Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department will (a) carry out an age audit of its staff to establish an age profile of its workforce, (b) negotiate an age management policy with trade unions and employees to eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers, (c) identify and support training needs and offer older staff flexible working to downshift towards retirement and (d) extend to over-fifties the right to request to work flexibly and the right to training with paid time off; and if he will make a statement. 
|Age Range||Permanent and Fixed Term Appointments (Headcount)||Percentage|
The Department does not discriminate on grounds of age and recently implemented a policy of having no mandatory retirement age for all DWP employees below the Senior Civil Service. DWP employees in the Senior Civil Service are managed centrally by the Cabinet Office and have a mandatory retirement age of 65.
The Department identifies and supports training which is needed to enable delivery of DWP business, irrespective of an employee's age. All employees, irrespective of age, are able to request flexible working practices to help meet their particular commitments, commensurate with continuing to support delivery of the Department's business needs. Employees who have reached minimum pension age of 60 are similarly able to request to draw their accrued pension benefits and keep working, either on reduced hours or in a lower grade. Any training necessary to support delivery of the Department's business is conducted as part of paid working time.
Meg Hillier: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2006, Official Report, column 590W, on benefits, what assessment he has made of the impact of widening the housing benefit extended payment scheme from April 2004 to include those in receipt of (a) incapacity benefit and (b) severe disablement allowance; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: From April 2004 we widened the scope of extended payments by introducing a parallel scheme for people moving into work from either incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance. In 2005, it is estimated that 5,000 customers or their partners who received either incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance received an extended payment when they moved off benefit and into employment.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the implications for claimants of being changed from severe disablement allowance to incapacity benefit; and whether this change will result in the loss of eligibility for (a) housing benefit and (b) passported benefits associated with housing benefit. 
Mr. Plaskitt: New claims to severe disablement allowance were stopped on 6 April 2001. From that date new customers need to apply for incapacity benefit or income support on grounds of incapacity. At that time youth rules were introduced to incapacity benefit, whereby those incapable of work before the age of 20 (25 years old in certain circumstances) are eligible for the benefit without needing to meet the national insurance contribution condition.
Existing severe disablement allowance customers, apart from those aged under 20 years old on 5 April 2001, have not been transferred onto incapacity benefit. Instead payment of severe disablement allowance continues as long as the benefit conditions continue to be satisfied.
Entitlement to severe disablement allowance does not passport its recipients to other benefits, such as housing benefit, in the way that income support and income related jobseeker's allowance do. Many customers on severe disablement allowance may also qualify for income support and so be passported to other benefits in that way. People on severe disablement allowance with a low income, but not also receiving income support would need to be considered for housing benefit on low-income grounds.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what are the earnings disregards for those benefits for which he is responsible expressed in (a) cash terms, (b) real terms with 1997 as the base year and (c) terms of hours of work at present minimum wage rates. 
Benefits rates are set for the financial year, not the calendar year, and with 1997-98 as the base year, the real terms amounts of the earnings disregards are set out in the table together with the current rates
|Earnings disregards in income related benefits cash and real terms|
|Cash terms||Real terms( 1)|
|(1) Deflated by RPI, base year: 1997-98|
1. Forecast RPI for 2006-07, from Budget 2006
2. The first three disregards apply to all income related benefits.
3. There are different lone parent rates for housing benefit (HB) and council tax benefit (CTB).
4. The last four disregards apply to HB and CTB only.
There are three levels of the national minimum wage. The rates from 1 October 2006 are: £5.35 per hour for workers aged 22 years and older; a development rate of £4.45 per hour for workers aged 18-21 years inclusive; and £3.30 per hour which applies to all workers under the age of 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age.
At the £5.35 per hour rate, the number of hours required to reach the earnings disregard level for each type of disregard ranges from one hour for a claimant on the standard earnings disregard, to five hours for a lone parent on housing benefit or council tax benefit. However, at 16 hours, such a lone parent would also qualify for an additional earnings disregard amount of £14.90.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals who have arrived
in the UK from the new European Union member states since 1 May 2004 are claiming welfare benefits. 
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many arrivals from the new EU accession countries (a) have claimed and (b) are claiming means tested (i) housing benefit and (ii) council tax benefit at the latest available date; 
Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available in the precise format requested. However, information on the number of applications for income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance and pension credit is available in the "Accession Monitoring Report; May 2004 - June 2006", a joint report by the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and Department for Communities and Local Government; copies of which have been placed in the Library.
Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many nationals from the EU accession states have applied for (a) income support, (b) income-based jobseekers allowance and (c) state pension credit since May 2004; and how many applications have (i) been disallowed and (ii) been allowed to proceed for further processing in each case. 
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in City of York constituency were in receipt of each benefit administered by his Department (a) at the latest date for which figures are available and (b) on the same date in each of the previous 10 years; and how much was spent in the constituency on each benefit in each year. 
|Income support (IS), jobseeker's allowance (JSA), incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance (IB/SDA), widow's benefit (WB), pension credit (PC), minimum income guarantee (MIG), disability living allowance (DLA), and attendance allowance (AA) claimants in the City of York parliamentary constituency, as at February each year|
1. IS figures are rounded to the nearest 10 and exclude MIG cases.
2. JSA figures are un-rounded and are not seasonally adjusted.
3. IB/SDA figures are rounded to the nearest 10 and include IB contributions only cases.
4. WB figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
5. PC figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
6. MIG figures are rounded to the nearest hundred from 1997 to 1999 and to the nearest 10 from 2000 onwards.
7. DLA figures are rounded to the nearest hundred from 1997 to 2002 and to the nearest 10 from 2003 onwards.
8. AA figures are rounded to the nearest 100.
9. WB figures are not available broken down by parliamentary constituency prior to September 1999.
10. WB was replaced by bereavement benefit on 9 April 2001.
11. PC replaced MIG on 6 October 2003.
12. DLA and AA figures exclude suspended cases.
100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS); DWP information Directorate 5 per cent. samples; count of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus computer system (including clerically held cases).
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