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16 Jan 2006 : Column 1044W—continued

Departmental Staff

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Department spent on activities relating to the recruitment of head count to the Department in each year from 1997; what the latestestimates are for (a) 2005–06, (b) 2006–07 and (c) 2007–08; and if he will make a statement. [32432]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 28 November 2005]: The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

EU Directive on Working at Heights

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the implications for sport of the EU directive on working at heights. [42707]

Mrs. McGuire: While we are keen to promote all sporting activity on the basis of sensible risk, in this case no assessment is required. This is because the directive and regulations only apply to persons at work and not to private individuals participating in sports activities.

Gershon Review

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the implementation of the Gershon review in his Department. [34383]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department is on track to meet its Gershon review efficiency targets. Progress against the targets has been reported in the department's autumn performance report which was laid before Parliament on 15 December 2005.
16 Jan 2006 : Column 1045W

Habitual Residence Test

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2005, Official Report, column 1048W, on the Habitual Residence Test, if he will change the rules for non-contributory benefits so that those who make sufficient contributions to a contributory benefit to enable them to obtain half of the maximum are deemed to have passed the habitual residency test. [38197]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Habitual Residence Test is only applied to income-related benefits and people who qualify for a contributory benefit such as contribution based jobseeker's allowance will not be subject to the test. There is already provision in regulations which allows EEA nationals who have been working in the UK to be treated as habitually resident if they claim an income-related benefit. In line with EC case law, a returning UK national who has previously worked in the UK is likely to pass the Habitual Residence Test immediately. Non-EEA nationals who work in the UK are usually subject to immigration control and have no recourse to public funds. As such they have no access to income-related benefits and therefore would not be subject to the Habitual Residence Test.

Job Vacancies (London)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many job vacancies there were in each London borough per 1,000 working age population on the most recent date for which figures are available; how many there were 12 months prior to this date; and what the current national vacancy rate is per 1,000 of working age population. [40680]

Margaret Hodge: The number of vacancies remains at a historically high level. More than 10,000 new vacancies are placed at Jobcentres every working day and at least as many again are filled through other recruitment channels.

The latest vacancy survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates there were 600.2 thousand unfilled vacancies in the quarter to November 2005, compared to 641.7 thousand this time last year. The ONS vacancy ratio for the UK for November 2005 (the latest data) is 2.3. This is the number of vacancies per 100 employee jobs.

The specific information requested for London is not available. The available information on recorded unfilled Jobcentre Plus vacancies for the London boroughs at November 2004 and 2005 is in the table.
November 2004November 2005
Barking and Dagenham1,9951,138
City of London732772
Hammersmith and Fulham1,4391,406
Kensington and Chelsea1,3161,280
Tower Hamlets2,4031,657
Waltham Forest2,2901,189
Westminster, City of8,5984,118

16 Jan 2006 : Column 1046W

Pension Credit

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the change in take-up of pension credit has been in each quarter since it was introduced. [41569]

Mr. Timms: The information requested is not available. Latest estimates of pensioners' take-up of the main income-related benefits relate to financial year 2002–03 and predates the introduction of pension credit. Estimates for minimum income guarantee, the predecessor to pension credit, can be found in the DWP report entitled Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2002/2003". Copies of the publication are available in the Library.

Estimates of pension credit will be published in early 2006; this publication will include the first six months of pension credit. Estimates for the full year 2004–05 are expected to be published in May 2006. This information is only available on an annual basis.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in Hendon receive pension credit (a) savings element and (b) guarantee element; what the average award was in each case in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [41218]

Mr. Timms: The available information is in the table.
Pension credit recipients in the Hendon constituency as at 30 September 2005 with pension credit average amounts for recipients in the Hendon constituency as at 16 September 2005

Household recipients

Average amounts
(£ per week)
Guarantee credit (GC) only2,30093.16
Savings credit (SC) only60010.58
GC and SC1,50040.63

1.Caseloads are rounded to the nearest hundred, average amounts are given to the nearest penny.
2.Pension credit (PC) replaced minimum income guarantee (MIG) on 6 October 2003. Existing MIG recipients were automatically converted onto pension credit on that date (assuming they still met the eligibility criteria).
3.PC data from the Generalised Matching Service (CMS) 100 per cent. scan taken on 16 September 2005. The caseloads have been rated up to give month-end estimates, but the average amounts have been supplied in an un-adjusted form, therefore they are representative of 16 September 2005.
4.These figures are early estimates. Operational processing times mean that a number of claim commencements and terminations are not reflected in the figures. The final figures incorporated within the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) will take account of such cases.
Information Directorate 100 per cent. data

16 Jan 2006 : Column 1047W

Post Office Card Accounts

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department allows the Post Office to recognise representatives acting under Power of Attorney with regard to accessing Post Office card accounts; and if he will make a statement. [40666]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Post Office card account is a banking product owned by Post Office Ltd., and it is for them to set the terms by which they and the customer agree to operate the account under the usual Financial Services Authority licences and regulations. The Post Office card account does not support Power of Attorney.

Customers who are not capable of managing their own affairs may apply to have a person appointed by the Secretary of State to act on their behalf. An appointee can open a Post Office card account in their own name to receive any benefit or pension paid to them in respect of the customer.

Most banks and building societies have accounts (many of which are accessible at the Post Office) that will allow someone, including a person who holds Power of Attorney, to access a customer's account. The precise arrangements will depend on the type of account held and with which account provider.

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