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25 May 2005 : Column 121W—continued


Benefit Payment

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's policy is towards publicising methods of paying benefits that do not require the recipient to hold a bank or similar account. [766]

Mr. Plaskitt: Direct payment into an account is now the normal method of payment for benefits and pensions, with more than 95 per cent. of customers being paid this way. Direct payment is a modern, secure and efficient way of making payments. It gives customers more choice and security and the taxpayer better value for money.

We have always recognised that there are a small number of customers who we cannot pay into an account. These customers are paid by cheque, which they can cash at the Post Office. While cheque payments are a suitable way of paying those people who genuinely cannot operate any sort of account, we do not believe they are appropriate for the vast majority of our customers (over 90 per cent. of whom have access to an account suitable for direct payment).

Customers are provided with all the information they need to choose the account which best meets their needs and circumstances. Those customers who do not think they can use an account are asked to contact the Department, where they can be given further advice and support.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by what date the Government expect to meet their target to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefits by 1 million; and if he will make a statement. [884]

Margaret Hodge: Reducing the numbers of people on incapacity benefits by 1 million is a challenging and long-term aspiration. The Department is preparing proposals to support this aspiration and intend to publish a Green Paper shortly.

The Department has already made progress with existing policies and since 1997:

Further progress will require continued macroeconomic stability and further radical welfare reform to build on the success achieved to date.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish his proposals for reform of incapacity benefits; and if he will make a statement. [886]

Margaret Hodge: We plan to publish a Green Paper setting out our proposals for incapacity benefit reform shortly.
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Pathways to Work

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he will make a statement on the Pathways to Work pilots; by what date the schemes will be rolled out to cover (a) one-third and (b) the whole country; and if he will make a statement. [818]

Margaret Hodge: Our Pathways to Work pilots aim to improve opportunities for people on incapacity benefits to get back to work by offering intensive help and support to address personal, health, employment and financial barriers to working, through a balance of rights and responsibilities.

The early successes of the pilots have encouraged us to go further. From October this year we will extend the pilots in three phases to cover one third of the country to be completed by October 2006. Further expansion to the whole country is dependent on additional resources being made available.

Work Experience

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the need for greater flexibility in the operation of the rule preserving benefits for two weeks of work experience. [699]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 24 May 2005]: To introduce greater flexibility, the Department introduced work trials to help people move into work by giving them the opportunity of trying out a job while remaining on benefit. With some exceptions, they are open to people unemployed for six months or more and claiming a qualifying benefit such as jobseeker's allowance. A work trial allows a jobseeker to check whether a job is likely to work out before leaving the security of benefit. It also gives employers the opportunity to test a person's suitability for a job. A trial can last up to 15 working days for jobs of 16 hours or more a week and which are expected to last for at least 13 weeks.


Diagnostic and Treatment Centres (Private)

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what restrictions she intends to place on the recruitment of staff from the NHS by the private diagnostic and treatment centres which she has recently announced. [481]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 23 May 2005]: For the first wave of our independent sector procurement programme we applied a policy of strict additionality to all contracts. This prevented independent sector providers from recruiting any staff who had worked in the national health service within the last six months. For the next phase of our procurement we are currently finalising the contract terms which will include appropriate additionality arrangements.
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Health Service Expenditure

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total (a) hospital expenditure, (b) expenditure on community services, (c) expenditure on ambulance services and (d) total hospital and community health services expenditure was in each year since 1990–91 in (i) nominal terms and (ii) real terms. [233]

Mr. Byrne: Information on the expenditure on hospital and community services in England has been provided previously. I refer the hon. Member to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), on 9 March 2005, Official Report, columns 1911–12W and 18 March 2005, Official Report, columns 518–19W.

Expenditure figures for ambulance services expenditure are obtained from the financial returns of the service providers and are shown in the table.

It is not possible to provide comparable figures prior to 1996–97 and 2003–04 is the latest year for which data is available.
Expenditure by national health service ambulance trusts

Expenditure on ambulance services in nominal termsExpenditure on ambulance services in cash terms

Annual financial returns of NHS trusts 1996–97 to 2003–04.
Her Majesty's Treasury gross domestic product deflator.

Heatwave Plan

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many finished consultant episodes of care have had as their primary diagnosis (a) sunburn, (b) heatstroke and sunstroke and (c) other hot weather-related diagnoses in each year since 1991. [258]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is shown in the table.
Count of finished consultant episodes (FCEs) for selected diagnoses(4), national health service hospitals, England 1995–96 to 2003–04

SunburnHeatstroke and sunstrokeOther hot weather-related diagnoses

(4) Selected diagnoses:
(a) Sunburn defined as the following ICD-10 codes in primary diagnosis:
L55.0 Sunburn of first degree
L55.1 Sunburn of second degree
L55.2 Sunburn of third degree
L55.8 Other sunburn
L55.9 Sunburn, unspecified
(b) Heatstroke and Sunstroke defined as the following ICD-10 codes in primary diagnosis :
T67.0 Heatstroke and sunstroke
T67.1 Heat syncope
T67.2 Heat cramp
T67.3 Heat exhaustion, anhydrotic
T67.4 Heat exhaustion due to salt depletion
T67.5 Heat exhaustion, unspecified
T67.6 Heat fatigue, transient
T67.7 Heat oedema
T67.8 Other effects of heat and light
T67.9 Effect of heat and light, unspecified
(c) Other hot weather-related diagnoses defined as the following ICD-10 codes in primary diagnosis:
L59.0 Erythema ab igne [dermatitis ab igne]
L74.0 Miliaria rubra (prickly heat)
1. A FCE is defined as a period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. Please note that the figures do not represent the number of patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the year.
2. The primary diagnosis is the first of up to 14 (seven prior to 2002–03) diagnosis fields in the hospital episode statistics (HES) data set and provides the main reason why the patient was in hospital.
3. Figures are grossed for both coverage and missing/invalid clinical data, except for 2002–03 and 2003–04, which are not yet adjusted for shortfalls.
HES, Health and Social Care Information Centre.

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