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11 Jan 2005 : Column 462W—continued

Employment and Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the outcome was of the Employment and Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council on 7 December; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [203835]

Mr. Pond: I represented the UK for the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Brussels on 7 December 2004, accompanied by my hon. friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumers and Postal Services (Mr. Sutcliffe).

The Council reached political agreement on a draft directive protecting workers from the risks of exposure to optical radiation. I maintained the UK parliamentary scrutiny reserve on this item.

On working time, there was no agreement. Although there was majority support for the Dutch Presidency proposed solution to SIMAP/Jaeger, a blocking minority supported by the Commission opposed the Presidency compromise. However, the Council debate provided a useful way forward for further discussion.

The Council endorsed the Employment Committee's Opinion on the Annual Commission Report on migration and integration without discussion.

The Council endorsed the EMCO and SPC opinion on the Kok report, and completed a table round on the Social Policy Agenda in the context of the Lisbon Strategy. The Commissioner emphasised that the EU must respond to the challenges of globalisation, ageing, increasing diversity and the shift to a knowledge-based society. All delegations agreed that Lisbon was the right strategy to tackle this, and did not need to be revisited. The SPA must in turn support Lisbon, increasing the quantity and quality of jobs, balancing flexibility and security, and building social inclusion. For the UK, I intervened to argue that employment was always the best social policy and, furthermore, that employment growth was the key to sustaining the European Social Model. I emphasised that economic and social policy were therefore mutually dependent rather than being in conflict with each other.

The Council agreed a general approach to the recast on the Directives covering on Equal Treatment between men and women without discussion. There was no discussion on this point.

The Council agreed a general approach to extending funding for the two equality programmes—the Community framework strategy on gender equality and the Community Action Programme—to 2006, without discussion.

The Council adopted the Council Conclusions on sexual harassment at the workplace without discussion.
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Income Support

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) male and (b) female recipients of income support, excluding minimum income guarantees and pension credit there have been in each year since 1979. [203178]

Mr. Pond: The information is in the following table:
Income support claimants and supplementary benefit claimants by gender

1985(5507190015)Not availableNot available

(5507190015) Numbers are not available due to industrial action.
(5507190016) Unemployed claimants are included in the figures up to and including 1996. Income support for the unemployed was replaced by income-based jobseeker's allowance in October 1996.
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand up to and including 1993 and to the nearest hundred thereafter.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. Income support replaced supplementary benefit in April 1988.
4. Excludes pensioners which are defined as follows:
Up to and including 1987, pensioners are defined as claimants of pensionable age. From 1988 pensioners are defined as benefit units where either the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 or over
5. Numbers are based on sample data and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.
6. All estimates relate to a point in time. For 1979 the month of the inquiry was November, for 1980 to 1984 the month was December, for 1986 the month was February, 1987 to 2004 was May.
DWP Information Centre, 1 per cent. and 5 per cent. samples.


Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in Eltham are receiving (a) pension credit, (b) winter fuel payment, (c) free TV licences and (d) the additional £100 council tax contribution; and how much has been spent on each of these. [207269]

Malcolm Wicks: At 31 October there were 3,040 households, comprising 3,670 individuals, receiving pension credit in Eltham, with an average award of
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£47.92. Between 1 October 2003 and 31 October 2004 an estimated £8.2 million, rounded to the nearest £100,000, was paid in pension credit in Eltham.

In winter 2003–04 there were 14,505 people in Eltham in receipt of winter fuel payment, at a cost of £2,530,250. We expect the figures for this winter to be similar.

Information on the numbers of households in receipt of free television licences, or the amount spent, is not available by constituency. The number of households with at least one resident aged 75 or over in Eltham was 4,835 in winter 2003–04. Each of these households would be eligible for a free TV licence. Total expenditure on free TV licences in the United Kingdom in 2003–04 was around £408 million.

Of the 14,505 people who received a winter fuel payment in Eltham in 2003–04, 8,415 were aged over 70. We expect a similar number to receive the One-off 70+ Payment of £100 this winter. The cost of this payment is not yet available.

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many pensioners in Scotland were eligible for the £100 winter fuel payment for the over eighties last winter; and how many received it; [207575]

(2) how many pensioners in Scotland will be eligible for an additional winter fuel payment for the over eighties this winter. [207576]

Malcolm Wicks: It is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of the number of people in Scotland eligible to receive the additional winter fuel payment for the over eighties. 184,760 pensioners in Scotland received the additional winter fuel payment for the over eighties last winter. We would expect the number to be similar for this winter.

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