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Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to announce his Department's response to the consultation on the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Regulations as they affect people with a cancer diagnosis. 
Mrs. McGuire: This consultation document (Cm6402) was published on 16 December 2004 and covered a wide range of issues, including proposals on the use of a regulation-making power to exclude certain cancers (mainly minor skin cancers) from the scope of the extended definition of disability in the Disability Discrimination Bill, now the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. The formal consultation ended on 18 March.
During consideration of the Disability Discrimination Bill in the House of Lords, the Government undertook not to use the cancer regulation-making power until it had reviewed in consultation with the Disability Rights Commission and cancer organisations, evidence relating to disability discrimination in respect of cancers not likely to require substantial treatment. This exercise supplemented the public consultation and was carried out in April and May. We are considering the outcomes of both these exercises and expect to be in a position to publish the results shortly.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many single claimants aged (a) less than 25 years and (b) 25 years and older are in receipt of (i) disability premium, (ii) enhanced disability premium and (iii) severe disability premium. 
|Disability premium (DP)||Severe disability premium (SDP)||Enhanced disability premium (EDP)||Claimants with one or more|
of DP, SDP or EDP
|All single claimants||1,030,000||670,000||110,000||1,530,000|
|Those under 25||70,000||10,000||10,000||70,000|
|Those 25 and over||960,000||660,000||100,000||1,450,000|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the implications of using different IT systems to process housing benefit in the local housing allowance pilot areas for the administration of the system. 
Mr. Plaskitt: It is the responsibility of each local authority to review the performance of their information technology supplier. The Department has not made an assessment of the implications of using different IT systems to process housing benefit in the local housing allowance pilot areas.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the single housing benefit form HBRR1 is (a) included in all rapid claim packs and (b) applicable in every local authority. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The housing benefit form HBRR1 is included in all rapid reclaim packs for income support and jobseeker's allowance. These packs are issued nationally by Jobcentre Plus and cover all local authorities.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what effect the introduction of local housing allowances has had on the level of fraud in relation to housing benefit in the pathfinder areas; and if he will make a statement. 
We are continuing to evaluate the local housing allowance (LHA) with the pathfinder areas. We are not yet in a position to estimate the impact of the LHA on the level of fraud or overpayments.
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Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) initial and (b) projected cost of setting up the local housing allowance scheme in the nine pathfinder areas is, broken down by (i) benefit payments and (ii) IT expenditure. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The total administrative costs of the local housing allowance pathfinders in 200304 and 200405 were £6.1 million. Of this, £1.4 million covered IT expenditure. Administrative funding for 200506 is estimated at £2.75 million, none of which is earmarked for IT costs.
Benefit expenditure is estimated to be £23 million in 200405, although this does not represent full year costs for all nine pathfinders as not all of them had fully converted their caseload at the start of the year, and £32.5 million in 200506.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what performance standards for local authority administration of housing benefit have been introduced since 1997; and how many local authorities have met these performance targets since they were introduced. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Performance Standards were first launched in March 2002 to set out clearly for the first time the standards of service that local authorities should be aiming to deliver. The standards described what needed to be done to administer housing benefit effectively and securely, and addressed all aspects of administration.
The Performance Standards were reviewed in 2004 and a revised publication was issued in March 2005, based on a significantly reduced set of standards to reduce the burden of self-assessment for all 408 local authorities.
|Number of local authorities recording new claim processing times of 36 days or less||119||135||202|
|Number of local authorities deciding on 90 per cent. of claims or more within 14 days||73||63||109|
|Number of local authorities recording change of circumstances processing times of nine days or less||138||168||191|
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many appeals have been made against housing benefit decisions in each year since 1997; and in what proportion of cases the appeal was decided in favour of the appellant. 
The information you have asked for is not available in the format requested as the Appeals Service only assumed responsibility for Housing Benefit appeals from July 2001. The table below, therefore, only shows the number of appeals made against Housing Benefit decisions from 2001 and in what proportion of cases the appeal was decided in favour of the appellant.
|Lodged||Cleared in Favour||% Cleared in Favour|
|Apr 01Mar 02||3,940||305||7.71%|
|Apr 02Mar 03||4,170||700||16.75%|
|Apr 03Mar 04||4,180||645||15.38%|
|Apr 04Mar 05||3,900||750||19.27%|
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account his Department is taking of the concerns of landlords in the private rented housing sector regarding direct payment of housing benefit to tenants. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The general provision is that payment of housing benefit is made to the tenant. Every tenant is personally responsible for paying their rent; of those who claim housing benefit, the vast majority accept that responsibility by paying rent to their landlords.
While the present regulations give consideration to the personal responsibility of the tenant and the legitimate interests of landlords, it is ultimately the landlord's own responsibility to ensure that he obtains whatever payments are properly due to him, irrespective of the tenant's source of income.
Housing benefit regulations give local authorities wide-ranging powers to pay benefit direct to a claimant's landlord where there are eight weeks arrears of rent, unless it is in the tenant's overriding interest not to do so, or the landlord is not regarded as fit and proper to receive such payments.
Local authorities also have discretion to make direct payments at any time where they decide that it is in the tenant's best interest to do so. This provision also caters for circumstances where it may be appropriate to make direct payments where there are no rent arrears, for example where the tenant has a history of rent arrears at a previous address or where social or medical problems clearly indicate that help with budgeting is needed.
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If a tenant, having originally agreed to payment direct to his landlord, then withdraws his consent it is still open to the local authority to make direct payment if they are satisfied this would be in the tenant's interest, for example, to prevent rent arrears and possible eviction.
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