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21 Jan 2004 : Column 1337Wcontinued
Malcolm Wicks: The six Care Direct pilots taking place in the south west will conclude at the end of March 2004. We are in the early stages of evaluating these pilots. This research is being done by the Personal Social Services Research Unit (University of Kent) and their report will inform a Lessons Learned document to be produced in April 2004.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed disability living allowance for the financial years (a) 200102 and (b) 200203, broken down by disability living allowance band. 
21 Jan 2004 : Column 1338W
Maria Eagle: People claim for disability living allowance as a whole rather than for any particular part of it. Figures for the total number of claims and the number of awards, broken down by particular components, are shown in the following table.
|Number of claims(49)||407.8||433.3|
|Higher Rate Care and Higher Mobility||36.7||38.0|
|Higher Rate Care Lower Rate Mobility||14.4||15.8|
|Higher Rate Care only||11.9||12.4|
|Middle Rate Care and Higher Rate Mobility||24.7||26.8|
|Middle Rate Care and Lower Rate Mobility||26.8||28.9|
|Middle Rate Care only||20.6||20.4|
|Lower Rate Care and Higher Rate Mobility||29.9||29.1|
|Lower Rate Care and Lower Rate Mobility||14.6||15.0|
|Lower Rate Care only||34.5||37.6|
|Higher Rate Mobility||29.1||31.0|
|Lower Rate Mobility||9.6||9.8|
The figures for the number of claims and the number of awards for each year are drawn from different sources and are not comparable.
Figures are in thousands and rounded to the nearest hundred.
A small number of people have more than one award in the year. These people are counted more than once as the table shows awards.
1. 100 per cent. MIS data. Figures are for financial years
2. IAD Information Centre, 5 per cent. sample. The figures are for the number of awards at May and are closest to the financial years.
Maria Eagle: The Disability and Carers Service acknowledges that the claiming process for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) needs to be simplified and has been running a number of initiatives designed to improve the service to customers.
A shorter DLA postal claim form based around the revised Attendance Allowance (AA) claim form introduced nationally on 6 October 2003 is being tested. The new DLA postal form has 23 pages and is considerably shorter than the existing claim form. The results from the first three full months of testing are currently being collated and a revised claim form is expected to be produced later this year.
Internet based claim forms for DLA and AA are also under development following the E claim form for Carers Allowance that was launched in December 2003. These should also be available later this year.
Since November 2002, a new interactive claiming process has been trialled in Glasgow Disability Benefits Centre. Customers who request a claim form by telephone are directed to a customer claim advisor who asks some preliminary questions to establish the broad basis of the claim. A tailored claim form is then produced by the computer system that supports the process and forwarded to the customer for completion.
21 Jan 2004 : Column 1339W
The form generated is a maximum of 18 pages, considerably shorter than the existing 47 page form. The results of this trial and the clerical claim form tests will inform the further modernisation of the processing of Disability Benefits.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many incapacity benefit appeal cases processed by the social security office in Dundee in the last year it has taken more than two months to reach a decision on whether to challenge appeal tribunal decisions; and what percentage of the total cases dealt with in that period this represents. 
Maria Eagle: During 2003 there were three cases dealt with by Dundee incapacity benefit section that took more than two months to decide whether to challenge the appeal tribunal decision. This represents 0.45 per cent. of the total cases dealt with by the section in 2003.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to re-consider the upper limit on the Independent Living Fund; and what implications this has for clients in need of highly complex care packages. 
Maria Eagle: Following the recommendations of the Quinquennial Review of the Independent Living Funds in December 2001 it was agreed that the upper limit should be reviewed by the trustees of the fund every two years. In April 2002 the limit was raised from £625 to £665 per week and the trustees are currently again reviewing the limit.
Local authorities have primary responsibility for community care provision and the Independent Living Funds supplement that role. Irrespective of the amount of the upper limit of Independent Living Funds assistance, local authorities can fund care for disabled people with high cost support packages.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the dismissal of 350 temporary staff by Jobcentre Plus London Region in February and March, with particular reference to the number who were re-employed by Jobcentre Plus within 13 weeks of their dismissal on (a) temporary contracts and (b) permanent contracts; and if he will make a statement on the reasons for their dismissal. 
21 Jan 2004 : Column 1340W
Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the equivalent thresholds to the absolute low income threshold of £210 per week for a couple with one child under 16 published in Measuring Child Poverty, of December 2003 are for (a) a couple with two children, (b) a couple with three children, (c) a couple with four children, (d) a lone parent with two children, (e) a lone parent with three children and (f) a lone parent with four children. 
Mr. Pond: To measure whether the poorest families are seeing their incomes rise in real terms, we will monitor the number of children living in families with incomes below a particular threshold, which is adjusted for inflation. The level for a couple with one child under 14 published in Measuring Child Poverty is fixed as equal to our absolute low income threshold for the baseline year of 199899 expressed in today's prices.
|Number of children under 14||£ per week|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest £1.
2. The £210 figure published in "Measuring child poverty" was rounded to the nearest £10. The amount for a couple with one child is presented here as £212, is rounded to the nearest £1 to allow clearer comparison to other family types.
3. Figures were arrived at using the current prices (mid year 200304) cash equivalent for these family types of the 199899 60 per cent. median income level, before housing costs and using the OECD Modified equalisation scale.
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