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Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people (a) started claiming the state retirement pension, (b) were refused full state pension entitlement because they claimed the pension outside the time limit, (c) appealed against the decision to refuse them full state pension because they had claimed the pension outside the time limits and (d) were successful in their appeals in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Timms: The number of claimants wishing to claim state pension from a date earlier than the statutory period of three months is not routinely collected. Information on the number of people appealing against the disallowance of a late claim is not available. The scope for a successful appeal is limited, given that the prescribed time for claiming is absolute. Under current legislation the time limit cannot be extended on the grounds of, for instance, good cause.
The Government have however introduced legislation which is extending the prescribed time for claiming state pension from three months to 12 months. The change is being introduced gradually over the course of this financial year so that, by April 2006, pensioners will be able to have their state pension entitlementother than any
A person who delays claiming their state pension, deliberately or otherwise, is treated as having deferred their entitlement. As a result, they could be eligible for a higher weekly pension when they do finally claim. Alternatively, if they delay their entitlement for at least 12 months from April 2005 they will have the option of a one-off taxable lump sum payment, based on deferred pension plus interest, instead of a pension
The Government have introduced a number of measures that directly address the reduction in pension that individuals can face when their scheme winds-up with insufficient funds. The Government have:
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Introduced the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) which is an historic step forward in protecting scheme members. It will, for the first time, pay compensation to members of eligible defined benefit and hybrid occupational pension schemes when there is a qualifying insolvency event in relation to the employer and where there are insufficient assets in the pension scheme to cover PPF levels of compensation;
Introduced a new statutory priority order when the PPF started up for business on 6 April 2005. The new priority order applies to schemes which commence winding up on or after that date. It ensures that members of schemes wound up due to employer insolvency, with sufficient funds to meet more than the benefits guaranteed by the PPF, do not find themselves in a worse position than if the scheme had less funds and was covered by the PPF; and
Introduced legislation that increases the debt on the employer to the 'full buy-out' level, as we believe that wherever possible employers should ensure that there are sufficient funds in schemes which are winding up to meet the full costs of the rights accrued by scheme members.
It is also important to take action before schemes reach this point. The Government have established the Pensions Regulator (the Regulator) which replaced the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) on 6 April 2005. The Regulator will take a proactive and risk-based approach to regulation and, in addition to the powers inherited from Opra, will have a range of new and increased powers to protect members of work-based pension schemes. The Regulator will concentrate its resources where there is the greatest risk to the security of members' benefits.
The Government fully understands, and shares the concerns of those people whose pensions are affected when their scheme is wound up. The measures we have introduced ensure that trustees and employers have clear obligations and incentives to protect members' benefits. The Government will continue to review the situation.
Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set up a review of the policy of paying state pensions to UK citizens living abroad in some countries and not to others; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners were living in (a) absolute and (b) relative poverty in each year since 197980; and if he will make a statement. 
The following table gives the number of pensioners living in relative low income since 1979 and the number in absolute low income against the standard 199697 baseline from 199697 onwards. Absolute low income is
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defined as below 60 per cent. of 199697 median income held constant in real terms and relative low income is defined as below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income.
|Income below 60 per cent. of 199697|
median income held constant in real terms
|Income below 60 per cent. of|
contemporary median income
|Housing costs||Housing costs|
|Family Expenditure Survey (UK )(22)|
|Family Resources Survey (GB)1|
Further information showing the proportion and number of pensioners living in low income households, including annual levels, can be found in the publication "Households Below Average Income 199495 to 200304", a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library. This also reports statistics between 1979 and 199596, using the data source and income definitions previously employed for the 'Households Below Average Income' series.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans the Government have to involve private and voluntary sector day nurseries in (a) children's centres and (b) extended schools. 
Beverley Hughes: The Government greatly values the contribution made by the thousands of private and voluntary nurseries, playgroups and pre-schools to early education and child care. We are determined that these sectors should continue to play a full part in the provision of early years education and child care as these services are expanded. The day nursery sector now cares for more children aged under five than any other type of child care with the vast majority of day nurseries in the private sector (85 per cent.). 24 per cent. of all day nurseries are in the 20 per cent. most disadvantaged areas and over 60 per cent. of all neighbourhood nurseries were successfully delivered by the private sector.
Responsibility for the strategic planning of location of children's centres lies with local authorities. Stakeholders including private and voluntary day nurseries are key to the development of current and future children's centres. Providers are regularly invited to work with local authorities in the process of identifying current needs as well as developing plans for existing and future involvement. Local authorities are expected to take advantage of the expertise that many private and voluntary sector providers offer.
Following the Children Act 2004, local authorities are working with key partners as part of children's trust arrangements to plan and commission services strategically. They are encouraged to work with private and other providers to assess current levels of child care availability as well as likely future requirements of the community. Many schools are expected to develop the core offer of extended services by working in partnership with existing local private or voluntary sector providers.
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