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5 Apr 2005 : Column 1379W—continued

New Deal

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents in Crosby have gained work through the new deal programme. [223881]

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Mr. Pond: A total of 350 lone parents in Crosby have gained a job 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 the other new deal programmes are not available.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many women in Crosby have participated in (a) the New Deal for Lone Parents and (b) the New Deal for Partners since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [223938]

Mr. Pond: Through the New Deal we have introduced a wide range of initiatives to help individuals improve their employment prospects by giving them the skills, support and confidence they need to move into work. We have successfully rolled out Work Focused Interviews to provide lone parents with the opportunity to discuss work options and find out about the help available to them. From 12 April 2004 we have enhanced the New Deal for Partners to offer partners taking part in the programme the same level of support as our successful New Deal for Lone Parents programme. We are rolling out Work Focused Interviews for Partners offering greater support to partners of benefit recipients.

From October 2004 we have piloted a number of initiatives, including Worksearch Premium and In Work Credit, to test out whether barriers to lone parents entering and remaining in work can be removed.

540 women have started the New Deal for Lone Parents in Crosby since the beginning of the programme in October 1998. Information on the number of women in Crosby who have started the New Deal for Partners is not available.

Occupational Pensions

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason the Financial Services Authority implements payments to those occupational pension holders whose pensions are in deficit or administration at the age of 65 years rather than at the age of retirement stipulated in each scheme. [224071]

Malcolm Wicks: The Financial Assistance Scheme is intended to provide those hardest hit by pension scheme wind-ups with assistance funded by the taxpayer. To ensure that the resources provided by the taxpayer are used most effectively, and to keep administration simple and cost-effective, the Financial Assistance Scheme will adopt a single simple set of rules, based on the most common features of occupational pension schemes, rather than attempting to replicate each particular feature of each individual eligible scheme. According to the Occupational Pension Schemes 2000 survey by the Government Actuary's Department, around 2/3 of active members of private sector defined benefit schemes have a retirement age of 65.

Pension Credit

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 3 March 2005, Official Report, column 1397W, on pension credit, if he will estimate the savings credit take-up rate for (a) those who are entitled to both guarantee credit and savings credit and (b) those who are entitled only to savings credit. [221555]

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Malcolm Wicks: National statistics on take-up of major DWP benefits are published annually by the Department in Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-up". These are based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS) for the relevant year and take account of both entitled non-recipients and non-entitled recipients. However, they are published significantly in arrears and the 2004–05 statistics will not be available for some time.

Interim figures can be derived by comparing administrative claimant count with entitlement figures derived from the Policy Simulation Model, based on the 2002–03 Family Resources Survey. However administrative and survey figures are not directly comparable and any take-up figure derived this way is indicative only.

Guarantee element take-up estimates thus formed can be roughly validated by comparison with existing minimum income guarantee entitlement and take-up estimates. However, in the case of savings credit this is not possible. It is thought that take-up for those on both guarantee and savings credit is to the order of 80 per cent. Similarly it is thought that around half of individuals entitled to savings credit only are taking up their entitlement, although there is no way of validating these results.

The savings element of pension credit is a relatively new entitlement, introduced in October 2003. Weekly entitlement can be up to £15.51 for single pensioners and £20.22 for couples. It is already in payment to over half a million households. The average award was £9.81 as at November 2004, the latest date for which this figure is available.

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when Mr. David Ross, a constituent of the hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, will receive his pension credit. [224031]

Malcolm Wicks: A cheque for arrears of pension credit was issued to Mr. Ross on 4 April 2005. He will now receive his pension credit weekly by direct payment into his account.

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the number of eligible people not claiming pension credit in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland, (d) England and (e) Bridgend; and what plans he has to improve take-up. [224347]

Malcolm Wicks: Direct, reliable estimates of the number of eligible people not receiving pension credit are not yet available.

The following table shows indicative, broad brush estimates of eligibility levels in 2004–05, where available, and numbers in receipt of pension credit at the end of December 2004. These sets of figures are derived from survey and administrative sources respectively and are not directly comparable. We plan to publish definitive National Statistics on take-up and entitlement for the first six months of pension credit by the end of 2005.

The pension service is committed to increasing levels of pension credit take-up. We have already written at least once to every pensioner household in the country to tell them about pension credit and encourage them to
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apply. We are re-contacting directly, by mail, telephone or personal visit, those people whom we believe are particularly likely to be eligible. New, targeted marketing campaigns seek to overcome the barriers which might prevent take-up of pension credit and the reasons which people give for not applying. The pension service local service continues to work in partnership with local authorities and the voluntary sector, particularly in identifying and contacting older people who are vulnerable or who have yet to take up their entitlement.
Eligibility estimates for pension credit 2004–05 and numbers in receipt of pension credit, December 2004

Estimated number of eligible private households, 2004–05200,000300,0003,050,000
Estimated number of eligible individuals, 2004–05250,000400,0004,000,000
Private households in receipt of pension credit, 31 December 2004148,500259,4002,082,400
Individuals in receipt of pension credit, 31 December 2004184,600313,7002,561,500

1.Eligibility levels for pension credit are estimated using the 2002–03 Family Resources Survey modelled using the Department's Policy Simulation Model. Results are subject to sampling errors and estimation assumptions, so these projections are indicative only until the publication of the National Statistics estimates of income-related benefits.
2.Eligibility estimates by country are based on estimates for Government Office Regions. These do not include those in residential care or nursing homes (RCNH). Eligibility estimates are in thousands, rounded to the nearest 50,000.
3.Numbers in receipt of pension credit are as at the end of December 2004 ascrecorded by General Matching Service data, scaled up to provide month-endcfigures and rounded to the nearest hundred.
4.Numbers in receipt do not include RCNH recipients. Total numbers in receipt at the end of December have been adjusted by estimated numbers of RCNH recipients, based on the November 2004 QSE administration data and rounded to the nearest 100.
5.Some individual recipients may be under 60 years of age, where the claimant is aged 60 or over and the partner aged under 60.
6.Eligibility estimates at constituency level are not available.
7.Figures for Northern Ireland are not available.

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