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15 Dec 2003 : Column 691Wcontinued
(3) if he will make a statement on the future use by the Department of the former jobcentre premises at 187199 West Street, Fareham. 
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small gifts of cash to relatives under the age of 18 will be exempted from the Pension Credit and Income Support deprivation of capital requirements. 
Malcolm Wicks: As with all the income related benefits, someone may be treated as having capital they do not actually have if they deliberately deprive themselves of the resource to secure or increase entitlement to Pension Credit, but it is not necessarily the case that they will be. The main purpose of this is to guard against people giving away capital with the intention of increasing benefit entitlement.
In addition, in Pension Credit people will not be treated as depriving themselves of capital if they have used their resources to reduce or repay a debt (for example, a mortgage), or to buy something which was reasonable in their circumstances (for example, a car). This is part of normal financial planning which people age 60 and over may undertake, particularly on retirement.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what steps the Government have taken since May 1997 to ensure that members of final salary pension schemes were made aware of risks to their accrued pension rights upon employer insolvency and scheme wind-up; 
Malcolm Wicks: The Government encourage anyone considering joining or leaving a pension scheme to obtain as much information as possible about the options open to them and to seek independent financial advice. As well as highlighting further sources of information, leaflets published by the Pensions Service provide basic information on occupational pensions for people to use as they decide the best way in which to provide for their retirement. Similar information aimed at pension providers is published by the Inland Revenue.
Occupational pension schemes are provided voluntarily by employers and the trustees are required as a minimum to make funding information available to members as part of the annual report. It is the responsibility of employers and scheme trustees to monitor how scheme assets compare with scheme liabilities and take whatever action is required to address any funding shortfall, working within the legislative framework provided by the Government. To reduce the risks to members' accrued pension rights as a consequence of employer insolvency, the Government is introducing the new Pension Protection Fund. The introduction of new scheme-specific funding requirements will raise member awareness and understanding by requiring that trustees send regularly updated information to scheme members each year, containing key information about the funding position of their scheme.
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Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average cost was in 200203 of housing benefit payments made to (a) council tenants, (b) tenants of registered social landlords and (c) private tenants. 
|Tenure||Average weekly housing benefit (£)|
|Registered social landlord||63.90|
|Private (excluding registered social landlord)||71.40|
1. The data refers to benefit households claiming housing benefit, which may be a single person or 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 arrangement.
2. The average amounts have been rounded to the nearest 10 pence.
3. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated.
4. Figures exclude any Extended Payment cases.
5. The figures are averages taken from the four quarters May, August, November 2002 and February 2003.
Housing benefit and council tax benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in May, August, November 2002 and February 2003.
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest £10 million
2. The income support figure is for income support paid to people under 60 years of age. Persons over 60 years of age were paid the minimum income guarantee
In-year Monitoring of Benefit Expenditure Reports
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Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer the letter from the hon. Member for Isle of Wight of 14 October 2003 about Jobcentre Plus jobs on the Isle of Wight. 
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobseeker's Allowance claimants are signed up for further education courses for less than 16 hours; and what plans he has to extend the hours of coursework acceptable within his Department's guidelines. 
Mr. Browne [holding answer 9 December 2003]: Information about the number of jobseekers who are engaged in part-time courses for less than 16 hours a week is not routinely collected and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
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People in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance can undertake part-time learning provided they are available for and actively seeking work and have a valid Jobseeker's Agreement which takes their learning into consideration. We have no plans to extend the number of hours that are regarded as part-time learning.
The Social Security system is not intended to finance educationthis is a matter for the educational authorities and the Department for Education and Skills. Most students engaged in full-time education are not entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance.
Jobcentre Plus has a wide range of programmes, such as the New Deals and Work Based Learning for Adults (in England), to help jobseekers gain the skills they need to help them find work. For people who wish to pursue full-time learning, there are various Adult Learning funding options available through the Department for Education and Skills.
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