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James Purnell: The Pensions Commission has made a thorough analysis of the changing demographic position in the UK. Today there are four workers to every pensioner. By 2050, it is expected that there will be only be two workers to every pensioner in the UK.
We are determined to meet the challenge of an ageing population. Any reform we take forward will be guided by five key tests: whether it promotes personal responsibility, is simple, fair, affordable and sustainable.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department will seek an increase in funding of the Financial Assistance Scheme in the next spending review; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when former employees of Triplex Components Group Ltd. of Walton, Peterborough will have their cases expedited under the financial assistance scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
James Purnell: The Triplex scheme has been determined to be a qualifying pension scheme. As the scheme is still in the process of winding up, the FAS operational unit will not yet be able to calculate final payments. However, trustees are able to request that the FAS scheme manager make initial payments to eligible survivors, or to those members who have already reached the age of 65 or who are terminally ill.
James Purnell: It will not be possible to provide firm estimates until we have assessed the eligibility of each scheme and its members. Our current estimates in current cash terms, based on data provided by a number of schemes in late 2004, are shown in the following table. The estimates will change in the light of improved information. Over the longer term we estimate expenditure to be broadly in line with£20 million over 20 years.
|Pay 80 per cent. to those within three years of Scheme Pension Age|
|£ million, cash|
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Workand Pensions what initiatives his Department andits non-departmental bodies support to promote (a) financial education, (b) financial advice, (c) financial inclusion and (d) financial capability; which organisations are involved in delivering each initiative; and how much funding is provided to each by (i) his Department and its non-departmental public bodies, (ii) other Government Departments, (iii) the private sector and (iv) the voluntary sector. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Through the Pensions Education Fund, the Department for Work and Pensions is undertaking an initiative from January 2006 to March 2008 offering funding to local and national not-for-profit organisations (such as trades unions, charities, trade associations and the voluntary sector), to use innovative ways to increase financial awareness and encourage working people to provide for their retirement. The objective of the fund is to deliver better retirement planning information to individuals in the workplace.
The Department for Work and Pensions is making £5.5 million available to fund initiatives, selected through the Pensions Education Fund bidding process. Projects will be delivered in the period January 2006 to March 2008.
As part of the Governments strategy to increase access to affordable credit, we are introducing the Growth Fund from summer 2006. The Growth Fund will be used to increase the availability of affordable personal loans to financially excluded people, and will be delivered by low cost lenders from the not-for-profit and private sector.
As part of the Governments strategy to increase access to banking, we introduced universal banking and the Payment Modernisation Programme during 2002-05. This resulted in more than 10 million people receiving information from us about the types of account available prior to moving from payment by order book to payment into an account and, importantly, using their account on a regular basis to conduct their business.
Implementation costs of the deductions scheme and the Growth Fund are funded by the Financial Inclusion Fund. Final figures for the deductions scheme are not yet available but we do not expect to spend as much as the £10 million allocated for both initiatives.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will request the Pensions Regulator to publish details of the background to his decision in the case of the Kvaerner Pension Fund. 
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will ensure that the pension forecasting team states in correspondence with inquirers whether national insurance data has been taken into account when making a pension forecast. 
James Purnell: Customers are advised in their state pension forecasts that the information is based on their national insurance (NI) record. This information is provided to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by Her Majestys Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and sourced from their national insurance recording system (NIRS).
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on how many occasions Ministers of State in his Department stayed overnight in (a) five star, (b) four star and (c) three star hotels on foreign visits in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Hain: In the last three years, there was only one foreign visit by a Wales Office Minister, to China in April 2004. Three five star hotels were used and the booking arrangements were made by the Foreign Commonwealth Office, at a Government negotiated rate, on behalf of the Wales Office.
Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year, this information includes accommodation costs. Copies are available in the Library.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on how many occasions (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department have stayed overnight in (i) five star, (ii) four star and (iii) three star hotels in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Hain: Travel and subsistence rules do not require the claim to state the star rating of the accommodation used. Claims are limited under those rules to set maximum values, both in the UK and, under Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance, overseas.
Therefore the information is not held by the Wales Office and can be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
In the case of a ministerial visit to China in April 2004 supporting officials and special advisers were accommodated in five star hotels in the three cities visited. These were booked by the FCO, at a Government discounted rate.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the total cost was of overnight accommodation for (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department staying overnight in(i) mainland Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland,(iii) the Republic of Ireland and (iv) other countries in each of the last three years. 
|Great Britain and Northern Ireland||Republic of Ireland||Overseas|
Expenditure records kept do not differentiate between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so are given as one sum. Expenditure records kept prior to 2004 did not separate any accommodation costs and this could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what meetings officials in his Department have had with representatives of the public relations company Portland PR; what contracts Portland PR has with his Department; and what the nature of the contract is in each case 
Mr. Hain: The Department does not maintain a central list of such meetings. Civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and business delivery. All such meetings are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Code and Guidance for civil servants on contacts with lobbyists and people outside Government. There have been no such contracts.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Wales how much has been paid in (a) salary, (b) travelling expenses, (c) subsistence allowance and (d) removal expenses to special advisers in his private office in each of the last five years. 
Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each pay band. For information relating to the last financial year I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statementmade by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on21 July 2005, Official Report, columns 158-61WS.
In 2004-05 the Wales Office paid £552.96 in subsistence and £613.90 in travelling expenses, and in 2005-06 the Wales Office paid £317.90 in subsistence and £319.80 in travelling expenses to special advisers.
Records kept before 2004 do not separate these costs, and this could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. All official travel by special advisers is undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code.
Mr. Hain: The Wales Office held a staff away day in February 2003. Expenditure records for that period do not separate this cost. This could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. A team-building event was held at the beginning of this financial year, but has not yet been brought to account.
Mr. Woolas: The Audit Commission has fixed its fee scales for the vast majority of non Best Value local (parish and town) councils from 2006 until 2011 following a consultation exercise with the sector.
In addition, a significant number of local councils will see a reduction in fees following the recent amendments to the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003, which increased the threshold at which local councils are eligible for the limited assurance regime from £500,000 to £1 million. A further reduction in the burden for smaller local councils is achieved by increasing the threshold at which local councils may account on the basis of receipts and payments from £100,000 to £200,000.
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