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9 Jun 2003 : Column 702W—continued

Pension Credit

20. Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners will be in receipt of means-tested benefits as a result of the introduction of the Pension Credit. [117302]

Maria Eagle: Around half of all pensioner households will be entitled to Pension Credit when it is introduced in October and stand to gain £400 a year on average. We are committed to ensuring that as many of them as possible take it up.

We estimate that by October 2003 around 1.8 million MIG claims will be automatically transferred to Pension Credit. Between October 2003 and October 2004 we expect to take on a further million successful applicants for Pension Credit.

We also expect an additional 250,000 pensioners to become newly entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit from October.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what use of regional and local media his Department proposes to make in publicising Pension Credit and encouraging take-up. [117287]

Maria Eagle: We want as many pensioners as possible to take up their entitlement to Pension Credit which will be worth £400 a year on average to each pensioner household.

We plan a comprehensive campaign, including national press and TV advertising as well as flyers in regional and local papers and magazines.

Housing Benefit Fraud

21. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement about the level of Housing Benefit fraud. [117303]

Malcolm Wicks: We have set a challenging target to reduce fraud and error in Housing Benefit for working age people. We are working with local authorities to achieve a 25 per cent. reduction in March 2006.

We are already using a wide range of initiatives to tackle Housing Benefit fraud. Since January 2003 the Department has funded Departmental solicitors to take forward prosecutions on behalf of local authorities. Our joint effort with local authorities is paying dividends—local authority prosecutions and sanctions for benefit fraud have more than doubled in the last two years.

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In addition, 81 per cent. of local authorities have now signed up to our Verification Framework, which stops fraud getting into the system in the first place. Additional funding has been made available from April, resulting in an across-the-board 50 per cent. increase for local authorities already compliant with the scheme or considering taking it up.

For the first time we are undertaking an ongoing review of fraud and error in Housing Benefit and first results will be available later this year.

Poverty Definition

22. Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the new definition of poverty will be announced. [117304]

Malcolm Wicks: We launched Measuring Child Poverty: a consultation document in April 2002. We received over 80 detailed written responses to the consultation and have gathered feedback from workshops in London and Edinburgh with academics and organisations interested in child poverty measurement. We have also organised workshops in partnership with organisations such as the Children's Society, Barnardo's, Children in Wales and the European Anti-Poverty Network—to gather the views of children, young people and adults with direct experience of poverty.

Measuring Child Poverty Consultation: preliminary conclusions was published in May 2003. This outlines recommendations and next steps based on a thorough analysis of the responses to the consultation. The report states that further technical work is necessary before finalising any new measure of child poverty and that we intend to publish final conclusions by the end of 2003.

Both reports are available in the Library.

Occupational Pensions Schemes

23. Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the number of occupational pensions schemes that have closed in the last year. [117305]

Maria Eagle: The recent Green Paper 'Simplicity, security and choice: Working and Saving for Retirement' (Cm5677) set out proposals to minimise the number of pension scheme closures or wind-ups by encouraging employers to promote and persevere with pension schemes of all kinds. We intend significant simplification of the regulatory regime which could save employers considerable amounts of time and money.

Child Support

24. Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to change the rules on the pre-existing child support arrangements with regard to student loan payments. [117306]

Malcolm Wicks: No.

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Adult Education

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people counted under (a) claimant count unemployment figures and (b) International Labour Organisation unemployment figures did not have a first Level 2 qualification in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement; [114485]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell to Paul Holmes of 3 June 2003:

Unemployed people of working age (29)without a first NVQ Level 2 or equivalent qualification(30) United Kingdom

March to February

(29) Men aged 16–64 and women aged 16–59

(30) People with DO qualifications and those whose highest qualification is below NVQ level 2 or equivalent

Note:These Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates have not been interim adjusted to take account of the recent census 2001 results.


ONS—Labour Force Survey

Proportion of economically inactive people of working age (31)without a first NVQ level 2 or equivalent qualification(32), by age United Kingdom
Per cent

March to FebruaryTotal16–1718–2425–3435–4950–69/64
2000–0138.343.818.135.843.144 2
2002–0337.343.919.533.541 843.0

(31) Men aged 16–64 and women aged 16–69

(32) Includes economically inactive people with no qualifications, and those whose highest qualification is below NVO level 2 or equivalent


These Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates have not been interim-adjusted

to take account of the recent Census 2001 results.

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Advice Services

Mr. Paul Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish an implementation strategy for the Government's objective of providing a one-stop shop advice service to older people by 2006. [115525]

Maria Eagle: This Government made a commitment in it's 2001 Manifesto to the delivery of a 'third age service'. Specifically, it stated that

Over the past few months we have been consulting representatives from the public and voluntary sector who provide benefits and services to older people in order to better understand how we can work more effectively in partnership.

Officials are currently developing plans for how the DWP will enable the development of a 'third age programme'. This will build on the excellent work already underway at local level in many parts of the country to meet the needs of older people in a more joined up way.

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