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22 Jan 2007 : Column 1504Wcontinued
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the terms were of the financial settlement paid to the former chief executive of Translink following his resignation from that body in December 2006; how much he received; and if he will make a statement. 
This information will be published in the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Companys
Annual Report for the year ending 31 March 2007. It is intended that this will be laid before Parliament prior to the summer recess.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland he estimates were eligible for winter fuel payments in 2006. 
Mr. Hanson: The number of people in Northern Ireland eligible for winter fuel payments in 2006 is estimated to be 320,370.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will appoint a representative from the assistive technology industry to the expert panel supporting the independent living review. 
Mrs. McGuire: There are no plans to appoint a representative from the assistive technology industry to the Independent Living Review Expert Panel. Members of the Expert Panel have been appointed in their capacity as individuals for the experience they bring to the group, rather than as representatives of a particular organisation.
However, members include a broad range of experts in the field of independent living, including disabled people, people from organisations of disabled people, user-led groups and service delivery organisations. This includes people with an interest in assistive technology and people who use assistive technology. We have also commissioned research that brings together evidence about why investing in adaptations, equipment and assistive technology makes sound economic sense.
Assistive technology is an important issue for the Independent Living Review. In considering how to enable people to have choice and control over the support needed to go about their daily lives, the review is looking at the role that assistive technology should play in this.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of (a) housing benefit, (b) disability living allowance and (c) council tax benefit in the Eastbourne constituency in each year since 1997; and how much was claimed in total of each benefit. 
Mrs. McGuire: Information regarding housing benefit and council tax benefit is not available below local authority level. The available information for disability living allowance is in the following tables.
|Claims for disability living allowance in Eastbourne parliamentary constituency|
|As at May each year:||Number in receipt|
1. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.
2. Case load figures are expressed in thousands and rounded to the nearest 10; some additional disclosure control has also been applied.
1. May 1997-May 2001: DWP, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample.
2. May 2002-May 2006: DWP Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
|Total expenditure on disability living allowance in Eastbourne parliamentary constituency|
|Financial years||Expenditure (£ million)|
Figures are consistent with pre-Budget report 2006 and are rounded to the nearest million
Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study, DWP accounts and forecasts for 2006-07
Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are claiming (a) jobseekers allowance, (b) incapacity benefit, (c) disability living allowance, (d) lone parent benefit and (e) income-related out-of-work benefit. 
Mrs. McGuire: There is no single income-related out-of-work benefit. Various income-related benefits can be claimed by people who are out of work. There is also not a specific lone parent benefit. In general lone parents claiming benefit claim income support.
The available information is in the following table:
|Number of benefit claimants at May 2006|
1. Incapacity benefit includes incapacity benefit contribution-only cases.
2. Lone parents in receipt of income support does not include lone parents who receive incapacity benefits or who are required to be available for work.
DWP Information Directorate 100 per cent WPLS
Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what strategies he and his Department have devised to ensure that there are (a) appropriate sources of support, (b) flexible care options and (c) flexible working arrangements for carers returning to work. 
Mrs. McGuire: Carers already have access to a wide range of support to help them back to work depending on whether they are, for example a lone parent or a disabled person, and the type of working age benefit they receive, such as income support or incapacity benefit.
In taking advantage of this support, carers may be able to attend a work-focused interview where they can get advice from a personal adviser on the programmes available to help them search for work or on training to update their skills. When making the transition into work, the personal adviser will also give advice on the financial assistance available to them.
We have also listened to the concerns of carers in drawing up proposals in the Health and Social Care White Paper when a commitment was made to improve respite care. In addition, the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004, which came into effect on 1 April 2005, promotes cooperation between authorities and requires councils to inform carers of their right to an assessment which takes into account their outside interests including work, or the desire to work.
Flexible working practices are good for business, employees and their families. In April 2003, we introduced a new right for parents of children up to the age of six and disabled children up to the age of 18 to request flexible working and put a duty on the employer to consider their request seriously. From April 2007, this right will be extended through the Work and Families Act to carers of adults. This will support carers who wish to remain in or return to work and will particularly help those aged 45 to 64, around one quarter of whom are carers.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the case for information packs being provided to new carers on their rights and entitlements; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department already provides a wide range of information about benefits for carers which can be obtained through Jobcentre Plus offices, Pensions centres, advice agencies, libraries, doctors surgeries, helplines and from the Directgov website. Both the claim pack and the award notifications for carers allowance contain general advice for carers. In addition many local authorities produce material to advise carers about the financial and practical support that may be available to them, which can include details of local services available to carers. Finally, the Department of Health has announced plans to establish a carers helpline, as part of its new deal for carers. Accordingly, we believe that carers should be free to choose how they obtain the information about financial support and services which they need.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will take steps to increase the level of carers allowance in line with that of (a) jobseekers allowance, (b) income support and (c) incapacity benefit; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 15 January 2007]: The level of carers allowance is increased in April each year in line with the annual movement in prices as measured by the retail price index, and we have no plans to change these arrangements.
Unlike incapacity benefit and jobseekers allowance (contributions-based), entitlement to carers allowance does not depend upon the payment of national insurance contributions; hence, the level of carers allowance has always been less than other income maintenance (contributions-based) benefits such as incapacity benefit and jobseekers allowance.
Income support and income-based jobseekers allowance are available to carers in lower-income households. They are not payable at standard rates, but are assessed on the basis of an individuals personal circumstances. Carers entitled to carers allowance have the carer premium of £26.35 a week included in the assessment of these benefits, and of housing benefit and council tax benefit. If they are aged 60 or over, they have the equivalent additional amount for carers included in their pension credit assessment.
Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall, North dated 28 November 2006, on a constituent, reference PCU161195; if he will ensure that a reply is sent; and what the reasons are for the delay in replaying substantively. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 18 January 2007]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to my hon. Friend with the information requested.
Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 22 January 2007:
In your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when he expects the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North dated 28th November 2006 on a constituent reference PCU161195; if he will ensure a reply is sent; and what the reasons are for the delay in replying substantively. 
As details about individual cases are confidential I have written to you separately about this case.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners live in the Bristol local authority area; how many are in receipt of council tax benefit; and what percentage this represents of the total number of pensioners living in the constituency. 
James Purnell: The available information is in the following table.
|Council tax benefit (CTB) recipients by age: Bristol local authority, May 2006|
Percentage of population aged 60 and over(1) in receipt of CTB
|(1) Aged 60 and over is defined as benefit units where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 and over. Therefore figures will contain some claimants aged under 60 where there is a partner aged over 60 years.|
1. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.
2. CTB caseloads are rounded to the nearest 10 and percentage to one decimal place.
3. Population figure is rounded to the nearest hundred.
4. Council tax benefit figures exclude any second adult rebate cases.
5. CTB figures are not available at parliamentary constituency level.
1. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in May 2006.
2. Mid-2005 ONS population estimates.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to encourage disclosure of disability by public sector employees; and what the cost of such steps was in 2005-06. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions encourages its staff to declare their disability status. In its disability equality scheme published on 1 December 2006 the Department committed to improve further the information that it collects on disability status.
The Department is in the process of rolling out a new resource management system that will allow it to capture such information more effectively. To coincide with the rollout, a targeted programme of communications will encourage further staff to disclose their disability status. This will complement the existing information on disability disclosure that is already available to all staff on the Departments internal website. Costs have been, and will continue to be, absorbed within normal departmental communications spending.
Externally, the Department aims to develop and share good practice on disability issues, including disability monitoring, as part of its membership of organisations such as the Employers Forum on Disability.
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