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Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which statistics have been put forward by his Department for consideration to become new national statistics in each of the last five years; and how many statistics sets his Department has produced in total in each of the last five years. 
A list of changes to the scope of National Statistics (additions and withdrawals) in each of the last five years can be found in the relevant National Statistics annual report available on the National Statistics website at:
In addition to National Statistics, the Department for Work and Pensions publishes a wide range of other
numerical information in a variety of forms including other data produced from the management and administration of the Department and in research reports. There is no consistent definition of the term statistics sets and no centrally held information on the total published in each year on this basis.
Mrs. McGuire: The assessment of eligibility for disability living allowance and attendance allowance is more complex than for other benefits as it involves a detailed judgment of each individual's personal care and mobility needs.
The Department has, therefore, commissioned a feasibility study to establish whether a methodology can be developed that will provide an accurate and robust estimate of the levels of take up of these benefits.
The study is being conducted by the Policy Studies Institute and a report of the results of the first stage is planned to be available in spring 2007. Decisions on whether it is appropriate to move to the second stage of this three stage study will be based on the findings in that report.
Mrs. McGuire: Since 1997 the Government have significantly extended and improved civil rights for disabled people in areas such as employment, education, access to goods and services and transport, most recently through the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 which met our commitment to put in place a comprehensive and enforceable set of rights for disabled people. Disabled people in Clwyd, South will have benefited from these significant improvements in disability rights.
The number of disabled people in Clwyd, South claiming disability living allowance or attendance allowance, and thus benefiting from the enhancement of independence and social integration that these benefits provide, has increased by almost 24 per cent. from around 6,200 in May 1997 to about 7,700 in May 2006. These include some 20 disabled three and four-year-old children who are unable, or virtually, unable to walk and are currently receiving the disability living allowance higher-rate mobility component following the Governments decision in 2001 to reduce the lower age limit for entitlement from five to three years of age(1).
Through Jobcentre Plus, we are promoting work as the best form of welfare for people of working age. Since 1997 the number of long-term unemployed in
Clwyd, South has fallen by 64 per cent. and the number of young people that are long-term unemployed by 47 per cent.
Our new deals have helped lone parents, the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed, disabled people, the over-50s and partners of unemployed people to move from benefit into work. Nationally over 15 million people have been helped into work by the new deals, with over 3,700 in Clwyd, South.
(1) The source of the 1997 aforementioned figures cited is the DWP Information Directorate: 5 per cent. sample. The source of the 2006 figures is the DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions (a) ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman on her report into Equitable Life; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Gisela Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the reduction in costs to public funds of taxing Financial Assistance Scheme payments and not having to pay means-tested benefits to some of the recipients. 
James Purnell [holding answer 12 December 2006]: We have not made an estimate of the reduction in costs to public funds of taxing Financial Assistance Scheme payments and not having to pay means-tested benefits to some of the recipients. It is difficult to estimate what the cost of the proposals would be after taking into account tax and benefit offsets.
In order to consider what reduction there would be in the income-related benefits, we would need data on the income distribution of those benefiting from FAS, the tax brackets they are in and their benefit entitlements. We do not hold such data. We cannot use the data held on income distribution over the whole of the pensioner population, as we cannot know if this relatively small group of people are typical of the entire population. The same applies to estimating increases in tax revenue.
Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what criteria the Benefits Agency applied when designating Harris Tweed weavers as self-employed, as opposed to unemployed, during periods when they have no work; and from which date this policy has been applied; 
(2) what agreements were reached in 1988 by the Government regarding the entitlement to benefits of Harris Tweed weavers; what assessment he has made of the work patterns of weavers in the context of their entitlement to benefits; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 18 December 2006]: There was, and is, no specific benefit legislation to cover weavers. When deciding entitlement to benefits, weavers are treated in the same way as any other worker whose employment is seasonal.
In any case of seasonal employment, the Department looks at the pattern of employment over a recognisable cycle, usually one year. If the average number of hours worked each week of this cycle is 16 or more the person is treated as in remunerative work for the whole of the period, and not entitled to benefit.
If the average number of hours worked over the cycle is less than 16 per week the person may be entitled to benefit, depending on their income. Seasonal self-employed workers have their income, less any allowable deductions, averaged over the period of the work cycle to determine a weekly amount of earnings. An amount, usually £5 for a single person, is disregarded each week.
The Harris Tweed weavers are designated as self-employed as, while they are provided with yarn to weave the tweed, they work on a self-employed rather than an employed basis. They cannot therefore be counted as unemployed during periods when they have no work.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of people making a fresh claim for incapacity benefit in each year since 2000 had been in receipt of incapacity benefit during the previous 12 months. 
|Percentage of incapacity benefit on-flows who had been part of the incapacity benefits caseload during the previous 12 monthsMay 2000 to May 2006|
|Year ending May||All (Percentage)|
1. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Figures include incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and credits only cases.
3. Figures for the latest quarter do not include any late notifications and are subject to major changes in future quarters. For illustration purposes, total commencements for May 2004 increased by 18 per cent. in the year following their initial release.
4. Since April 2001 SDA has been closed to new claimants. The small number of SDA claimants shown as on flows are those who have had their claim deleted and rebuilt onto the system.
DWP Information Directorate five per cent. sample and five per cent. terminations dataset
|The number of incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance claimants in each ward within Darlington local authority since 2000|
|Ward name (by 2003 ward boundaries)||May 2000||May 2001||May 2002||May 2003||May 2004||May 2005||May 2006|
1 .All figures supplied have been rounded to protect the confidentiality of claimants.
2. All data represent a snapshot in time of claimants on the computer system, and will therefore exclude a very small number of clerically held cases.
3. Figures include incapacity benefit credits only cases.
DWP Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. Data.
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