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6 Jun 2005 : Column 373W—continued

Race Hate Crimes

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the steps he is taking to tackle race hate crime in Northern Ireland. [2183]

Mr. Hanson: The Government along with the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland abhors hate crime in all its manifestations and is taking positive and practical steps to tackle this. In particular the Government are currently considering its response to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee's report entitled the Challenge of Diversity—Hate Crime in Northern Ireland".

The Government have already introduced the Criminal Justice (No.2) (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 which directs the courts to take account during sentencing of any offence where there is evidence of hostility based on religion, race disability or sexual orientation. In addition the legislation increases the maximum sentences available for certain specified, mainly violent offences including where racial, religious or sexual aggravation is proven.

Work is concluding on the development of the Racial Equality strategy, which will provide a framework for practical and protective measures to tackle hate crime and the causes of hate crime. This will be a joined-up strategy involving every part of Government working together to address this most serious issue. One of the
 
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practical outcomes of this will be the provision of additional support for the victims of this type of crime and taking forward work to have better information about hate crime incidents so that resources can be targeted to address them.

Finally, the police are investing considerable time and effort in addressing race crime. Recent initiatives include the introduction of an on-line reporting system on the PSNI website as part of the Hate Crime is Wrong campaign". The Police Service is determined to fully investigate all hate related incidents and where possible to secure sufficient evidence to prosecute offenders.

Renewable Energy

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent consultations have been carried out by his Department in relation to the development of renewable energy sources, particularly (a) wind, (b) water and (c) nuclear energy, in Northern Ireland. [2198]

Angela E. Smith: The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment issued a general consultation paper on all renewable energy sources entitled Realising the Potential", in October 2001. This was followed up, during 2004, with a series of two consultations relating to the introduction of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation which is aimed at incentivisng the overall development of renewables in NI.

There has been no consultation on nuclear energy in Northern Ireland.

Security Guards (Crown Insignia)

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the composition by community background of security guards whose uniforms bear Crown insignia was on the latest date for which figures are available. [617]

Angela E. Smith: The composition of permanent NICS and NIO staff employed in support grades, classified as security guards, by community background as at 1 January 2005 is as follows:
Community backgroundNumber of staff
Protestant92
Catholic12
Not determined14
Total118

A further 46 staff provide security guard services as a part function of their job. 67 staff in total wear uniforms bearing Crown insignia. A separate breakdown for these staff is not available.

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for whom security guards on the Stormont estate with Crown insignia on their uniforms work. [618]

Angela E. Smith: Security Guards with Crown insignia on their uniforms within the Stormont Estate, work for the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel and the Northern Ireland Office.
 
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WORK AND PENSIONS

Attendance Allowance

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action is being taken to ensure that those who may qualify for attendance allowance are aware of the availability of the benefit. [1350]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department goes to considerable lengths to publicise all benefits including attendance allowance. Information is available from all the Department's offices, from Citizen Advice Bureaux and other advice agencies and leaflets are available in Post Offices, and doctors' surgeries. In addition information and advice about attendance allowance is provided by the Benefit Enquiry Line. For people with internet access information about all benefits and how they may be claimed is on the DWP website (www.dwp.gov.uk).

The Department also undertakes a considerable amount of local outreach work and is increasingly working with partners such as Local Authority Social Services and Welfare Rights organisations who are well placed to identify people who may be entitled to attendance allowance in a targeted and personal way.

403,000 claims for attendance allowance were received in the year ending November 2004 and the number of people receiving attendance allowance has increased from 1.25 million in November 1999 to 1.4 million in November 2004, a rise of almost 13 per cent. Over this period expenditure has increased from £2.7 billion in 1998–99 to an anticipated £3.6 billion in 2004–05.

Autism

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will seek to introduce amending legislation which will ensure that children who suffer from autism are entitled to the high rate of care and mobility components of disability living allowance from the date of diagnosis. [1357]

Mrs. McGuire: Children with autism spectrum disorders are entitled to disability living allowance on the same basis as anyone else with a severe disability. They will qualify if they meet the entitlement conditions for the benefit, which depend on the effects that severe physical or mental disability have on a person's need for personal care and/or their ability to walk and not on particular disabilities or diagnoses. There are no plans to amend the legislation.

The numbers of children receiving disability living allowance as a result of the effects of autism spectrum disorders are not recorded separately, but are included in the more general category of those with 'learning difficulties'. As at 30 November 2004, over 71,000 children whose main disabling condition is recorded as learning difficulties were receiving the benefit. Of these over 30,000 were in receipt of either the highest rate care component or the higher rate mobility component, or both.

Benefit Claims

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals claim both council tax benefit and disability benefit in England. [374]


 
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Mr. Plaskitt: The most recently available information is in the table.
Council tax benefit (CTB) recipients in England also in receipt of attendance allowance (AA), disability living allowance (DLA) or a disability premium: May 2003

Households
CTB with AA/DLA1,124,000
CTB with a disability premium1,145,000




Notes:
1.The figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.
2.Council tax benefit data excludes any second adult rebate cases.
3.Disability premiums included are disability premium, severe disability premium and enhanced disability premium.
4.Many households receive both AA/DLA and a disability premium, so there will be some overlap between the figures.
Source:
Housing benefit and council tax benefit management information system, annual 1 per cent. sample, taken in May 2003.



Carers Benefit

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the amount of unclaimed carers' benefit in a year; and what plans he has to improve the uptake of that benefit. [1548]

Mrs. McGuire: Entitlement to carer's allowance depends on whether the qualifying conditions are satisfied and this can be reliably established only after a claim has been made. There are no data available which would provide an estimate of the number of carers who would meet those conditions if they claimed.

Information and advice about entitlement to carer's allowance are available from a range of outlets including social security offices, Jobcentre Plus offices, DWP and other helplines, DWP and other internet sites, local authorities, Citizens Advice and welfare benefit offices, public libraries, health clinics, doctors' surgeries and health visitors. Officials from the Department's disability and carers service also discuss carer's allowance at outreach events up and down the country.

In addition, the extensive pension credit take-up campaign, recently mounted by the Pension Service, has helped many older carers to benefit from the Government's abolition of the upper age limit on claims to carer's allowance.

The carer's allowance claim pack is kept under review and improvements are introduced on an ongoing basis. Claims can be made in writing, by phone and on-line, and can be accepted by organisations such as Age Concern and Citizens Advice as well as DWP offices.


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