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23 Mar 2005 : Column 879W—continued

Company Pension Schemes

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what circumstances he would seek to intervene in the wind-up of a company pension scheme. [220206]

Malcolm Wicks: Ministers do not intervene in the wind-up of company pension schemes. However, Ministers do regularly meet members of schemes that are winding-up along with their trades union representatives and constituency MPs, to listen to their concerns.

The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) has a statutory role in monitoring scheme wind-ups. This will be carried forward to The Pensions Regulator when it assumes responsibility for the regulation of occupational pension schemes from Opra in April 2005.

The Regulator will have a range of powers to intervene if it considers that members' benefits are at risk, including the ability to remove and replace the trustees. It will also have a statutory duty to maintain a register of approved independent trustees, which will enable it to keep a check on fees charged by an independent trustee appointed to a scheme following employer insolvency.

Council Tax Relief

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account is taken of equity release for pensioners in determining income in order to calculate council tax relief. [223016]

Mr. Pond: Payments made under an equity release scheme are taken into account as income for the purposes of council tax benefit.

Crown Immunity

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he takes to collate reports made to Ministers by Government Departments of incidents of deaths or serious injury from those activities of those Departments which are subject to Crown immunity; and how many such reports have been made in each of the past 10 years. [221559]

Jane Kennedy: DWP Ministers are not routinely informed of accidents and ill health within Departments that have Crown immunity.
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Ministers and senior managers may be informed of accidents and ill health within the Departments for which they have responsibility. However, such arrangements are a matter for individual Departments.

HSE should receive all reports of deaths and injuries in Government Departments—with certain exemptions for MOD personnel. These reports inform discussions between HSE and Departments about their health and safety performance. Additionally, all Departments' performance on health and safety is now under scrutiny as part of the work of a ministerial task force, which I chair.

Information about reports which result in a Crown Censure or Notice is publicly available on HSE's website. Other data is available only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much of his Department's administrative expenditure was related to (a) pensioners, (b) sick and disabled people, (c) unemployed people, (d) lone parents and (e) other types of claimants in (i) 1997 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available. [222607]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 18 March 2005]: The Department accounts for its administrative expenditure by strategic objective as set out in it's public service agreements (PSA) and by individual requests for resources (RfRs) as set out in the Departmental Estimates and Accounts, and not by claimant type. Information on administrative expenditure by strategic objective is available in the annually published Departmental Report. The Department was created from the former Department for Social Security (DSS) and Employment Services (ES) and consequently information is not currently available for the years 1997 onwards.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were employed by Jobcentre Plus, in the most recent year for which figures are available, broken down by (a) region, (b) parliamentary constituency and (c) local authority. [223487]

Jane Kennedy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Steve Webb, dated 23 March 2005:

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Full-time equivalent staff employed by Jobcentre Plus31 January 2005

East Midlands4,516
East of England4,881
North East4,811
North West11,437
South East6,132
South West4,758
West Midlands6,509
Yorkshire and the Number8,862

Departmental Staffing Database—Mandate Definitions.

New Deal (Lone Parents)

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents in Edinburgh, North and Leith have gained work through the new deal programme. [222906]

Jane Kennedy: 420 lone parents in Edinburgh, North and Leith have gained work through the new deal for lone parents since the start of the programme in October 1998. Figures for lone parents who have gained work through other new deal programmes are not available.

Pensioner Income

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what initiatives his Department has taken to reduce differences in average income between men and women pensioners; and if he will make a statement. [222918]

Malcolm Wicks: One of our guiding principles for pension reform is that the pensions system should produce fair outcomes for women. This has been a key principle that has been inherent in our action so far and will guide our approach in the future.

Through pension credit we have significantly improved the income of the poorest pensioners, the majority of whom are women. Since 1997, we have lifted 1.8 million pensioners out of abject poverty, two thirds of whom are women. As the Pensions Commission Report noted, male and female pensioners now receive a similar level of state benefit.

In addition, almost all of the 1.9 million carers and around 65 per cent. of the 5.8 million low earners who will benefit from the introduction of the state second pension are women. Other measures, such as winter fuel payments, free TV licences and one-off payments have been especially beneficial to women as they are targeted on older pensioners, the majority of whom are women.

We are publishing a report on women and pensions to look at women's pension provision in more detail later this year.
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Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been paid in pension credit to pensioners in Leeds West; how much of this is savings credit; and how many people have benefited. [221966]

Malcolm Wicks: Between 1 October 2003 and 31 December 2004 an estimated total of £10.8 million, was paid in pension credit in the Leeds West constituency. Of this an estimated £1.6 million was paid in savings credit. To the end of December 2004 around 5,000 households comprising around 6,000 individuals, had received pension credit since it was introduced in October 2003.

Mr. Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on sources of funding for community-based projects serving the retired community in Birmingham. [223033]

Malcolm Wicks: Funding for community-based projects which assist older people is available from a variety of sources. In Birmingham these include the local authority; the Legal Services Commission; charities, such as Age Concern and Help the Aged; the Scarman Trust; WarmFront; Neighbourhood Renewal; and local businesses.

The Pension Service Partnership Fund, operated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is currently funding two projects for older people in Birmingham. Community Advice, Support and Advocacy Centre (CASA) and Black Country Housing and Community Services Group Ltd. have both been awarded two years funding for projects to promote the take-up of benefits and complementary services by older people in Birmingham.

The Fund has also awarded funding to another 12 organisations in the West Midlands including two in Coventry, one in Oldbury and one in Wolverhampton.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people (a) in the City of York local authority area and (b) City of York parliamentary constituency receive (i) basic state pension and (ii) pension credit; and what the average weekly value of pension credit received is in each case. [222174]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is in the table:
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Basic state pension recipientsNumber of households getting pension creditAverage weekly amount of pension credit per household (£)
City of York unitary authority34,4006,54534.55
City of York parliamentary constituency17,5004,36034.95

1. Basic state pension figures are taken from a 5 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a high degree of sampling variation.
2. Basic state pension recipient figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Pension credit recipient figures are rounded to the nearest five.
3. State pension data is as at 30 September 2004. Pension credit data is as at 31 December 2004.
4. Parliamentary constituencies and local authority areas are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant Office for National Statistics postcode directory.
5. A basic state pension is paid to those who fully or partially satisfy the contribution conditions for a Category A or Category B basic state pension, either in their own right or, where applicable, on the basis of their spouse's or former spouse's national insurance contributions.
Basic state pension—IAD Information Centre, 5 per cent. sample;
Pension credit—IAD Information Centre, 100 per cent. sample.

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of (a) women and (b) men are eligible for a full state pension in their own right. [223013]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is not available in the format requested. However, as at 30 September 2004, the percentage of men and women who were receiving a full basic state pension based on their own National Insurance contributions as a proportion of the total pensioner population in Great Britain, was about 87 per cent. and 13 per cent. respectively.

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