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Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what criteria he used in determining whether to continue the single room rent upper limit on housing benefit provisions for those aged under 25 years. 
Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment the Government have made of the effect of the age discrimination clauses in the Equality Bill of the legality of the single room rent upper limit on housing benefit provisions for those aged under 25 years. 
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the (a) total and (b) net cost of (i) integrating the proposed Identity Card Scheme into his Department's IT systems and (ii)the ongoing operation of the scheme within his Department. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Department for Work and Pensions has, in consultation with the Identity Cards programme, developed its current best estimate of the cost of using the ID Cards Scheme to support the services which it oversees and these costs have been incorporated into the business case. The Department is represented on the Ministerial Committee on Identity Cards which oversees the work on benefits planning and realisation.
In deriving these estimates account has to be taken of the types of use required to support the particular services which this Department oversees. Not all services will require a high degree of integration between the Identity Cards Scheme and other IT systems. Where there may be a need for integration, some costs can be absorbed into the usual cycles of system upgrades and technology refreshes.
We cannot release the detailed estimated costs for integrating IT systems and the ongoing operation of the Identity Cards Scheme within the Department and the services which it oversees at this stage as these elements may be acquired from the market. The estimates are therefore commercially sensitive and to release them may prejudice the procurement process and the Department's ability to obtain value for money from potential suppliers.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobcentre Plus clients live more than 20 miles away from their nearest Jobcentre Plus office; and what arrangements are made to assist with their travel requirements. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning how many Jobcentre Plus clients live more than 20 miles away from their nearest Jobcentre Plus office; and what arrangements are made to assist with their travel requirements. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
We do not hold information on the distance our customers have to travel to their nearest Jobcentre Plus office. However, this government is investing in modern, welcoming offices which provide a single point of access to Jobcentre Plus services.
In planning the new network of Jobcentre Plus offices, local managers take into account many factors including population spread, availability and cost of public transport and the distance between offices. We aim to locate our new offices where there are good transport links. Inevitably as the office network changes, there will be some customers who will find they will have to travel further. Jobcentre Plus is actively working with local partners to ensure these hard to reach communities have access to services.
In many locations, particularly rural locations, we are often able to provide outreach facilities, ensuring access to job vacancies, advice and information through third party premises. In practice this means that with our new network, very few of our customers would have to travel more than 20 miles to access Jobcentre Plus services, other than in the most remote rural areas.
Customers are now using our offices differently. More of our face-to-face customer contact is on an appointment basis and information on job vacancies is readily available by telephone and the internet. This enables staff in our offices to focus on those customers in greatest need of support.
There are long established rules for reimbursing travelling costs for Jobseeker's Allowance customers attending a Work Focused Interview, principally where the interview does not fall on their normal signing day. For normal fortnightly attendance to sign-on, customers are expected to meet the cost of their journey to the office. Where the closure of an office means customers having to travel over an hour to the nearest office, we will consider if postal signing is appropriate. Customers in receipt of Income Support and Incapacity Benefit can claim for reimbursement of their expenses in a similar way when requested to attend the office.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 9 November 2005, Official Report, column 548W, on the Link-Age pilots, where each pilot is located; and how each pilot will be evaluated. 
Mr. Timms: The pilot sites for the second phase of Link-Age are in the process of being agreed DWP is working in partnership with the Department of Health, the social exclusion unit, Better Government for Older People, Help the Aged, Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau, and the Local Government Association to identify the criteria against which the pilots will be selected. An evaluation plan is being designed alongside the pilot selection criteria. The location of pilot sites and the evaluation plan will be announced shortly.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Stroud (a) received the state pension and (b) (i) applied for and (ii) received pension credit in each of the last five years; and what the average pension credit payment was in each year. 
Information on the number of people who have applied for pension credit is not available in respect of individual constituencies. pension credit was introduced from October 2003. Information on numbers of households and individuals in receipt of pension credit at 30 June 2005 is contained in the most recent quarterly pension credit progress report published on 20 October. The report is available in the Library.
|Household recipients||Individual beneficiaries||Average weekly amount|
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