|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Timms: The Government welcomes the broad framework of the Pensions Commission's proposals and options which were published on 30 November 2005, and believe they are the right basis for the debate to come.
The Government will now need to reflect on the report and are committed to consulting with the public and stakeholders on these key issues as part of the National Pensions Debate. There is much to be discussed and decided on the detail of that framework and our response must meet the five tests we have set outthat our overall package of reforms must promote personal responsibility; must be fair, affordable, simple and sustainable.
We will launch the next stage of the National Pensions Debate in the new year and will continue to talk with people of all ages, in all parts of the country and across all political parties. We want to continue to listen to everyone's views so that we create ownership of the challenges and the possible solutions.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost incurred by the Department in defending and settling Performance and Development System related cases was in (a) 2003 and (b) 2004 appraisal years. 
This is the total figure, spanning the 2003 and 2004 appraisal years. The information for each separate year is not available as the cases run across the reporting year and the Department's solicitors branch is unable to break the data down.
Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions why the basic Post Office bank account is not able to receive payments through housing benefit and income support benefit cheques. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Post Office card account is a simple account with very limited functions. It was specifically designed to receive payments of benefits and pensions administered by central government.
The Post Office card account does not have a facility for the account holder to make payments to a third party (i.e. their landlord) by standing order, so is not a suitable account to receive payments of housing benefit
9 Jan 2006 : Column 101W
or the local housing allowance which is currently being piloted. Most housing benefit customers already have a suitable bank account that can be used to receive their payments from which they can make payments directly to their landlord.
The Post Office card account was introduced as a stepping stone for those who did not feel that they were yet ready to make use of even a basic bank account. Should someone feel that they now need an account with more facilities then they should consider moving to an account which better suits their needs. Customers who have opened and operated a card account have demonstrated that they are now capable of using a basic bank account. There are a large number of current and basic bank accounts which can be accessed at Post Offices, if this is important to housing benefit recipients.
DWP cheques are designed for those people who we cannot pay into an account. There is no need for a facility to pay DWP cheques into Post Office card accounts. If customers, including those receiving income support, want to put their money into a card account then we can do this directly for them without needing to issue a cheque.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the value was of (a) public opinion research and (b) public relations contracts awarded by his Department in 200405 in (i) each (A) nation and (B)region of the UK and (ii) London. 
For the Age Positive campaign the cost has been £420,000.00. (England £252,00.00, Scotland £84,000.00 and Wales £84,000.00). The cost for the Disability Discrimination Act campaign was £140,000.00.
9 Jan 2006 : Column 102W
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Race Equality Impact Assessments his Department completed between (a) April 2004 and March 2005 and (b) April 2005 and November 2005; and how many assessments in each period resulted in a change of policy. 
Mrs. McGuire: During the period from April 2004 to March 2005, 19 race equality impact assessments were completed. From April this year up to the end of September we have completed 24. The figures for October and November will be included in the return we undertake for the quarter ending December 2005.
There have been no major changes in policy as a result of conducting impact assessments; however, as a result we have made more explicit references to diversity principles, particularly in our Human Resource Policies and we have strengthened our monitoring and evaluation processes.
One area where we are undertaking more work is in relation to the Government's efficiency challenge where we have identified the need, particularly in the London area, to ensure that our proposals meet the needs of ethnic minority customers, particularly those with English as a second language.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the national targets are for The Rent Service; and what the performance of offices in South Devon is in relation to those targets. 
In reply to your recent parliamentary question about The Rent Service's (TRS) national targets and the performance of offices in South Devon against those targets, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive of The Rent Service.
|Type of determination||National target||Exeter office1, 2|
|With an inspection||93% within 15 working days||98.9% within 15 working days|
|Without an inspection||93% within 3 working days||99.7% within 3 working days|
|Pre-tenancy||93% within 4 working days||99.7% within 4 working days|
|Redeterminations||93% within 15 working days||98.2% within 15 working days|
|Fair rents||93% within 40 working days||99.3% within 40 working days|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|