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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1100W—continued

Payment Modernisation Project

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the document, Payment Modernisation Project, sent to field directors on 7 October by Mr. Alan Linton of Jobcentre Plus; [141420]

Mr. Pond: The document has already been widely circulated to hon. Members-it is now placed in the Library as requested.

The Department has a published PSA target that by 2005 85 per cent. of customers will have their benefits paid by Direct Payment.

The primary purpose of this document was to act as a reminder to staff of the need to ensure that new Jobcentre Plus customers are paid by Direct Payment from the outset of their claim. The document was designed to equip staff with the factual information they need to provide to customers, in order for customers themselves to choose the account which best meets their needs and circumstances.

Pension Credit

Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of those in receipt of pension credit were not formerly receiving pensioners minimum income guarantee. [143361]

Malcolm Wicks: As at 30 November 2003 there were 302,000 Pension Credit households in Great Britain who were not formerly receiving the Minimum Income Guarantee.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate he has made of the number of individuals who are eligible for pension credit; how many individuals receive pension credit in each region; and if he will make a statement. [143377]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available in the format requested. Information available as at the end of November, 2003 is set out in the following table.

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Numbers eligible and receipt of pension credit by region

Government Office RegionEstimated number of households eligible for pension creditPension credit recipients
North East250,000125,000
North West500,000281,000
Yorkshire and the Humber350,000200,000
East Midlands300,000141,000
West Midlands350,000213,000
South East350,000205,000
South West300,000174,000


1. Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand.

2. Figures are based on Generalised Matching Service (CMS) data.

3. Figures extracted weekend of 14/11/03 but rated up to give an estimated figure at end-November. Using end-November GMS data does not change the figures when rounding to the nearest thousand.

4. Figures are for geographic Government Office Region (GOR) which is consistent with the Family Resource Survey, i.e. recipients have been assigned to a GOR according to where they live.

5. Regional figures released in the December Progress Report published on 10 December are based on operational GORs.


IAD Information Centre, 100 per cent. sample

Sir Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of how much (a) single pensioners aged between 60 and 64, (b) single pensioners aged over 65, (c) pensioner couples aged between 60 and 65 and (d) pensioner couples aged over 65 will (i) receive and (ii) gain on average each week under the pension credit in each (A) constituency and (B) local authority area in Scotland. [143717]

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

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what change there will be in the number of pensioner households and individuals who will qualify for pension credit in April 2004 as a result of the minimum income guarantee being increased in line with earnings while the savings threshold rises in line with prices. [144778]

Malcolm Wicks: We estimate that around 50,000 households will become newly entitled to pension credit in April 2004 following the increase in the pension credit guarantee credit and savings credit threshold.

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what he estimates (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples will on average receive each week from pension credit in Stoke-on-Trent in 2003–04. [143878]

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Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

Weekly average amount of pension credit in payment at the end of November 2003

Local AuthorityAll Pension credit householdsPension credit householdsPension credit individuals


1. Figures are based on 100 per cent. Generalised Matching Service (CMS) data.

Data at 14 November 2003 has been rated up to give month end estimates.

2. Local Authorities are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.


IAD Information Centre, 100 per cent. sample

Pension Rights (Business Transfer)

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will include in the forthcoming Bill on company pensions proposals to assist employees whose pensions are affected by company take-over. [144969]

Malcolm Wicks: The Pensions Bill will include proposals to protect employees' on-going pension rights when affected by business transfer.

TUPE Regulations do not currently provide any protection for employees' on-going occupational pension rights when businesses transfer. However, proposed legislation will require transferee employers to provide transferred employees, who were in an occupational pension scheme with the transferor employer, with either a defined benefit, defined contribution or stakeholder pension scheme. In addition, if the transferee employer sets up a defined contribution or stakeholder scheme, they must match employees' contributions up to 6 per cent. with more from either party at their discretion.

The proposed debt on the employer regulations, published on 11 June 2003, will improve protection of employees' accrued rights if their scheme is wound up when their company is solvent. Legislation currently provides that, when a defined-benefit occupational pension scheme winds up, a deficiency in the pension fund becomes a debt on the employer. The proposed regulations will strengthen this protection by requiring that debt be calculated on the basis that a scheme wound up when the sponsoring employer is solvent should be able to meet the full costs of the rights accrued by scheme members.


John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much Progress2Work has cost to date. [143751]

Mr. Browne [holding answer 15 December 2003]: Progress2work is one of a number of initiatives we are introducing to provide more help to those who face the greatest barriers to employment. The programme is being implemented in three stages from April 2002; the third and final stage of awarding contracts will be completed by March 2004.

18 Dec 2003 : Column 1103W

To the end of November 2003, £9 million had been spent on contracted provision for Progress2work. This figure excludes departmental administrative costs, which are not separately identified from other departmental running costs.

Rent Service (Correspondence)

Sir Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library (a) copies of his Department's correspondence since November 2001 with the Chief Executive of the Rent Service and (b) copies of the Chief Executive of the Rent Service's correspondence with the Rent Service's area manager for London. [143723]

Mr. Pond: Correspondence between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Rent Service is exempt from disclosure under the code of Practice on Access to Government Information. Correspondence is largely of a confidential nature, under Part 2 paragraph 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, and to identify that correspondence which is not confidential would incur disproportionate cost.

Correspondence between the Chief Executive of the Rent Service's and the Rent Service's area manager for London is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister as the Rent Service is an executive agency of his Department.

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