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12 Feb 2004 : Column 1604W—continued

Pension Schemes

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what protection is afforded to workers

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who have lost their pension rights after their employer became insolvent under clause 8 of the EU Insolvency Directive. [153930]

Malcolm Wicks: As has been confirmed by the European Commission, we fully meet our obligations under Article 8 of the Insolvency Directive, as successive Governments have done since the Directive was adopted in 1980.

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Pensions Scheme Act 1993, the Redundancy Payments Directorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, makes insolvency payments from the National Insurance Fund (NIF) to qualifying former employees. The amounts payable from the NIF are subject to statutory upper limits. In addition, the Pensions Act 1995 requires salary-related schemes to meet the Minimum Funding Requirement (MFR), and provides for a statutory priority order for the distribution of a scheme's assets if a scheme that is required to meet the MFR winds up.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what obligations are placed on actuaries or trustees who are winding-up pension schemes to pay the guaranteed minimum pension. [153787]

Malcolm Wicks: Where a scheme is winding up the trustees will need to realise the assets of the scheme, pay its outstanding debts and expenses and take steps to secure the benefits of scheme members—including members' Guaranteed Minimum Pensions (GMPs).

The assets must be applied in the order set out in scheme rules, or where the scheme is salary-related and subject to the Minimum Funding Requirement, in accordance with the statutory priority order in Section 73 of the Pensions Act 1995. After meeting scheme expenses and debts to third parties, the current (transitional) priority order is Additional Voluntary Contributions, then pensions in payment, followed by accrued contracted-out rights (including GMP), pension increases and finally non-contracted out rights.

If there are insufficient assets to satisfy all of the liabilities in a particular category of the priority order then the liabilities in that category must be satisfied proportionately.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate public expenditure on the state second pension in each year from 2006–07 to 2015–16 based on (a) present policies and (b) no new state second pension entitlement being accrued in respect of contributions made from 2005–06 onwards. [154870]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is set out in the following table.

Projected expenditure on the state second pension based on (a) current policies and (b) if accruals were to cease from April 2005 onwards—£ billion, 2003–04 price terms

(a)(b)
2006–070.30.2
2007–080.40.3
2008–090.60.4
2009–100.80.5
2010–111.00.6
2011–121.20.7
2012–131.40.8
2013–141.70.8
2014–151.90.9
2015–162.21.0

Notes:

1. The projected expenditure to pensioners shown above does not allow for (i) expenditure on state second pension paid alongside bereavement benefits to those below state pension age, (ii) expenditure on contracted-out rebates, or (iii) any effects on income-related benefit expenditure of the various policies considered.

2. The projected expenditure has been calculated on a consistent basis to that used for the projections in the Quinquennial Review of the National Insurance Fund as at April 2000 (Cm 6008), assuming real earnings growth of 2 per cent. a year. No allowance has been made for the effects of the most recent (2002-based) population projections, or any other information which has become available since the results underlying the Quinquennial Review were prepared.

3. The projected expenditure relates to the GB National Insurance Fund (Northern Ireland has a separate Fund).


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"Riding the Benefits Rollercoaster"

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will respond to the Citizens Advice Scotland Report, "Riding the Benefits Rollercoaster"; and if he will make a statement. [153797]

Mr. Pond [holding answer 9 February 2004]: We recognise the valuable work of Citizens Advice Scotland and will take account of the findings in their report, "Riding the Benefits Roller-coaster", in monitoring and developing relevant policies and practices.

We have no plans to respond formally; however, my hon. Friend the Minister for Disabled People responded to many of the points raised by the report in a recent debate in Westminster Hall, 3 February 2004, Official Report, columns 208–29WH.

Stakeholder Pension Scheme

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set out the circumstances in which voluntary contributions to a stakeholder pension scheme are treated as voluntary deprivation of capital for the purposes of Income Support; and if he will make a statement. [150876]

Mr. Pond [holding answer 26 January 2004]: If a person makes a voluntary contribution of capital to a stakeholder pension with the intention of securing or increasing entitlement to Income Support, he may be considered to have deprived himself of that capital. Decisions are based on the particular circumstances of each case and there is a right of appeal against an unfavourable decision.

Train Travel

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he last used a train in connection with his ministerial duties. [155162]

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Mr. Andrew Smith: I last used the train, in connection with my ministerial duties, on 13 January 2004, when I travelled from London to Bradford and back.

All ministerial travel on official business is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in Travel by Ministers.

Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claims under the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979 were made in each year since 2000; and how many were successful. [153856]

Maria Eagle: The numbers of claims made under the Act are set out in the table.

YearClaims ReceivedClaims Successful
20001711
20011762
2002(8)4068
20031830

(8) The figure for 2002 is so much higher than other years as a result of the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) passed in June, extending the time limits for claiming and reducing the disability threshold. The order made provision for past claimants who had been turned down on the conditions revised by the RRO to make a further claim. 571 such cases were identified and, to date 334 such claims have been received.


Welfare Modernisation Fund

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to note 9, page 25 of the report by the Government Actuary on the drafts of the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2004 (Cm 6117), how much the one-off payment to the Welfare Modernisation Fund was; and if he will make a statement. [154830]

Mr. Browne: The report by the Government Actuary on the drafts of the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2004 (Cm 6117) refers to recoveries by the Department for Work and Pensions from the National Insurance Fund for the administrative cost of national insurance benefits. These costs include expenditure on modernising the Department's infrastructure, provided by the Welfare Modernisation Fund. The amount secured by the Department through the spending review for the Welfare Modernisation Fund in 2003–04 was £680 million. Of this some £63 million was recovered from the National Insurance Fund for modernisation. These recoveries will continue over the life of the Department's modernisation programme.

Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have received winter fuel payments in (a) the Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) Tyne and Wear, (d) the north-east and (e) the UK in respect of 2003–04; and what the value of such payments is in each case. [153227]

Malcolm Wicks: Information on individual constituencies for 2003–04 will not be available until this winter's exercise is complete but will be provided to the hon. Member and placed in the Library when it becomes available.

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To date, there have been 11,606,326 winter fuel payments made to UK residents for the winter 2003–04 at a cost of £1,937,989,500.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have received winter fuel payments in (a) the North West, (b) Lancashire and (c) Chorley in each of the last three years; and what the value of such payment was in each case. [153841]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the table.

RegionNumber of PaymentsValue(£)
Winter 2002–03
North West1,349,470204,173,800
Lancashire236,99035,227,700
Chorley18,6252,754,700
Winter 2001–02
North West1,336,465202,163,500
Lancashire233,02534,601,400
Chorley18,1252,676,800
Winter 2000–01
North West1,327,910200,923,000
Lancashire229,88034,120,300
Chorley17,6302,606,300

Note:

Numbers are rounded to the nearest 5.

Source:

IAD Information Centre, 100 per cent. sample



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