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9 Jun 2003 : Column 709W—continued

Demography (Greater London)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of the working population within the Greater London area is over 50 years of age. [116706]

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 Mr. Cox dated 3 June 2003:



Disability Bill

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to publish the draft Disability Bill; and what areas it will cover. [116464]

Maria Eagle: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, announced on 22 January his intention to publish a draft Disability Bill later in 2003. The draft Bill, which will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny, is still being developed and its exact scope has yet to be finalised. However, measures in it will include proposals that the Government outlined in "Towards Inclusion", our response to the Disability Rights Task Force. Those being considered include: extending the DDA definition of disability to more people with HIV and cancer; introducing a duty on public bodies concerning equalisation of opportunities for disabled people; extending duties under Part 3 of the DDA in such areas as the function of public bodies, transport operators and premises; and covering membership of larger private clubs.

Female Pensioners

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which proposals in the recent Pensions Green Paper are designed to help female pensioners. [117289]

Maria Eagle: The Green Paper proposals will help women and men of working age to plan and save for the retirement they want in the future.

Today's pensioners are on average £1,250 a year better off, thanks to measures taken by the Government. Today's poorest pensioners—usually women are £1,600 a year better off.

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Incapacity Benefit

David Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made on the Pathways to Work incapacity benefit reform pilots he announced last year. [117301]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Green Paper "Pathways to Work" set out a strategy for enabling people with health problems and disabilities to move into work. Our response to the consultation will set out the recommendations we intend to take forward, together with our plans for implementing the pilots.

I recognise that my hon. Friend has a particular interest here as one of the pilot areas falls within his constituency. This provides a great opportunity for the community he represents, and I can confirm that excellent progress is being made in establishing that pilot.

Pension Provision (Foster Carers)

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on Government plans to assist for foster carers with pension provision. [116803]

Maria Eagle: Regulations will be laid before Parliament shortly that will extend home responsibilities protection to registered foster carers, so that those years of caring count towards reducing the number of qualifying years needed to obtain a full basic State Pension.

Pension Service

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the new Pension Service. [114870]

Maria Eagle: The Pension Service was launched to provide a service focused on the needs of pensioners. To date the service has opened 25 of its planned 26 new centres across the country and continues to deliver services through an International and two National pension centres at Newcastle.

In addition, last month, The Pension Service launched the Pension Credit Application Line to support early applications for Pension Credit which is payable from October 2003.

The Pension Service has also implemented a local service, now operating in all regions of England, Scotland and Wales, and is working in partnership with many other organisations dealing with pensioners such as local authorities and voluntary sector organisations.

The local service will play a vital role in promoting Pension Credit, providing advice and information to partners, and working with them to help target customers who need additional help in taking up their entitlements, such as ethnic minority or housebound customers, and those with disabilities.

Further information on The Pension Service targets and standards can be found in the Department for Work and Pensions Departmental Report 2002–03 published

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15 May 2003 and The Pension Service Business Plan 2003–04 published 14 April 2003. Both documents are available in the Library.

Personal Capability Assessments

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many appeals against decisions made at personal capability assessments were (a) heard and (b) decided in the appellant's favour in (i) 2002 and (ii) each month of 2003; what proportion of the total appeals heard were successful in (A) 2002 and (B) each month in 2003, broken down by benefit; what the average length of time between lodging an appeal against a personal capability assessment decision and having that appeal heard was in (1) 2002 and (2) each month of 2003; and if he will make a statement. [114469]

Maria Eagle: This is a matter for Christina Townsend, Chief Executive of the Appeals Service. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Christina Townsend to Paul Holmes dated 6 June 2003:




Unemployment (Haltemprice and Howden)

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were unemployed in Haltemprice and Howden in (a) the last month for which figures are available and (b) each of the preceding 12 months. [116767]

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 John Pullinger to David Davis of 3 June 2003:




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Number of JSA claimants in Haltemprice and Howden Parliamentary Constituency

Not seasonally adjusted
2002:
April781
May763
June754
July809
August796
September768
October757
November753
December740
2003:
January799
February797
March784
April745

Source:Jobcenter Plus administrative system


Winter Allowance

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of people aged 80 years and over in (a) Leeds Metropolitan District and (b) the Leeds, West constituency who will receive the increased winter allowance of £300. [116012]

Maria Eagle: We estimate that some 30,000 people in Leeds local authority area and around 3,000 in Leeds West constituency could be entitled to the extra payment announced by the Chancellor.


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