle: The Pension Service has begun to write to pensioner households to explain pension credit and to invite applications. The order in which households are contacted has been designed to produce a controlled and measured build up of applications, evenly distributed throughout the UK. By June 2004, all pensioner households will have been contacted. The Department will, during the period when advance applications for pension credit can be made, continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing campaign and make any refinements needed to ensure that pensioners take up their entitlement. All those who apply before October 2004, if they are entitled, will receive payment as though they had claimed at the very start, or to the first day they could have qualified if this is later.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he received the Treasury documents relating to the five economic tests and the 18 background studies; what discussions he has held with ministerial colleagues on the tests since receipt of the documents; when he expects to complete his analysis of the documents; and what representations (a) he and (b) departmental officials will make to other Departments before a decision is reached on the economic tests. [115379]

Malcolm Wicks: The Treasury's 18 supporting studies on EMU were sent to Cabinet Ministers on 16 May. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor are holding meetings with Cabinet Ministers. There was an initial discussion at Cabinet on 22 May. There will be a special Cabinet meeting on 5 June. My right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make a statement to the House of Commons on 9 June.

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