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Up to 25 per cent. of any personal pension can be taken as a lump sum, and if this option is taken, that lump sum will be treated as capital for the purposes of income related support in the normal way.
Those with savings pots below £15,000 may take advantage of the trivial commutation rules and take their full savings pot as a taxable lump sum. When someone opts to do that, the lump sum will be subject to the normal capital rules within the income- related benefits.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of how many and what percentage of eligible but not receiving claimants for (a) pension credit, (b) incapacity benefit, (c) jobseekers allowance and (d) council tax benefit are (i) living below the 60 per cent. relative poverty line and (ii) in each income decile. 
Estimates of the percentage of eligible non-recipients of pension credit, jobseekers allowance (income-based) and council tax benefit living below the 60 per cent. of contemporary median income, and the proportions in each quintile of the income distribution, can be found in the DWP report entitled Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2004/2005. Copies of the publication are available in the Library.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in which regions there is low take-up of (a) pension credit, (b) council tax benefit and (c) housing benefit; and what steps are being taken to increase take-up in such regions. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Estimates of take-up are not available below the level of Great Britain. The latest estimates of the take-up of the main income-related benefits income support, pension credit, housing benefit- council tax benefit and jobseekers allowance (income-based) in Great Britaincan be found in the DWP report entitled Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2004/2005. Copies of the publication are available in the Library.
The Pension Service is undertaking a wide range of steps to encourage eligible pensioners to claim pension creditfor example, writing to everyone who may have an entitlement to pension credit, encouraging them to apply.
The Pension Service local service is also continuing to work very closely with local partners (including local authorities as well as voluntary organisations such as
Help the Aged and Age Concern) to maximise take up by pensioners of all of their entitlements.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many client referrals were made from jobcentres to training providers who have won contracts for the provision of basic skills under Learning and Skills Council funding in each of the last six months. 
|Referrals to Learning and Skills Council basic skills provision|
Referrals did not start until late September. The September figures are included in October data as many providers were not set up to accept referrals until October or later.
Jobcentre Plus Business Information System.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost was to the public purse of funding for Catholic welfare agencies, excluding those providing housing or adoption services, in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: [holding answer 19 February 2007]: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was formed in June 2001 from the Department of Social Security (DSS), the Employment Service (ES) and parts of the former Department for Education and Employment (DfEE). Any financial information would only be available from that time.
The Departments agencies have links with many voluntary and charitable organisations and in a number of cases have entered into contracts with them. However, it is not possible to say if payments have been made to any particular faith-based agencies as no record is kept of a suppliers religious affiliation.
I announced on 19 February that I have asked the Departments commercial director to develop a centre of expertise within the procurement team working with the third sector, to specifically cover the needs of faith-based groups. In doing this, I want to make sure that access to contracts for faith groups can be on an even footing with all other private and voluntary sector organisations who wish to compete to deliver our services.