|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
20 Jan 2004 : Column 1174Wcontinued
20 Jan 2004 : Column 1175W
Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons her Department does not include printer cartridges in the implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. 
Mr. Timms: The Government have always considered printer cartridges as consumables and this interpretation has been confirmed by the Department's lawyers. The WEEE Directive only applies to whole products placed on the market and not to individual components, sub-assemblies or consumables.
Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of abolishing the rule on freezing state pensions for those citizens entitled to state pensions who reside in countries for which the United Kingdom has an aid programme; and if he will make a statement; 
However, there were 60,000 recipients of a frozen UK State Pension in the twenty countries receiving the largest amount of UK bilateral aid in 200203. The cost of now paying those frozen pensions, using the April 2004 rates, would be around £40 million, with ongoing costs of £40million per annum and rising in future years.
The UK State Pension is uprated in countries with which the UK has a reciprocal social security agreement or where there is a legal requirement to do so. The Government are focusing their resources on helping poorer pensioners in the UK and have no plans to unfreeze UK State Pensions paid overseas.
20 Jan 2004 : Column 1176W
The average income support award to pensioners in Warrington, North was £37.36 in August 1998, when 2,200 pensioner households were receiving income support. Under Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG), which was introduced in April 1999, there were 2,800 pensioner households in Warrington, North receiving an average of £44.29 a week in MIG in August 2003.
Following the introduction of Pension Credit in October 2003, some elements of the support previously provided through MIG are now provided through local authority funding for people in care homes, and through tax credits for children. In addition, average Pension Credit awards are expected to be lower than MIG because a savings credit of up to £14.79 (single) or £19.20 (couples) is available for people with modest incomes above the guarantee level who previously received nothing from MIG.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many properties were inspected by the Health and Safety Executive in connection with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in the last 12 months; what steps his Department has taken to promote awareness of the problem; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Browne: For the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003, the latest period for which we have a full year's figure, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated 86 carbon monoxide (CO) incidents. This figure is provisional.
Measures being taken to promote awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning include the annual winter gas safety awareness campaign overseen by HSE, which this year is targeting students and other first-time renters, elderly people and parents of young children.
20 Jan 2004 : Column 1177W
HSE's gas safety website contains information on the causes and symptoms of CO, and what to do if poisoning is suspected. This website is currently being upgraded to provide links to other relevant organizations, and access to videos giving detailed information on carbon monoxide poisoning and personal statements from sufferers.
HSE produces free leaflets on gas safety both for general consumers and landlords, including information on carbon monoxide, in twelve community languages as well as English. These are also available on the HSE website.
HSE also operates a Gas Safety Advice line providing free advice to callers. Additionally, where possible, HSE officials actively participate in awareness-raising events run by other organizations such as local community groups when called upon to do so.
During 2003, HSE's gas publicity Working Group examined the feasibility of a carbon monoxide awareness campaign to be voluntarily funded by the gas industry. In September HSE hosted a meeting seeking support for this initiative from the six main gas supply companies. The industry players have committed to produce an agreed strategy plan, which should be implemented this year. The level of funding, although not yet finalized, will be in the region of £3 million a year for a period of seven years to be evaluated after three years.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions the Department has made compensation payments to Electronic Data Systems as a result of contractual changes to the Child Support Agency Reforms information technology project; and what the value was of each of those payments. 
Mr. Pond: The Department has not made any compensation payments to EDS. As announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 27 January 2003, Official Report, columns 56468, the Department has previously agreed an increase of around 7 per cent. in the value of the original contract, over its term. This increase reflected that the IT system had proved to be more complex than had been thought at the outset, something not uncommon in large scale IT systems.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the impact of his Department's policies in Regent's Park and Kensington, North constituency since 1997. 
Mr. Browne: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001; since then, we have undertaken a fundamental overhaul of the welfare system, transforming it from a passive organisation paying out benefits to an active system that fights poverty, creates opportunity and helps people become self-sufficient and independent.
20 Jan 2004 : Column 1178W
We are making a significant contribution to the Government's objective of eradicating child poverty in 20 years and halving it within 10, and there are now half a million fewer children in relative low income than there were in 1997. Child Benefit is now worth £16.05 a week for the eldest child, compared to only £11.40 in 1997, benefiting 13,385 families in Regent's Park and Kensington, North.
Through Jobcentre Plus, we are promoting work as the best form of welfare for people of working age. The number of people in work is at historically high levels of over 28.15 million; in Regent's Park and Kensington, North, the proportion in employment has risen to 62.3 per cent. Our New Deals have helped lone parents, the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed, disabled people, the over 50s and partners of the unemployed to move from benefit into work. Nationally over 950,000 people have been helped into work by the New Deals, and over 2,200 have been helped into work in Regent's Park and Kensington, North.
We want all pensioners to have a decent and secure income in retirement and to share fairly in the rising prosperity of the country, and our first priority has been to help the poorest pensioners. The Government will be spending an extra £9.2bn in 2004/5 (in 200304 prices) on pensioners as a result of measures introduced since 1997, including around 4.3 billion on the poorest third of pensioners. Our reforms include the State Second Pension, which helps more of tomorrow's pensioners build up better pensions.
Pension Credit, introduced from October 2003, provides a contribution to a guaranteed minimum income for those aged 60 and over and, for the first time, those over aged 65 and over may be rewarded for modest savings and income. Around 5,900 pensioner households in Regent's Park and Kensington, North are already benefiting from Pension Credit, with an average award of £70.33 per week.
Our reforms include the State Second Pension, which helps more of tomorrow's pensioners build up better pensions. Pension Credit, introduced from October 2003, provides a contribution to a guaranteed minimum income for those aged 60 and over and, for the first time, those over aged 65 and over may be rewarded for modest savings and income. Around 5,900 pensioner households in Regent's Park and Kensington, North are already benefiting from Pension Credit, with an average award of £70.33 per week.
We know that older people are disproportionately affected by fuel poverty, and this winter (200304) we have made available a Winter Fuel Payment of £200 for each eligible household to help with their fuel bills. In addition, the introduction of the 80+Annual Payment gives an extra £100 to households where there is someone aged 80 or over. We estimate that around 17,000 older people in Regent's Park and Kensington, North have received a payment this winter.
Some 14,000 pensioners in Regent's Park and Kensington, North benefited from the above inflation increase in the rate of basic state pension from April 2003. Those over 75, of whom we estimate there are about 6,300 in Regent's Park and Kensington, North may also qualify for free TV licences.
20 Jan 2004 : Column 1179W
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|