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24 Jan 2006 : Column 2057W—continued

Pension Credit

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many single women pension credit recipients are in receipt of the guaranteed credit, broken down by constituency. [43375]

Mr. Timms: I have placed the requested information in the Library.

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the average time taken to process applications for pension credit. [44506]

Mr. Timms: The Pension Service's internal target for processing applications for pension credit is 10 working days. The average time taken as at December 2005 was 8.66 working days. The year to date figure is 8.63 working days.

Pension Service Partnership Fund

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the work of the Pension Service Partnership Fund. [45197]

Mr. Timms: The objective of The Pension Service Partnership Fund is to pilot ways of increasing benefit take-up, particularly among harder to reach older people. The focus is on innovative partnership approaches involving local authorities and the voluntary and community sector. The Department for Work and Pensions awarded 172 contracts with a total value of £13 million. The majority of contracts run for two years from March 2005, although there are a number of shorter contracts which will terminate later this year.

All Fund contractors provide regular statistical returns and narrative reports to the DWP on the progress of their activity which will inform both the evaluation of the individual schemes and the fund as a whole.
 
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Learning and best practice will be shared with partner organisations, and other interested groups, towards the end of the two year contract period; in the interim, a regular update is provided to partner organisations through the Partnerships Against Poverty Forum.

Pensions

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many companies have been fined for failing to offer stakeholder pensions in each year since 2002. [44507]

Mr. Timms: Since 2002 one employer has been fined for failing to designate a stakeholder Pension. This fine was imposed by the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA) in 2003.

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the number of companies which are required to offer stakeholder pensions but do not. [44508]

Mr. Timms: Employers with five or more employees and who do not offer an occupational pension scheme to the whole of the work force, or do not offer at least a 3 per cent. employer contribution to a personal pension, are required to designate a stakeholder pension scheme. There are an estimated 350,000 such firms at any one time, and it is estimated that around 70,000 of those are not complying with the requirement to designate a stakeholder pension scheme. Of those non-compliant firms, it is estimated that nearly 80 per cent. have fewer than 10 employees.

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what circumstances an individual may receive pension payments by cheque. [44412]

Mr. Plaskitt: Cheque payments, which are cashable at a post office, are available for those customers who are unable to open or manage a bank account to support the direct payment method. This might be through illness or disability, or because they rely on different carers to collect their money for them.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many representations on pensions policy have been received by his Department since the publication of Lord Turner's final report on 30 November 2005; and if he will publish them. [41342]

Mr. Timms: Since the publication of The Pensions Commission's final report, the Department has received in excess of 800 letters from members of the public on pensions policy, 240 of these directly responding to the Pensions Commission's recommendations.

In addition, as part of the wider National Pensions Debate, DWP Ministers' have engaged with a wide range of members of political parties, stakeholders and members of the public about pensions policy.

As these individual representations were not invited as part of a formal consultation process on Government proposals for reform, we do not intend to publish them.

However, all of these discussions and the correspondence we have received will Inform the next stages of the National Pensions Debate which will in turn inform ministerial decisions on pensions reform.
 
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The Government will work towards the publication of a White Paper in the spring which will set out its response to the Pensions Commission's recommendations. This will include a summary of the main themes of the representations received as part of the National Pensions Debate. A formal consultation exercise on the Government's proposals will be launched with publication of the White Paper.

Post Office

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people use the Post Office card account for receipt of (a) state pension, (b) pension credit and (c) other benefits (i) in total and (ii) broken down by region. [45370]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available in the format requested. The following table shows the latest available information on the number of benefit and pension accounts which are paid by direct payment into a Post Office card account.
Number

RegionState retirement pensionPension creditOther benefits
North East109,20066,500127,100
North West252,000133,000274,200
Yorkshire and Humber194,20097,600166,800
East Midlands149,50065,500106,700
West Midlands194,600104,600165,000
East of England153,90066,30089,400
London123,50085,700194,600
South East182,40073,300112,400
South West181,00068,40097,100
Wales152,30067,800146,500
Scotland193,900108,000205,800
Total1,886,500936,7001,685,600




Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.
2. Figures refer to payment accounts.
3. People in receipt of more than one benefit/pension will be counted for each separate benefit/pension in payment.
4. People who have their benefit/pension combined and paid at the same time will only be counted through the paying benefit.




Winter Fuel Payments Allowance

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many UK nationals who are residents of (a) Florida, (b) Spain, (c) Italy, (d) South Africa and (e) Australia are in receipt of the winter fuel payments allowance; and at what cost to public funds in 2005–06. [43422]

Mr. Timms: Citizenship does not affect entitlement to a winter fuel payment as entitlement is based on residency in the UK. So far this winter we have made 20,373 winter fuel payments to qualifying former UK residents now living in Spain at a cost of £3,215,200 and 545 winter fuel payments to qualifying former UK residents now living in Italy at a cost of £90,400.

People who are resident in Florida, South Africa and Australia are not entitled to winter fuel payments. We are aware of a very small number of cases where people have received payment in countries outside the EEA. This has been where notification of their change of circumstances has been received after payments have been issued, in these cases payments are stopped and repayment sought.
 
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Workplace Accidents and Health Report

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the letter sent to hon. and right hon. Members on 14 November on the Health and Safety Executive's annual report on workplace accidents and health, if he will make available the equivalent figures for last year. [40365]

Mrs. McGuire: The information has been placed in the Library.


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