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16 Feb 2006 : Column 2443W—continued

Pathways to Work

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the nationwide roll-out of Pathways to Work proposed in the recent Green Paper will apply only to new claimants; and what the estimated cost is of rolling out the scheme nationwide to all existing claimants over the same period. [50185]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 13 February 2006]: We have secured £360 million to complete the national roll-out of Pathways to Work. This is in addition to the £147 million already allocated to complete roll-out to the 21 pilots.

The support provided through Pathways to Work will, as now in pilot areas, be available to new claimants and existing claimants, but will not be mandatory for existing claimants. In Pathways to Work pilot areas, nearly 10 per cent. of all new participants are voluntary existing claimants.

All the evidence suggests that the best time to offer advice and support is before an individual loses their job and as quickly as possible after an individual has made a claim to incapacity benefits. But no-one will be left behind and we intend to invite all existing claimants to an interview with an adviser over the next two to three years to ensure they are made fully aware of the support available to them.

Pension Protection Fund

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the estimated liability is for the benefits that will be paid by the Pension Protection Fund if all the pension schemes now in an assessment period are admitted to the Fund. [42530]

Mr. Timms: Calculating the value of the various assets and liabilities of the schemes currently in an assessment period is a major part of the ongoing work for the PPF. It is difficult to provide exact figures at this time, since the full valuation information contained within the section 143 valuation is not yet available for those schemes

However, the PPF have provided the following information:


 
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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received from the European Commission on the compatibility of the provisions of the Pensions Protection Fund with Article 8 of the European Insolvency Rights Directive. [51449]

Mr. Timms: None.

The Commission is, however, in the process of reviewing how the complete regulatory framework of all member states complies with the Directive. The Commission has asked member states for information on how they comply with the Directive, before it can establish an opinion about the overall compliance with the Directive. It plans to issue a report on the implementation of Article 8 of the Directive in all member states, in the first half of 2006. This report will also include an evaluation of the UK regulatory system in force at present.

Pensions

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average percentage increase in the standard single pension for senior citizens is in 2006. [52471]

Mr. Timms: The draft Social Security Benefit Up-rating Order 2006 laid before Parliament on 25 January 2006 provides for State Pensions to be increased by 2.7 per cent. from 10 April 2006 in line with the growth in the Retail Prices Index in the year to September 2005. We expect similar provisions to be made for Northern Ireland.

Pensions Regulator

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what evaluation he has made of the work of the new pensions regulator. [47103]

Mr. Timms: I would refer the hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 6 February 2006, Official Report, column 857W.

Post Office Card Account

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the future of the Post Office card account. [51996]

Mr. Plaskitt: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 31 January 2006, Official Report, columns 443–44W.

Print/Broadcast Media

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library copies of (a) print and (b) broadcast media reports undertaken for his Department since 2002. [37030]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department is committed to the publication of evaluation data and will ensure that all existing media analysis data is placed in the DWP catalogue by April 2006.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned research into the presence and reporting in the (i) broadcast and (ii) print media of the hon. Member for Yeovil since 5 May. [37032]


 
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Mrs. McGuire: We do not currently evaluate broadcast media coverage.

Departmental analysis of print media activity monitors coverage of departmental policies and services. Only comments made by the hon. Member in his capacity as Front-Bench spokesman will be included in that analysis.

Rates

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was paid by his Department in rates to each local authority in the UK in 2004–05; and how much was paid in (a) each (i) nation and (ii) region of the UK and (b) London. [35990]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department's estate has been sold or transferred under a PFI partnership deal to Land Securities Trillium (LST) and in return for the payment of a unitary charge LST is responsible for providing a full facilities management service across the estate. Therefore, the Department is not liable for any business rates.

However, in a few sites, the Department has an agreement to pay rates in lieu of reduced accommodation charges, where the Department has a tenancy on estate managed by another Government Department. The Department has paid the following amounts to rateable authorities on the general ledger for 2004–05:
£
England1,701,009
of which:
Paid within London91,200
Wales24,920
Scotland34,024

Please note that this response excludes the Health and Safety Executive, an Executive non-departmental public body and the Rent Service, an Executive agency, as their records are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Returning to Work

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with representatives of general practitioners regarding developing their role in supporting patients' return to work; whether these discussions have included proposals for general practitioners to monitor patients' suitability for incapacity benefit; and when he expects to publish the range of initiatives to provide the support to general practitioners necessary to assist patients in returning to work as described in paragraph 2.19 of the White Paper, Our Health, Our Care, Our Say". [49534]

Margaret Hodge: The Department is working closely with representatives of General Practitioners in the development of initiatives designed to help GPs support patients with health conditions or disabilities so that they can remain in or return to work.
 
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Discussions have been held with the General Practitioner Committee of the British Medical Association (BMA) and with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). Discussions have included the role of the GP in providing basic fitness for work advice for patients and in helping more patients manage health conditions so that they can remain in work.

The White Paper referred to was published by the Secretary of State for Health and in this context the reference on page 29 to initiatives to support GPs was intentionally brief. Our proposed initiatives are set out in greater detail in our recently

published Green Paper: A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work; at page 34 paragraph 43.


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