|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
18 Dec 2003 : Column 1092Wcontinued
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the beneficiary of a Child Trust Fund will have the savings in the fund taken into consideration when an assessment is made for Jobseeker's Allowance. 
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to reply to the letters from the honourable Member for Tatton to the Minister for Pensions of 12 March and 25 April. 
18 Dec 2003 : Column 1093W
Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) other Government Departments, (b) voluntary sector organisations and (c) local authorities on measures to improve take-up of council tax benefit among pensioners. 
Mr. Pond: There have been a number of discussions between officials of this Department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and representatives of the Local Authority Associations. In addition, Ministers have met with the Local Government Association and with Help the Aged, following their report on "The impact of council tax on older people's income".
On Monday 15 December 2003, we announced a campaign to further support local authorities in their statutory duty to promote take-up of council tax benefit. On the same day, departmental officials wrote about the campaign to the National Assembly for Wales and the Wales Office; the Scottish Executive and the Scotland Office; voluntary sector organisations and other advisory groups with an interest in take-up such as Help the Aged, Age Concern and Shelter; and Local Authority Associations.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's hospitality budget was for (a) 200304 and (b) each of the last six years; and if he will provide a breakdown of the expenditure by main budget heading. 
All expenditure on official hospitality is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting. It is typically incurred by the various DWP Businesses to mark the launch of significant initiativesfor example: the introduction of New Deal 50+; the national introduction of New Deal for Partners; launching call centres for jobseekers; implementation of Employment Zones; and launch of ONE pilots in conjunction with local authorities and the private and voluntary sectors.
The Department does not allocate specific budgets for official hospitality and it is not possible to provide expenditure information back to 199798 for the Department for Work and Pensions, which has existed only since 1 April 2001. The figures for 200102 and 200203 therefore are the only expenditure figures relating to the Department for Work and Pensions.
18 Dec 2003 : Column 1094W
In order to provide figures which are reasonably comparable, information for the earlier years has been provided by combining expenditure on "official hospitality" by the former Department of Social Security (DSS), and on "official entertainment" by the former Employment Service (ES) which, together with relatively small numbers of staff from the Employment Policy Divisions of the former Department for Education and Employment (DFEE), combined to form the new Department for Work and Pensions. However, the expenditure incurred by the Employment Policy Divisions of DFEE is not separately identifiable.
Outturn figures for 200304 will be available in spring 2004.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what checks the Government have in place continually to assess a person's eligibility for the disability living allowance in order to protect the system against fraudulent claims. 
Mr. Pond: The DLA Periodic Enquiry has introduced checks of Disability Living Allowance awards to ensure that those entitled to the benefit receive, and continue to receive, their correct entitlement, although it is not regarded primarily as an anti fraud measure.
The process involves gathering up-to-date evidence about the customer's care and mobility needs, and making adjustments to the award of the benefit where appropriate. Changes in awards may be appropriate for example where the customer's condition improves or worsens, or where they adapt to their disability and therefore have fewer needs. Since the inception of Periodic Enquiry, 70 per cent. of the cases examined have resulted in no change to entitlement. Of the 30 per cent. of cases where the level of entitlement changed, two thirds resulted in entitlement to a higher level of award and in the remaining one third of cases entitlement either reduced or was extinguished altogether.
Malcolm Wicks: From December 2002 to November 2003 a total of 21,806 emails were received from pensioners through our website. This figure does not include emails sent directly to The Pension Service Chief Executive's office, Ministers'offices, or other departmental email addresses that pensioners may have
18 Dec 2003 : Column 1095W
North East London;
Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Argyll and Bute;
Gateshead and South Tyneside;
The Employment Retention and Advancement Scheme will recruit customers for one year and the programme will run for three years. The programme will end in July 2007 except in Manchester where it will end in September 2007.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether claimants who have failed to respond to the Government's Direct Payment invitation letter before 2005 will be automatically transferred to the exceptions service; and what criteria will need to be met to qualify for the exceptions service. 
We have always recognised that there will be a small number of people who we cannot pay directly into an account. Our plan is to design an exceptions method of payment to properly meet the needs of customers in these circumstances. It is anticipated that it will be a cheque-based solution. Payment outlets will include Post Office branches. We are in the process of discussing the design of the exceptions method of payment with the representative bodies most directly affected.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|