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Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what criteria were used to make decisions on changes in staffing levels taking effect between March 2004 and March 2008 for agencies of the Department, with particular reference to their application to the Pension Service; what assessment he has made of the changes in service levels necessitated by staffing changes, including partnership agreements with local authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
The Departments headcount reduction challenge was determined primarily on the basis of productivity improvements delivered from the Departments modernisation projects and programmes. These include improvements to IT infrastructure, more efficient
procurement, benefit and policy simplification, and re-engineering of business processes and organisations. These improvements will mean the Department will require fewer staff to deliver its services.
Among the measures introduced is a comprehensive transformation of the Pension Service that will deliver improved customer service and encourage take-up, while achieving significantly increased productivity and efficiency. The Pension Service headcount reductions are to be realised primarily from the Pension Transformation Programme.
The Departments efficiency target will be met if the overall efficiency savings, including the staff savings, are achieved without detriment to performance across all areas of DWPs activity and our customers, including corporate customers such as local authorities, experience no diminution in the service they receive. Latest details of performance can be found in the departmental report which was laid before the House on 11 May 2006.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of pensioners will be eligible for means-tested assistance (a) under present policies and (b) under the proposals in the White Paper in each year up to 2020. 
James Purnell [holding answer 22 June 2006]: The information requested is not available in full. Information relating to pension credit is shown in the following tables. This includes the majority of pensioner households eligible for means-tested assistance.
|Table 1: Estimated proportion of pensioner households eligible for pension credit under the current system|
|Table 2: Projected proportion of pensioner households eligible for pension credit for selected years under the current system and the White Paper proposals|
|Current system||White Paper proposals|
| Notes: 1. Projections of the proportion of pensioner households eligible for pension credit are sensitive to modelling assumptions and to projected changes in the distribution of pensioner incomes. 2. The estimate of proportions shown are the mid-points of projections taken from two separate micro-simulation models. Modelling of the reform proposals does not assume any increase in private saving from the introduction of personal accounts, which would further reduce the numbers eligible for pension credit. 3. The projections under the current system assume that basic state pension is uprated in line with prices and the standard guarantee credit with earnings each year. It should be noted that there is a Government commitment to uprate the standard guarantee credit with earnings until 2008. Treasury projections for the current system assume price uprating of the standard guarantee credit beyond 2008. 4. The reform projections assume: continued earnings uprating of the standard guarantee credit; the savings credit maximum is uprated by earnings from 2008 and then by prices from 2015; earnings uprating of the basic state pension from 2012; measures to improve coverage of the basic state pension described in the White Paper. 5. Estimates cover all those aged above womens state pension age in the private household population of Great Britain. 6. Estimates account for equalisation of state pension age between 2010 and 2020. 7. Estimates are calibrated to the mid-points of the 2004-05 National Statistics range estimates of non-eligibility to pension credit, which adjust 2004-05 Family Resources Survey data to take account of possible biases in reporting. Although the estimates are not presented as ranges, they are subject to a margin of uncertainty.|
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether before implementation the revised Personal Capability Assessment will be subject to an independent pilot and evaluation which will examine the impact on people with (a) mental illness, (b) learning disability and (c) autistic spectrum disorder. 
Mrs. McGuire: As part of our transformation of the Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) we are working to improve the way that the assessment deals with the problems and difficulties that individuals with these conditions face.
To ensure that the review does just this, we have set up two working groups to look at the mental health component of the PCA. This review includes technical or medical experts from the field of mental health and learning disabilities as well as representatives from key stakeholder groups. MENCAP and the National Autistic Society are fully involved in the working groups carrying out the review.
When we have completed the review of the PCA we intend to test the changes to evaluate their effectiveness. The evaluation will look at the impact of the revised PCA on people with mental illness, learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders.
Mr. Plaskitt: We are not phasing out the Post Office card account. We will fulfil our contractual obligations to fund the Post Office card account until March 2010 as was always clear when the contract was signed with Post Office Ltd. in March 2002.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for which services (a) his Department and (b) its associated public bodies hold contracts with the Post Office; and what the (i) start and (ii) termination date is of each contract. 
The Post Office card account contract, which was signed in March 2002 and will end on 31 March 2010.
A contract to ensure that customers who are receiving payment by cheque can continue to collect their cheques in the event of disruption to normal delivery services. The contract began in February 2005 and will be reviewed prior to its end date, which is March 2007.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what services (a) his Department and (b) its associated public bodies (i) make available and (ii) have made available in the last five years through the post office network; through how many outlets the service is or was made available; and how many relevant transactions were undertaken in each case in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Since April 2003, DWP customers who receive their payments by direct payment into a Post Office card account have been able to collect their money from post office branches. Between April 2005 and March 2006, 210.3 million DWP payments were made into a Post Office card account.
Customers who cannot be paid by direct payment are paid by cheque. Through the Departments relationship with the Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank plc., cheque payments with a value of less than £450.00 can be cashed at all post office branches. Between 24 March 2005 and 22 March 2006, 27.6 million DWP cheques were cashed at post office branches.
Since 1 February 2005 the Department has also had a contract with Post Office Ltd. to ensure that customers can continue to receive cheque payments in the event of disruption to normal postal delivery services.
Up to 31 May 2005 a contract was in place for the payment of DWP benefits and pensions by order book. This contract was terminated as part of the Governments plan to modernise the way benefits and pensions are paid. In April and May 2005 25,840 order book foils were cashed at post office branches.
Prior to 3 June 2004, DWP had a contract in place with Post Office Ltd. for the display of key
departmental leaflets and posters in post office display panels. Post Office Ltd. terminated this contract with effect from 2 June 2004.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of (a) adults and (b) children were living in poverty in (i) England, (ii) each English region and (iii) the Tees Valley in each year since 1997. 
Information is presented in the tables for England as a whole and for the component English regions. This is consistent with the latest publication of the Households Below Average Income 1994-95 to 2004-05.
The following tables show the proportions of working-age adults living in households with income below the threshold 60 per cent. of contemporary median in England and the English regions since 1995-961997-98. These are shown Before and After Housing Costs. The threshold of 60 per cent. of median household income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.
|Proportions of working-age adults living in households with less than 60 per cent. of contemporary median household income, for England and the English regions 1996-971998-99 to 2002-032004-05, before housing costs|
|Proportion of working-age adults( 1) as three-year moving averages|
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