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13 July 2006 : Column 2012W—continued

FIFA World Cup

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which matches (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department attended at the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany in their ministerial capacity; at what cost to public funds; and with what contributions from third party organisations. [83615]

Mrs. McGuire: Neither the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions nor any of his Ministers attended any matches at the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany in their ministerial capacity.

Financial Assistance Scheme

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether a pension scheme needs to be closed before payments can be made under the financial assistance scheme. [83250]

James Purnell: No, we can make discretionary initial financial assistance scheme payments before a qualifying pension scheme’s wind up is completed. The pension scheme’s trustees need to apply for initial payments in writing. In most cases information on the full scale of an individual’s loss is not available until a scheme is close to completing wind up. Until such information is available we are unable to assess a qualifying member’s exact level of assistance—their ‘annual’ payment.

However, and particularly as completing wind up can take a number of years, initial payments enable us to start paying some money at a lower rate, to qualifying members or their survivors who become entitled to assistance before their scheme has completed winding up.

Incapacity Benefit

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young people claimed incapacity benefit in West Lancashire in each year since 1997. [83544]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is in the following table:

Incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance claimants, in the Lancashire West parliamentary constituency, by age: each November 1997 to 2005
Under 20 years of age 20-24 years of age




























1. The figures for 1997 and 1998 have been produced using the five per cent. data and have been rated up proportionally using the Great Britain WPLS 100 per cent. totals.
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
3. “Claimant” figures include all incapacity benefit (IB) and severe disablement allowance, including IB credits only cases.
DWP Information Directorate, five per cent. samples from 1997 to 1998 and Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data thereafter.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on his target to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefit by one million by 2016. [84933]

Mrs. McGuire: We have received a number of representations on this subject, including parliamentary questions from hon. Members and responses received during the Green Paper consultation period. The Green Paper sets out our aspiration to see one million fewer people on incapacity benefits, over the course of a decade, through the combined efforts of the Government, employers, local authorities and health professionals.

We have said that we will set out, by the end of the year, the basis by which the aspiration of one million fewer people on incapacity benefits will be measured and the progress we will need to make over the next Spending Review period.


Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have died from mesothelioma in each health authority in England in each year since 1997. [82654]

13 July 2006 : Column 2013W

Mrs. McGuire: Data on mesothelioma deaths are not readily available by health authority. I have placed in the Library a table with data that represent mesothelioma deaths for local and unitary authorities in England for the years 1997 to 2003, the latest year for which data are currently available.

Mr. Bill McGraf

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether Mr. Bill McGraf, now deceased, a constituent of the right hon. Member for Birkenhead who lived in Well Lane Flats, Birkenhead, was in receipt of carer’s allowance. [84752]

Mrs. McGuire: The administration of carer’s allowance is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Disability and Carers Service, Mr. Terry Moran. As details about individual cases are confidential, he will contact you privately about the matter.

Letter from Vivien Hopkins, dated 13 July 2006:

Official Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 4 July 2006, Official Report, column 964W, on ministerial visits (overnight stays), how he ensures the (a) cost effectiveness and (b) appropriateness of overnight stays by (i) Ministers, (ii) civil servants and (iii) special advisers. [84454]

Mrs. McGuire: Under the terms of the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, when travelling on official business Ministers are expected to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements.

The same principles apply to civil servants and special advisers. Civil servants will adhere to the civil service code, and other departmental guides, ensuring value for money.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list those occasions when the recommendations of a report from the parliamentary ombudsman were (a) rejected and (b) partly rejected by his Department since 1997. [76266]

James Purnell: On only one occasion since 1997 has the Department, its Executive agencies or non-departmental public bodies rejected the recommendations of a report from the parliamentary ombudsman. This occurred in the case of her report “Trusting in the pensions promise” published in March this year.

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Pathways Areas (Blind/Partially Sighted People)

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many blind and partially sighted people have been assisted into work in Pathways areas in each year since their introduction. [68313]

Mrs. McGuire: Many customers categorised as ‘blind or having low vision’ would not be expected to participate in the mandatory Pathways process under current exemption rules. However, 11 customers categorised as being ‘blind or having low vision’ have been helped into work by Pathways to Work.

The data on medical condition for Pathways to Work participants is incomplete. The reason for this is that it is drawn from incapacity benefit data that appears in the National Benefits Database. This impacts on the completeness of Pathways medical condition data in two ways;

Pension Credit

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many residents in each electoral ward in Yeovil constituency receive pension credit. [83387]

James Purnell: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 10 July 2006, Official Report, column 1600W.

Pension Forecasts

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the annual cost of issuing pension forecasts. [80401]

James Purnell: The cost of administering and issuing pension forecasts during the year to March 2005 has been estimated at £15.3 million. This figure is an approximate assessment only.

The Department is currently refining its unit cost information in order to provide more robust and detailed financial analysis of the processing activities for which it is responsible. We are introducing a new resource management system this year and it will deliver more robust estimates in the future.

13 July 2006 : Column 2015W

Pensioners (Carers Allowance)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will grant pensioners who act as carers at home an allowance in addition to the state pension; and if he will make a statement. [84434]

James Purnell: Depending on their circumstances, all pensioners may be entitled to extra help from social security benefits on top of their state pension.

We have already changed the rules so that carers aged 65 or over can claim carer’s allowance. State pension and carer’s allowance are both income maintenance benefits. They are not payable at the same time because this would involve duplicate provision from public funds. However, where state pension is payable at less than the rate of carer’s allowance, an amount of carer’s allowance can be paid to make up the difference.

Lower income pensioners may receive pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit in addition to their state pension. As long as someone has an underlying entitlement to carer’s allowance, whether it is overlapped by state pension in full or in part, they may receive up to £26.35 a week extra from these benefits. More than 181,000 carers who receive pension credit are gaining from this provision.

There are no current plans to introduce any additional allowance in respect of pensioners who are also carers, or to change the policy on overlapping benefits in respect of carer’s allowance and state pension.

Roxby Pension Scheme

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to ensure that members of the Roxby pension scheme receive their full pension entitlement. [72612]

James Purnell: The Roxby pension scheme has been determined as a qualifying scheme for the financial assistance scheme. The trustees have applied for initial payments and we are currently awaiting member data to enable us to start making initial payments to eligible members.

While the financial assistance scheme does not provide eligible members with their full pension entitlement, it can provide significant assistance to members of qualifying pension schemes. On 25 May 2006 as part of the White Paper, “Security in Retirement: towards a new pension system”, the Government announced that it will extend eligibility for the financial assistance scheme to members of qualifying pension schemes who were within 15 years of their scheme’s normal retirement age on 14 May 2004.

Those within seven years of their scheme’s normal retirement age on 14 May 2004 will benefit from the financial assistance scheme topping up their pensions to around 80 per cent. of their expected core pension. Those between seven and 15 years from their scheme’s normal retirement age, who can more reasonably be expected to supplement their retirement income, will be considered for a top-up to around 65 per cent. of their expected pension if they are between seven and 11 years from scheme pension age, and 50 per cent. between 12 and 15 years.

13 July 2006 : Column 2016W

State Pension

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the annual cost to 2012 of restoring the earnings link for the basic state pension. [83072]

James Purnell: Our objective is to re-link the uprating of the basic state pension to earnings from 2012 or by the end of the next Parliament at the latest. A statement on the precise date will be made at the beginning of the next Parliament. The information requested is in the following table.

Gross cost Net cost



















1. All figures are: based on earnings uprating from April 2007; in 2006-07 prices; in £ billion; rounded to the nearest £100 million; and for all UK and overseas pensioners; this is consistent with the presentation in the White Paper.
2. The net figures include the savings made from reduced income-related benefit expenditure and assume the guarantee element of pension credit is uprated in line with earnings; it does not include any increase in income tax revenues. The income-related benefit offsets are consistent with those in the White Paper.
3. These figures do not include any of the other policy changes included in the White Paper such as improved coverage of the basic state pension.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the cost of raising to a full pension the pension entitlement of all women with over 30 years’ but fewer than 39 years’ contributions. [85243]

James Purnell: The information requested can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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