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17 Nov 2004 : Column 1654W—continued

Departmental Salaries

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in his Department earn more than a whole-time equivalent salary of £57,485 per year. [195285]

Maria Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office, on 11 November 2004, Official Report, vol. 426, column 856W.

In addition to the figures quoted in that reply, 58 members of staff in Jobcentre Plus earn in excess of the whole-time equivalent salary of £57,485 per year.

Disabled Workers

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures have been introduced to improve the working rights and conditions of disabled people in Newcastle-under-Lyme since 1997. [198578]

Maria Eagle: Since 1997, the Government have increased the nature and scope of the protection from discrimination afforded by the employment provisions
17 Nov 2004 : Column 1655W
of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and it has improved financial support for disabled people in work.

In April 2000 we established the Disability Rights Commission which monitors, advises on, and can assist in the enforcement of rights under, the DDA.

The small-employer threshold below which an employer had no duties under the employment provisions of the DDA was reduced from 20 to 15 employees in December 1998, and on 1 October 2004 was abolished completely. The abolition of the threshold brought 7 million further jobs within the protection of the DDA.

A range of further enhancements to the protection provided by the employment provisions of the DDA also came into effect from 1 October 2004. Previously exempted occupations, including police officers, fire fighters, prison officers, workers on ships, hovercraft and aircraft, barristers and partners in business partnerships are now covered. Other changes have specifically outlawed harassment because of disability, and ensured that direct discrimination can no longer be justified. Duties were also extended to cover qualifications bodies and people undertaking practical work experience.

Access to Work provides practical advice and support to disabled people and their employers to help overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability. Since 1997–98 there have been year on year increases in both the numbers helped and the programme spend. In 2003–04 we helped around 35,000 people, with a total spend of £56 million.

Since April 2003, financial support has been available to disabled people in work through the working tax credit. This is available if a person is working an average of at least 16 hours per week (self-employed or for an employer) and has a disability which puts them at a disadvantage in getting a job. 80,000 families benefit from the disability element of the credit.

The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and its Executive (HSE) have continued to work to improve levels of protection from risks to health, safety and welfare at work for all people, including those who are disabled. It has done so by enforcing a framework of regulations that:

Although not aimed specifically at disabled people, HSE has extended the range of sources of advice on compliance with these requirements through such measures as its publications, its Infoline and through visits to, and targeted inspections of, workplaces including those in the Newcastle-under-Lyme area.

Free Television Licences

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of providing free television licences to pensioner households was in 2003–04. [198391]

Estelle Morris: I have been asked to reply.
17 Nov 2004 : Column 1656W

Free television licences are available only to people aged 75 or over. The cost of providing free television licences in 2003–04 was £408 million.

Health and Safety Executive

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what strategic changes are occurring in the Health and Safety Executive; and if he will make a statement. [198238]

Jane Kennedy: In February 2004 the Health and Safety Commission launched a new strategy "A strategy for workplace health and safety in Great Britain to 2010 and beyond". A copy is available in the Library

The Health and Safety Executive have set out how they intend to take forward the strategy in their 2004–05 business plan. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new incapacity benefit claimants in each year since 1997 were (a) claiming statutory sick pay, (b) claiming unemployment benefits and (c) were self-employed. [195810]

Maria Eagle: The available information is in the table.
Commencements of Incapacity Benefit (IB), and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) claims.

Period All IB/SDAStatutory sick pay prior IB/SDA claim Unemployed prior to IB/SDA claimSelf-employed prior to IB/SDA claim
April 1997–
March 1998
April 1998–
March 1999
April 1999–
March 2000
Apr 2000–
March 2001
April 2001–
March 2002
June 2002–
May 2003
June 2003–
May 2004

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
2. SSP information is not available from 5 per cent. sampling, and therefore not available from June 2002.
3. Figures from June 2002 have been updated to include late notified commencements and may be subject to further change.
4. Figures for the latest quarter do not include any late notifications and are subject to major changes in future quarters (For illustration purposes, total commencements for May 2003 increased by 19 per cent. in the year following their initial release)
5. SDA is not available to new claimants from 6 April 2001. From this point, disabled people, whose period of incapacity begins before the age of 20 (or 25 if in education or training before the age of 20), may be able to receive incapacity benefit without having to satisfy the national insurance contribution conditions. Existing recipients can continue to receive the benefit for as long as they satisfy the conditions of entitlement for the benefit.
IAD Information Centre, 1 per cent. samples to 31 Mar 2002 and 5 per cent. samples thereafter.

17 Nov 2004 : Column 1657W

Income Support

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents have been in receipt of income support in each year since 2001; and how many of these have attended work-focused interviews in each year. [196516]

Mr. Pond: Work-focused interviews are conducted nationally for all lone parents making a new or repeat claim to income support. Additionally, work-focused interviews for existing customers are being rolled out gradually between April 2001 and October 2005.

Information on the number of lone parents on income support and the total number of work-focused interviews attended in each year since 2001 up to the end of July 2004 is in the table.
Lone parents on income supportLone parent work-focused interviews

1. Lone parent income support figures are based on 5 per cent. samples and are therefore subject to sampling variation.
2. Lone parent income support figures are provided at May each year and have been rounded to the nearest hundred.
3. Lone parents are defined as single parents aged under 60 and not in receipt of a disability premium.
4. Lone parent work-focused interview figures are based on the information on the Jobcentre Plus labour market system.
5. Lone parent work-focused interview figures for 2004 are up to and including July.
Lone Parent Income Support: IAD Information Centre, 5 per cent. sample
Lone Parent Work Focused Interview: Family and Disability Analysis Division, Jobcentre and New Deal for Lone Parents Evaluation Databases

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