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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect on the economy of sickness absence due to obesity in the last five years. 
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the total value was of outsourced (a) employment and (b) training programmes in London for each year since 2001; 
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to the right hon. and learned Member.
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The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning what the total value was of outsourced employment and training programmes in London for each year since 2001. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The table below details the amounts spent in London on employment and training programmes, both by Jobcentre Plus London Region and by DWP Work, Welfare & Equality Group on Employment Zones and Action teams.
The amounts shown for training programmes cover work-based learning for adults and basic skills training which have a close employment focus. In the same way, many of our employment programmes have elements of training within them.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) of 28 October 2005, Official Report, column 609W, on Pathways to Work, if he will list the destinations other than work of the terminations from incapacity benefit and severe disability allowance; how many of those terminated from incapacity benefit and severe disability allowance took up employment; and how many were in each other category. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 10 November 2005]: The information provided in my previous answer was sourced from Information Directorate 5 per cent. sample data. There are no additional breakdowns available from 5 per cent. sample data to those provided in that answer.
Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) 100 per cent. data offers the potential to follow benefit claimants who move onto employment schemes or into work. However, we do not expect to be in a position to release WPLS-based figures on benefit leavers into employment until the second half of 2006.
In the meantime, the annual Destination of Benefit Leavers Survey provides estimates on the proportion of benefit leavers who go to work, education and training, other benefits and so on. The latest published figures from the 2004 survey show that 52 per cent. of incapacity benefit leavers nationally moved into work of 16 hours or more per week.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) existing and (b) new claimants of incapacity benefits (i) were covered by Pathways to Work pilots in (A) October 2003, (B) April 2004 and (C) October 2005 and (ii) he expects to be covered in (1) April 2006 and (2) October 2006. 
|Existing customer case load||New customers|
Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what provision there is for members of pension schemes to claim ill health pensions from the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) (a) while their scheme is in the assessment period and (b) once it has been accepted into the PPF. 
Mr. Timms: While a scheme is in an assessment period trustees may make awards of ill health pensions in accordance with their scheme rules. However, any payments made must not exceed the level of compensation that the PPF would pay.
The PPF will compensate members entitled to ill health pensions at the 100 per cent. level if the pension was in payment prior to the assessment period or if the application was made before the assessment period and certain legislative conditions are met.
The local government pension scheme has a retirement age of 65, but members can choose to retire without employer consent from age 60, in which case any pension coming into payment may be subject to an actuarial reduction as a result of coming into payment early.
Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the level of the basic state pension in the United Kingdom is as a percentage of gross domestic product; and what assessment he has made of how this compares with other European Union countries. 
Mr. Timms: The figure for the amount spent on state pensions as a whole in the UK as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) is 5.5 per cent. Studies by the European Union's Economic Policy Committee have shown the average figure for the European Union 15 is 10.5 per cent., with the UK's system deemed to be sustainable in the long-term. Such figures do not, of course, take account of non-state provision, which is significantly higher in the UK than in many other member states.
It should be stressed that the UK's system of support for the elderly is aimed at addressing poverty as well as replacing in-work income. An up-to-date and more indicative comparison is the harmonised expenditure on the elderly as a percentage of GDP. The European Statistical Agency's data published in October 2005 show that the UK spent 11.7 per cent. in 2002 (before the introduction of pension credit and age-related payments), which is at the upper end of the overall range of expenditure in EU member states, of between 3.6 and 14.9 per cent.
The European Union 15 member states at 30 April 2004 comprised: Austria; Belgium; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Ireland; Italy; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Portugal; Spain; Sweden; and the UK.
1. The European Union's Economic Policy Committee study: Budgetary Challenges posed by ageing populations: the impact on public spending on pensions, health and long-term care for the elderly and possible indicators of the long-term sustainability of public finances" EPC 2001, EPC/ECFIN/655/01-EN Final. 2. Joint report of the Commission and the Council on adequate and sustainable pensions March 2003. 3. EUROSTAT's (the European Statistical Agency) October 2005 publication, European social policy statistics: Social protectionExpenditure and receipts".
Mr. Timms: We will continue to administer the state pension in its current form. We will review the pensions system following the publication next week of the second report of the Pensions Commission, in the light of the National Pensions Debate which is under way at present. We are aiming for a broad consensus for reforms to the pensions system.
Mr. Andrew Turner:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many approaches have been made by the Pensions Service offering a benefits entitlement check (a) by letter, (b) by telephone, (c) by home visit and (d) in total in each year for which
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information is available; what follow-up takes place where no reply is received to letters or telephone calls; how many people requested a home visit in each year; what the cost has been of the initiative; and what assessment he has made of the extent of increased access to benefits as a result thereof. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning how many approaches have been made by The Pension Service offering a benefits entitlement check (a) by letter (b) by telephone (c) by home visit and (d) in total in each year for which information is available; what follow-up takes place where no reply is received to letters or telephone calls; how many people requested a home visit in each year; what the cost has been of the initiative; and what assessment he has made of the extent of increased access to benefits as a result thereof. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of The Pension Service.
Since April 2005 The Pension Service has offered a full holistic benefit entitlement check on all visits to customers, as a standard service. Also a specific campaign has been run to contact customers we believe to be highly eligible for additional benefits. Between April and October 2005 The Pension Service made 106,427 approaches by letter, 16,291 by telephone, and 9,039 through visits. As a result of the campaign and routine visits 549,849 customers were offered a benefit entitlement check.
It is not possible to separate the costs of the full entitlement check from other Local Service activity however, the additional cost of the entitlement campaign from AprilOctober 2005 was £1,088,000. The cumulative value of additional benefit generated over a full year is estimated at £350 million.
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