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Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in the High Peak constituency are receiving (a) jobseeker's allowance, (b) incapacity benefit and (c) income support; and how many were receiving each in 1997. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether benefit recipients may receive their benefits directly into a credit union account; and what
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agreement has been made with the Association of British Credit Unions concerning the necessary arrangements; 
(2) what plans he has to enable recipients of pensions to use credit unions as the mechanism for direct payments of pensions; and what arrangements he has entered into with the Association of British Credit Unions on the arrangements for doing so. 
Mr. Pond: Benefit recipients may, at their request, have benefits paid into a Credit Union account. This is a change of approach by the Department, which until recently advised benefit recipients against payment of benefits direct into any Credit Union. The change reflects discussion with the Association of British Credit Unions that in some situations such payments will now meet the needs of benefit recipients.
Benefit recipients who request payment into a Credit Union account are normally asked to contact their individual Credit Union to discuss access arrangements before they finally decide if payment into a Credit Union is the appropriate account option for them.
Not all Credit Unions will accept payments of benefits, because they do not have the ability to link funds paid into their central account quickly to individual accounts. Some are only open one or two days a week and are unable to provide the customer with access to their benefit on the day of entitlement.
Maria Eagle: The Government's indicative timetable for implementing provisions in the Disability Discrimination Bill was set out in their response to the Report of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee on the Draft Disability Discrimination Bill (Cm 6276). Since that document was published the Bill, which is currently before the House of Lords, has been revised to take account of the pre-legislative scrutiny process. In line with our timetable for implementing the Bill's provisions that would generally require the support of a Code of Practice, the intention is that the extension of the DDA to cover qualifications bodies offering general qualifications, which is a provision added since scrutiny, would come into force in December 2006.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the size range of the proposed (a) rehabilitation support allowance and (b) disability and sickness allowance are expected to be. 
No specific size range has been set. However, people on the rehabilitation support allowance who participate in work-focused interviews and take steps to prepare for a return to work will
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receive a level of benefit higher than the current long-term rate of contributory incapacity benefit. People on the disability and sickness allowance will also receive a level of benefit higher than the current long-term rate but this will not be dependent on them taking steps to prepare for a return to work.
Maria Eagle: As part of the efficiency programme detailed business and staffing plans continue to be developed across the Department. At this stage it is therefore not possible to provide a figure for potential staff reductions that may occur across Merseyside.
In the first phase of planning and as part of the ongoing modernisation of service delivery it has been decided that the Liverpool Pension Centre will no longer deal with Pension Service work after this financial year. Plans for the future of the Pension Centre site and staff have yet to be finalised.
Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed housing benefit in each constituency in Scotland in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many directives his Department has issued to local authorities regarding the processing of housing benefit in each year since 1997; 
Mr. Pond: Local authorities are obliged to administer housing benefit in accordance with the appropriate legislation. In order to assist them in this the Department provides them with a range of guidance material including the Housing Benefit Guidance Manual, which is updated regularly. We also issues circulars giving guidance on administration, subsidy and fraud. The number of such circulars issued in each year is shown in the table.
|2005 (to date)||3||1||1||5|
We monitor and measure local authority processing times through a range of Best Value Performance Indicators and statutory performance indicators. Local
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authorities provide quarterly statistical returns to the Department. These statistics show that new claims were processed, on average 12 days quicker in 200304 than in 200102. The second quarter of 200405 shows further improvements, with the average number of days to process new claims reducing from 50 days to 47 when compared to the same quarter of 200304.
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Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed incapacity benefit in each constituency in Scotland in the latest period for which figures are available. 
|Airdrie and Shotts||7,200||6,500||700|
|Argyll and Bute||3,200||2,900||*400|
|Banff and Buchan||4,600||3,900||700|
|Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross||2,600||2,200||*400|
|Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley||5,800||5,300||500|
|Clydebank and Milngavie||3,900||3,600||*300|
|Coatbridge and Chryston||5,900||5,300||600|
|Cumbernauld and Kilsyth||4,600||4,100||500|
|Edinburgh East and Musselburgh||5,500||4,800||600|
|Edinburgh North and Leith||4,400||3,900||*400|
|Galloway and Upper Nithsdale||3,800||3,400||*400|
|Greenock and Inverclyde||5,100||4,700||*400|
|Hamilton North and Bellshill||6,000||5,600||*400|
|Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber||3,700||3,100||600|
|Kilmarnock and Loudoun||5,100||4,500||600|
|Motherwell and Wishaw||5,800||5,300||600|
|North East Fife||1,800||1,600||*200|
|Orkney and Shetland||1,500||1,000||*400|
|Ross, Skye and Inverness West||3,900||3,500||*300|
|Roxburgh and Berwickshire||2,600||2,300||*300|
|Strathkelvin and Bearsden||3,400||2,900||500|
|Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale||2,500||2,200||*300|
|West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine||2,000||1,800||*200|
|As at August:||Number|
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent on (a) short-term incapacity benefit at the lower rate, (b) short-term incapacity benefit at the higher rate and (c) long-term incapacity benefit in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by constituency. 
|City of Durham||4,800|
|North West Durham||5,500|
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the change in benefit payments that will occur as a result of the replacement of incapacity benefit for some claimants (a) with the proposed rehabilitation support allowance and (b) with the proposed disability and sickness allowance. 
Maria Eagle: Our intention is to replace incapacity benefits for new claimants to ensure people with health conditions and disabilities are helped to prepare for a return to the labour market wherever feasible.
As part of this new regime claimants of the rehabilitation support allowance will be required to participate in work-focused interviews and take steps to prepare for a return to work. Fulfilling both these requirements would mean claimants receiving a level of benefit payment higher than the current long-term rate of contributory incapacity benefit. People on the disability and sickness allowance would also receive a level of benefit payment higher than the current long-term rate but this will not be dependent on them taking steps to prepare for a return to work.
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