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9 Jun 2003 : Column 705W—continued

Age Discrimination

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and pensions what plans he has to introduce legislation to tackle age discrimination. [117300]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: We have made a commitment to introduce legislation to tackle age discrimination in the workplace by 2006. Consultation on this will be taken forward by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

In advance of this we have launched our Age Positive campaign to encourage employers to employ workers of all ages. The campaign is raising employers' awareness of the business benefits that older workers can bring, as well as the benefits to older people of staying in the workforce.

The success of our New Deal 50 plus programme is also contributing to our wider campaign to tackle age discrimination. By the end of March this year over 98,000 people had moved into work with the help of New Deal 50 plus.

Since 1997 the employment rate of people between 50 and state pension age has risen from 65 per cent. in 1997 to 68 per cent. in 2002.

Miners' Pension Funds

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had with the trustees of the miners' pension funds. [118025]

Maria Eagle: The Miners' Pension Fund is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. I have not had any recent discussions with the trustees of the fund.

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Benefit Administration (Funding)

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will make a statement on the means by which the administration of (a) housing and (b) council tax benefit by local authorities is funded; [94004]

Malcolm Wicks [pursuant to his answer, 3 April 2003, Official Report, c. 835–37W]: Half of the administration subsidy for both housing benefit and council tax benefit is funded through a grant from the Department for Work and Pensions. This is allocated to individual local authorities using a formula agreed in consultation with the local authority associations. The formula takes account of the size of the caseload and the complexity of housing benefit cases, with elements for accommodation and staffing costs. The remaining half is funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Executive through the Revenue Support Grant (Grant Aided Expenditure in Scotland) within their local government finance settlements.

From 2003–04, administration subsidy will be paid entirely by this Department as one direct grant to local authorities. During 2003–04, we will also distribute an additional £33 million for on-going and transitional costs associated with the introduction of the pension credit as well as £11 million for on-going costs associated with new tax credits.

The Department also helps fund the administration of the Verification Framework and payments are made through the Help Fund to support various local authority led initiatives aimed at improving housing benefit administration where lack of funds is a barrier. A further £223 million Verification Framework funding is being made available for the three years from April 2003. This will provide a 50 per cent. increase in both set-up and on-going funding. We are also investing £200 million over the next three years in helping authorities meet the new Performance Standards.

Actual expenditure on the administration of these benefits, as reported by local authorities, exceeds the total subsidy provided by central Government. Local authorities account for their expenditure in very different ways. For example, some will include a portion of central charges for administrative costs that will have little to do with housing benefit administration in their housing benefit costs. Some will provide a cost net of additional grants from the Department. Because the data reported by authorities do not reflect a uniform accounting standard across authorities, reported expenditure across all authorities may not be directly comparable with the grants paid figures.

The information available is in the tables.

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DWP Administration Subsidy and Caseload

Housing benefit administration initial allocation (£ million)Average housing benefit caseloadCouncil tax administration initial allocation (£ million)Average council tax benefit caseloadAdditional in year payments (£ million)


1. Caseload data refer to households claiming housing benefit, which may be a single person, a couple or a family. More than one benefit household can live in one property, for example, two or more adults in a flat or house share.

2. Caseload figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated.

3. Council tax benefit caseload totals exclude any second adult rebate cases.

4. Housing benefit caseload figures exclude any extended payment cases.

5. The data are the average of caseloads taken in May, August, November and February of each year.

6. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £100,000.

7. Additional payments have been made to cover policy and procedural changes for both housing benefit and council tax benefit administration.

8. Additional in-year payments were made towards administration of procedural changes.


1. Social Security Income Related Benefits (Subsidy to Authorities) Amendment Orders 1999 to 2002.

2. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in May, August, November and February 1998–99 to 2001–02.

DWP Expenditure on Anti-fraud Initiatives, the Verification Framework and the Help Fund
£ million

Challenge fundingBenefits agency/local authority joint working paymentsSecurity against fraud and error (SAFE) and weekly benefit savings (WBS) Verification frameworkHelp Fund


1. Although not specifically for administration, local authorities are given financial incentives for investigating and detecting fraud.

2. Challenge Funding was a scheme where councils could submit bids for innovative anti-fraud initiatives.

3. The Security Against Fraud and Error (SAFE) scheme was first introduced in April 2001 and fully replaced the Weekly Benefit Savings (WBS) scheme in April 2002.

4. SAFE and WBS figures are subject to revision by local authorities.

5. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £100,000.

6. The reduction in SAFE and WBS funding may be attributable to increased VF funding which may have led to a fall in the level of fraud entering the benefit system.


1. WBS and SAFE figures are from local authorities' audited final subsidy claims.

2. Challenge Funding and Joint Working Payment figures from 1998–99 to 2000–01 are from DSS/DWP Appropriation Accounts. 2001–02 figures are from DWP records.

3. VF data are from DWP administrative records.

4. Help Fund expenditure is in the Social Security Income Related Benefits (Subsidy to Authorities) Amendment Order 2002.

Reported Administrative Costs of Local Authorities in Great Britain

Housing benefit (£ million)Council tax benefit (£ million)Total (£ million)DWP funding as percentage of reported expenditure


1. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £100,000.

2. Figures are subject to revision by local authorities.


1. English authorities—reports to the ODPM, and its predecessors, using form RO4.

2. Welsh authorities—reports to the Welsh Assembly using form RO4. Prior to devolution, returns were made to the Welsh Office.

3. Scottish authorities—reports to the Scottish Executive using Local Financial Return LFR9. Prior to devolution, returns were made to the Scottish Office.

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Benefit Claims

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average duration of benefit claims was for each of the major benefits administered by his Department and its predecessors in each of the last 30 years. [110765]

Malcolm Wicks: The available information has been placed in the Library.


Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average period of delay

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was in cases where compensation was paid for delays in processing retirement pension in each year since 1997; and in how many cases the delay for which compensation was paid did not breach the indicator of delay. [115487]

Maria Eagle: The information requested is not available.

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