|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
[holding answer 6 February 2006]: Information about local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation is collected in respect of households, rather than persons, and distinguishes the number accepted as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category. Following extensions to these categories in July 2002, persons vulnerable as a result of having
27 Feb 2006 : Column 168W
served in Her Majesty's regular armed forces have a priority need for accommodation, and the number accepted for this reason are separately identified. Ex emergency service personnelthat is, police, fire service and the ambulance service, are not a designated priority need group, and such applicants are not identified in statistical returns.
Based on information supplied by local authorities, it is estimated that around 20 or 30 cases involving vulnerable ex-forces personnel are accepted nationally each quarter, representing just 0.1 per cent. of all acceptances.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Information on the number of schools inspected by fire officers is not collated centrally; however, the total number of fire inspections that were carried out in schools (excluding follow-up inspections) is available from 199899, and is presented in the table:
|Inspections (excluding follow-up)|
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many schools are exempted by fire authorities from the requirement to certify parts of the school designated by order under the Fire Precautions Act 1971. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Injury awards currently provided for in the Firefighters' Pension Scheme are not part of the contributory pension arrangements and to satisfy the requirements of the new pension tax regime which comes into operation on 6 April, the Government are in process of establishing a separate Firefighters' Compensation Scheme. No change will be made to the arrangements which will continue to be based on an assessment of the loss of earnings capacity as a consequence of a duty related injury.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is preparing for consultation proposals for new compensation
27 Feb 2006 : Column 170W
arrangements. The objective will be to ensure that future arrangements are more equitable and meet the future needs of the Fire and Rescue Service.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister undertook a review of the published literature on the physiological capability of firefighters to perform their operational duties. The literature review was wide ranging, but included the effects of age. It was published on the ODPM website in December 2004.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of firefighters retiring on the grounds of ill-health in West Lancashire is not available centrally. However, the number of firefighters that retired on the grounds of ill-health in the Lancashire fire and rescue service and England in each year is presented in the following table:
| Lancashire|| England(51)|
|Whole-time firefighter||Retained duty system firefighter||Total||Whole-time firefighter||Retained duty system firefighter||Total|
Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of retained duty system firefighters in each region of England is presented in the table. However, information on the number of vacancies in each region is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
|Government Office Region||31 March 2005(52)|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||971|
|East of England||2,213|
Norman Lamb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many areas in England are reliant on retained firefighters rather than full-time firefighters; how many of these areas have a full quota of retained firefighters; and in how many of these areas there are unfilled vacancies for retained firefighters. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The following table sets out the proportion of fire stations in each fire and rescue service area that are wholly operated by retained duty system firefighters. Four of these areas have a full quota of retained duty system firefighters. Information on unfilled vacancies is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Fire and Rescue Service Area
|Percentage of fire stations wholly operated by retained duty system|
|Isle of Wight||90|
|Isles of Scilly||83|
|Hereford and Worcester||70|
|Bedfordshire and Luton||50|
|County Durham and Darlington||47|
|Tyne and Wear||5|
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment has been made of the possible impact of the increased retirement age under the proposed new firefighters' pension scheme on the health and safety of firefighters. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: There is no compulsory retirement age for firefighters and, subject to fitness, firefighters may remain in employment in the Fire and Rescue Service beyond the current normal pension age of 55.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is satisfied that with improved standards of fitness and good quality occupational health arrangements, there should not be any adverse impact on the health and safety of firefighters when from April 2006 the normal pension age for new entrant firefighters is set at age 60. There are now greater opportunities for firefighters to develop competencies in supporting the wider functions of the Service as provided for in the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and in particular in promoting fire safety.
The minimum pension age under the proposed new firefighters' pension scheme will be age 55 and fire and rescue authorities will have the discretion to allow scheme members to retire with a pension from this age.
27 Feb 2006 : Column 172W
Jim Fitzpatrick: Information on the number of firefighters that have been employed in Gravesham is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the number of firefighters employed in Kent fire and rescue service in each year since 199697 is presented in the following table.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) full-time and (b) retained firefighters have taken early retirement in (i) Gravesham and (ii) Kent in each year since 199697; and what assessment he has made of the frequency of reasons given for early retirement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Information on the number of firefighters that have taken early retirement in Gravesham and Kent is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the number of firefighters that have retired on the grounds of ill health in the Kent fire and rescue service in each year since 199899 is presented in the following table. Separate information on ill health retirements in Gravesham and information on ill health retirements for individual fire and rescue services prior to 199899 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Woolas: Funding for the Firefighters' Pension Scheme was not separately identified within the grant distributed to Fire and Rescue Authorities for the years between 1997 and 2005. From the 1 April 2006 the new arrangements for financing firefighter pensions will ensure that funding allocated to support the cost of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme is separately identified. This is designed to increase transparency in authorities' budgets, in that they will more accurately reflect the ongoing accruing costs of providing the frontline service.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|