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5 Jun 2003 : Column 543W—continued

WORK AND PENSIONS

Adult Education

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people entered Work-Based Learning for Adults in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [114478]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information requested is in the table. Figures provided are for England only, as responsibility for Government-funded training in Wales and Scotland is devolved to the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament respectively.

Work-Based Learning for Adults (WBLA)—Delivered by Training and Enterprise Councils

Starts to WBLA
1997–98183,600
1998–9998,100
1999–2000102,700
2000–01108,300

Source:

DfEE WBLA Trainee Database


Work Based Learning for Adults (WBLA)—Delivered by Jobcentre Plus

Starts to WBLA
2001–0267,700
April 2002 to December 0253,200

Source:

DWP WBLA Evaluation Database


Several factors have contributed to the reduction in the numbers of people starting Work-Based Learning for Adults (WBLA) since 1997. These include: the fall in unemployment since 1997; the restriction of WBLA provision to people aged 25 and over (excluding exempt groups) following the introduction of New Deal for Young People; and the introduction of New Deal 25 plus in April 2001. This resulted in JSA recipients unemployed for over 18 months becoming ineligible for Work Based Learning for Adults.

Child Poverty

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in meeting his Department's targets on eliminating child poverty. [116383]

Malcolm Wicks: Poverty is a complex and multi-dimensional problem. We published 'Opportunity for all—Fourth Annual Report' (Cm 5598) in September 2002, which sets out the Government's strategy for

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tackling poverty and social exclusion and presents information on the indicators used to measure progress against this strategy.

In April 2002 we published 'Measuring child poverty: a consultation document' to gather views on an appropriate measure of child poverty for the long term. We published the preliminary conclusions of our consultation on 14 May 2003.

Progress has been made on the Public Service Agreement (PSA) target, shared by the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury, to reduce the number of children in low-income households by at least a quarter by 2004. Data for this are published in 'Households Below Average Income 1994/95 to 2001/02'. On this measure the number of children in low income fell by around half a million between 1996–97 and 2001/02. The baseline for the PSA target is 1998–99. We are making steady progress towards the target.

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

Disability (Administration Costs)

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will break down by category of expenditure the total net administration costs for disability for 2003 set out in Table Five of the Annual Report of the Department, Command Paper 5921; and if he will make a statement. [116870]

Maria Eagle: Information is not currently available at the level of detail requested. In accordance with the requirements of Resource Accounting and Budgeting the Department now accounts for its administration and benefit expenditure by Strategic Objective, as set out in its Public Service Agreements (PSA), and by individual Requests for Resources (RfRs), as set out in the Departmental Estimates and Accounts and as reproduced in Table 5 of the Department's Annual Report, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Means-tested Savings

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans he has to reform the capital rules on means-tested savings. [112095]

Maria Eagle: When the Pension Credit is introduced in October this year, the rules excluding pensioners with £12,000 or more in savings from any help will be abolished. Savings of £6,000 or less (£10,000 or less for those in care homes) will be disregarded in full.

The rate at which we assume income from capital in excess of the £6,000 (£10,000 where appropriate) will be set at £1 in £500, which is half the rate currently assumed for the minimum income guarantee. In addition any assumed income will count towards the savings credit. Overall this means that savings will be treated five times more generously than under minimum income guarantee.

We have no plans to make any further changes to the capital rules.

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Pension Credit

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken on pensions to ensure that all those potentially eligible for the pension credit are individually advised of their right to claim. [115401]

Maria Eagle: The Pension Service has begun to write to pensioner households to explain pension credit and to invite applications. Around £1.8 million people who currently receive the minimum income guarantee have been told that they will be transferred automatically to pension credit, ready for payments to be made from October 2003. In addition, by June 2004, around £6.8 million pensioner households will have been issued with a direct mail pack. This systematic approach will be supported by regional and national advertising.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pension credit direct mailing packs have been distributed; and of those, how many pension credit applications have been received via (a) the pension credit hotline and (b) other methods. [116723]

Maria Eagle: As at 25 May 2003, around 64,000 pension credit direct mail packs have been issued to pensioners. Of these, around 15,000 applications have been taken by the pension credit application line and a small number of applications have been completed through the Pension Service local service teams.

The advance application period has been running for only seven weeks. Since there is a time lag between the issue of the mail pack and the subsequent completion

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and return of the application, direct comparison of figures is difficult at this stage.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether pensioners who do not make a pension credit application using the pension credit hotline will be able to request an application form; and if he will make a statement. [116724]

Maria Eagle: Pensioners who do not want to use the freephone service available to take their pension credit application and wish instead to complete a paper application form will have their contact details taken by the Pension Service and a paper application form will be sent to them around October 2003. From October 2003, paper application forms will be issued as and when they are requested.

Pension Statements

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the (a) employers and (b) pension providers issuing combined pension statements to their employees and policy holders. [116721]

Maria Eagle: The information in the table lists employers and pension providers who are issuing combined pension forecasts to their employees and policy holders. There are 42 employers listed and four providers. An additional 19 companies are registered and a further 454 companies have expressed an interest in taking advantage of the combined pension forecasting service and are at varying stages of the recruitment process.

EmployersEmployersProviders
4th Contact Ltd.MeridianCountrywide Assd Caspil
Aberdeen city councilMerseyside Pension FundCountrywide Assd Vax
Aircraft Research Ass Ltd.MISYSLiverpool Victoria Friendly Society
Albany International Ltd.MolinsPrudential
Alusuisse HoldingsNationwide Pension Fund
Aspen PlcNEC Staff Pension Scheme
Bacon & WoodrowNORTEL Networks UK Pension Trust Ltd.
Barnet CCNorthern Lighthouse Board
Cable & WirelessOxford Instruments
Capita HartsheadPartridge Muir & Warren
Caterpillar UK Ltd.Nationwide Pension Fund
DWP PCSPSReliance Mutual
DWP CheshireRexam PLC
Durham county councilReady Mix Concrete
EMAPShilling Communications
Field Group PlcStock Exchange Centralised Pension Fund
FMC Chemicals PensionThames Water
PlanThe BOC Group
FMC Corp (UK) Pension PlanVencel Resil Ltd.
J Sainsbury PlcWoodgate Fulfilment Ltd.
Kent county council
London—Scottish Fund
Menzies Distribution Ltd.

Pensions

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the threshold for payment of compensation for delays in processing retirement pensions was set at eight months. [115507]

Maria Eagle: Under the terms of the department's discretionary financial redress scheme compensation may be considered where payments are unreasonably and exceptionally delayed due to official error. An objective indicator, specific to each benefit or pension, is employed to assess whether excessive delay has occurred. Available records indicate that a period of eight months has been used since 1 April 1995 for the purpose of calculating delay in payment of retirement pension.

Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to increase pension provision in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [117322]

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Mr. Andrew Smith: The Green Paper 'Simplicity, Security and Choice: working and saving for retirement' Cm 5677 set out proposals designed to give people more options to save more or work for longer in order to meet their expectations in retirement.

I hope to be able to make an announcement next week on the action we intend to take following the Green Paper consultation process.


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