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25 July 2006 : Column 1568W—continued


25 July 2006 : Column 1569W

James Purnell [holding answer 18 April 2006]: The information is as follows:

(a) As the Financial Assistance Scheme has only recently been set up, estimates of the administrative costs over the next 10 years are subject to a degree of uncertainty. Our current estimate is that it will cost around £4.5 million a year up to 2009-10, when we would expect the costs to reduce significantly once the eligibility of all schemes and members has been assessed.

(b) It is difficult to estimate the administration costs of a scheme providing restoration of pensions to all those covered by the parliamentary ombudsman's report. As the scheme might have to mirror the benefit structures for each qualifying pension scheme, it could be significantly more complex than the Financial Assistance Scheme.

For full restoration, we estimate that the one off set up costs might be around £10 million and during the first five years that it might take to assess scheme eligibility and calculate member benefits, the administration costs could be at least £14 million a year. The total costs over the first year or so could therefore be around £20 million.

We cannot provide an estimate for partial restoration as it is unclear what that would involve.

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of how many people will qualify for support from the Financial Assistance Scheme at (a) the 80 per cent. rate, (b) the 65 per cent. rate and (c) the 50 per cent. rate. [77996]

James Purnell: We estimate that 25,000 people could qualify for support from the Financial Assistance Scheme at the 80 per cent. rate, 9,000 could qualify at the 65 per cent. rate and 6,000 at the 50 per cent. rate.

Health and Safety (Temperatures)

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what guidance the Health and Safety Executive has issued on the acceptable (a) minimum and (b) maximum temperatures (i) within offices and (ii) on public transport; [89045]

(2) what guidance the Health and Safety Executive has issued on the acceptable minimum and maximum temperatures. [89046]

Mrs. McGuire: I shall answer both of these questions together.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require employers to provide reasonable temperatures in all indoor workplaces, including offices, for their employees. These Regulations are accompanied by an Approved Code of Practice and guidance. HSE recommends a lower temperature of 16 degrees Celsius unless the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius.

There is no minimum or maximum temperature legally required in the workplace. Establishing either is impractical, as thermal comfort is dependent on a range of environmental and personal factors (e.g.
25 July 2006 : Column 1570W
ventilation, humidity, type of work activity being undertaken, clothes worn, and temperature).

Further guidance is available on HSE's website www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal. The website has been designed to provide comprehensive information and a step-by-step approach to help employers and employees manage excessive temperatures in the workplace. There is also HSE guidance for employers entitled “Thermal comfort in the workplace” (HSG 194).

The HSE has issued no specific health and safety guidance on public transport. However, HM Railway Inspectorate, which is now part of the Office of Rail Regulation, does have particular concern that rolling stock and infrastructure failures in deep tunnels can cause more specific health concerns. This is because of the increased temperatures and reduced ventilation that may be encountered by passengers on delayed and overcrowded carriages, especially during summer months. In such cases health and safety law requires employers to put arrangements in place to reduce the risks, but there are infrastructure and technical constraints to improving ventilation on some railways. Railway operators, such as LUL, alert passengers to the risks posed by hot conditions by suggesting that passengers carry a bottle of water and informing passengers of the quickest way of seeking help if taken ill on a train.

In addition, the Department of Health has produced an updated heat-wave plan on 26 May 2006 and new public health information leaflets are available from the Department of Health website: www.dh.gov.uk.

Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the costs to local authorities in (a) Scotland and (b) Great Britain for administering (i) housing benefit and (ii) council tax benefit were in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [86971]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available in the format requested. The Department does not collect management information relating to the cost to local authorities of administering housing benefit under the existing national scheme. The available information on the administration subsidy paid to local authorities is in the following table.


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25 July 2006 : Column 1572W
Housing Benefit (HB) Council Tax Benefit (CTB) Administration subsidy; Scotland and Great Britain.
£ million
HB CTB HB/CTB

1999-2000

Scotland

8,644,389

7,861,986

16,506,375

Great Britain

87,553,309

72,031,691

159,585,000

2000-01

Scotland

8,588,591

8,216,713

16,805,304

Great Britain

86,817,329

74,182,671

161,000,000

2001-02

Scotland

8,868,090

8,639,248

17,507,338

Great Britain

89,735,660

76,264,340

166,000,000

2002-03

Scotland

8,999,480

8,956,165

17,955,645

Great Britain

91,529,917

78,470,083

170,000,000

2003-04( 1)

Scotland

18,761,705

17,825,973

36,587,678

Great Britain

189,533,660

158,466,340

348,000,000

2004-05( 2)

Scotland

21,238,664

18,372,505

39,611,169

3,544,030

Great Britain

200,329,846

163,351,154

363,681,000

30,400,000

2005-06( 2)

Scotland

21,992,689

18,946,117

40,938,806

2,895,239

Great Britain

209,609,053

172,171,947

381,781,000

27,000,000

2006-07( 3)

Scotland

57,367,265

Great Britain

554,999,999

(1 )From 2003-04, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) distributed 100 per cent. of HB/CTB administration subsidy. Prior to 2003-04 distribution was shared 50 per cent by DWP, and 50 per cent. between the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Executive.
(2 )2004-05 and 2005-06 figures include separate identifiable amounts allocated in recognition of the costs to local authorities of administering HB/CTB claims which include pension credit and tax credits.
(3 )From 2006-07 HB/CTB administration subsidy which includes funding for programme protection activities is announced as a single annual figure.

Identity Fraud (Training)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what internal training courses on tackling identity fraud are provided to departmental staff who have access to members of the public's personal information. [86644]

Mr. Plaskitt: I refer the hon. Member to the Written Answer I gave the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) on 16 February 2006, Official Report, column 2438W.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals in (a) South East Cambridgeshire constituency, (b) Cambridgeshire and (c) the Eastern region claimed (i) short-term and (ii) long-term incapacity benefit in each of the last five years. [88850]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is in the table.


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25 July 2006 : Column 1574W
Incapacity benefit (IB) and severe disablement allowance (SDA) claimants each November 2001 to 2005, by geographical area and rate
All IB/SDA IBST(L) IBST(H) IBLT IBCO SDA

South East Cambridgeshire constituency

2005

2,480

140

100

1,100

740

410

2004

2,450

130

110

1,110

680

420

2003

2,390

110

90

1,130

610

450

2002

2,330

110

130

1,080

550

460

2001

2,290

110

120

1,040

500

510

Cambridge city council

2005

3,470

130

120

1,360

1,500

350

2004

3,360

130

120

1,320

1,430

370

2003

3,210

130

110

1,280

1,310

390

2002

3,160

120

150

1,230

1,250

410

2001

3,040

110

130

1,210

1,160

440

East Cambridgeshire district council

2005

1,830

90

80

850

530

280

2004

1,830

90

80

850

510

300

2003

1,780

80

70

870

460

300

2002

1,730

90

100

810

410

310

2001

1,690

80

90

800

370

350

Fenland district council

2005

3,810

160

170

1,940

1,110

430

2004

3,730

160

180

1,880

1,080

430

2003

3,600

140

140

1,870

990

450

2002

3,520

140

190

1,770

960

460

2001

3,390

140

150

1,730

860

510

Huntingdonshire district

2005

3,870

170

190

2,050

970

490

2004

3,910

230

220

1,980

980

500

2003

3,730

190

190

1,960

880

510

2002

3,730

170

240

1,900

880

540

2001

3,670

180

220

1,830

830

600

South Cambridgeshire district council

2005

2,730

140

130

1,230

770

470

2004

2,700

140

110

1,240

710

490

2003

2,620

120

110

1,240

630

510

2002

2,570

120

170

1,140

600

540

2001

2,440

110

120

1,110

510

590

Peterborough city council

2005

6,990

260

250

3,060

2,750

670

2004

7,020

270

280

3,110

2,660

700

2003

6,810

300

270

3,060

2,440

740

2002

6,800

280

360

2,960

2,420

770

2001

6,650

260

300

2,940

2,290

860

East of England GOR

2005

179,300

7,080

7,000

82,880

59,520

22,820

2004

181,060

7,550

7,910

83,180

58,690

23,730

2003

178,230

7,940

7,820

82,120

55,550

24,790

2002

174,590

7,850

9,330

78,860

52,680

25,860

2001

171,170

7,180

7,970

78,060

49,550

28,400

Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. IBST(L) = Incapacity Benefit short-term lower-rate
4. IBST(H) = Incapacity Benefit short-term higher-rate
5. IBLT = Incapacity Benefit long-term
6. IBCO = Incapacity Benefit credits-only
Source:
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

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