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29 Mar 2004 : Column 1243Wcontinued
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will amend the regulations for the Child Support Agency so that payments given by firms to staff to enable them to obtain a car for company business are excluded as income when calculating maintenance payments; and if he will make a statement; 
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total expenditure on communications for his Department has been in 200304, broken down by expenditure on (a) Government Information and Communication Service staff and (b) other staff, broken down by (i) press officers, (ii) special advisers and (iii) others. 
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"Others" includes all staff working in the Communications teams of DWP, Jobcentre Plus, The Pension Service, Child Support Agency; The Appeals Service and Human Resources. Their work includes: marketing (national and regional); media relations; internal communications; communication standards; information services, ie the Library, Public Enquiry Office and Knowledge Management team; intranet; internet; Planning and Finance and other support staff).
The figures are based on average monthly salary costs for staff working in recognised communication functions. The figures do not cover all of the support staff working to communication staff in the regions as this exact figure is not known. More precise figures are not possible as not all of this information is held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he had with the European Commission concerning his proposals on the application of the benefit system to citizens of EU accession states working in the UK from 1 May onwards. 
Mr. Pond: There have been no discussions with the EU Commission regarding the application of the benefit system to EU accession state nationals. Each member state is responsible for its own social security legislation and there is no requirement for Ministers to discuss changes with the commission.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2004, Official Report, columns 58485W, on EU accession countries, when legislation will be brought forward on the arrangements governing the entitlement to benefits of citizens of EU accession states; whether it will be primary legislation; and whether such legislation will apply to citizens of EU accession states who are in legal employment in the UK prior to 1 May; 
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(3) pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2004, Official Report, columns 58485W, on EU accession countries, whether citizens of EU accession states will be entitled to claim (a) tax credits and child benefit and (b) housing benefit and council tax benefit if they are on low income, from the commencement of their legal employment in the UK. 
Mr. Pond: We intend to lay regulations before Parliament prior to 1 May that will make it a requirement for nationals of Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia to have the right to reside in the UK in order to claim income-related benefits.
The Home Office will bring forward regulations shortly, regulating access to the UK labour market for EU accession state nationals, which will set out the circumstances under which they will be defined as legally working in the UK.
Workers from the EU accession states who are working legally in the UK may, subject to the normal rules, be eligible for housing benefit, council tax benefit, child benefit and tax credits from the start of their legal employment in the UK.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what grants were awarded to (a) Lancashire and (b) Chorley by his Department in each of the last three years that fall outside the revenue support grant. 
Mr. Pond: The Department for Work and Pensions pays grants to individual local authorities, rather than the county, therefore there are no figures of funding paid to Lancashire. However, the following table shows
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payments made in respect of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit administration to all the local authorities within Lancashire, including Chorley.
|Authority||Housing Benefit||Council Tax Benefit|
|Blackburn with Darwen||240,595||247,123|
|Authority||Housing Benefit||Council Tax Benefit||Pension Credit/New Tax Credit Set-up|
|Blackburn with Darwen||331,141||253,899||69,435|
|Authority||Housing Benefit||Council Tax Benefit||New Tax Credit||Pension Credit||New Tax Credit-special provision||Pension Credit Set-up|
|Blackburn with Darwen||671,852||493,065||36,851||80,123||10,050||15,841|
|Ribble Valley||70,656||68,923||4,419||15,535||1 ,205||4,100|
Prior to 200304, the Department for Work and Pensions distributed half of the available grant for administration costs for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit. The other half was distributed by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Executive. From 200304 these two elements were brought together, with DWP distributing the total amount of the grant.
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The Performance Standards describe action needed to administer Housing Benefit effectively and securely, and address all aspects of administration. A three year fund of £200 million has been available since April 2003 to help local authorities achieve these standards. The Performance Standards Fund provides substantial help through, for example, investment in recruitment, training and better IT. 254 local authorities have already benefited from the first awards which are worth a total of £47 million. The local authorities range from small districts to large metropolitan councils across England, Scotland and Wales.
|Blackburn with Darwen||||119,488|
In 200102 a Help Fund award of £132,114.00 was made to Pendle, the lead authority for the Lancashire Benefits Consortium. This was a multiple bid with the following authorities: Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Wyre.
In 200203, Help Fund awards were made to Blackpool of £29,554.40 (this was for two separate bids, one of £3,554.40, and one of £26,000.00), Lancaster was awarded £28,500.00, and Pendle was awarded £35,000.00 (this was a single authority bid).
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