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The Rent Service has committed to providing indicative median local housing allowance rates to all local authorities in October 2007, providing provisional median local housing allowance rates in
January 2008 and providing the live median local housing allowance rates to all local authorities in March 2008.
The national local housing allowance rate in the private rented sector will be set at the median of market rents, while the pathfinder model of the local housing allowance set the rate at the midpoint of market rents.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the introduction of the local housing allowance on differences between housing benefit received and rent paid by claimants subject to a single room rent/shared room restriction. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Any shortfall between the housing benefit received and contractual rent at the time of national roll-out of the local housing allowance will depend on the trends in local rent levels, the accommodation choices made by tenants and the tenant's income. It is currently hard to predict each of these aspects up to the point of national roll-out of the local housing allowance. We will be monitoring shortfalls between the shared room rate and contractual rent as part of the two year review of the national roll-out of the local housing allowance.
The shared room rate under the national roll-out of the local housing allowance covers a broader definition of what can be counted as shared accommodation than the single room rent restriction. Additionally, as the shared room rate will be set at the median of local market rents, this ensures that 50 per cent. of the shared properties on the Rent Officers' database will be affordable at the shared room rate. Since the rates are published, tenants will also be aware of their maximum housing benefit entitlement in advance and be able to make an informed decision about what accommodation they can afford.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether rent officers are required to take into account actual rent levels when setting (a) broad market rental area boundaries and (b) local housing allowance rates. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The definition for broad rental market area (BRMA) is laid down in statute and it does not require rent officers to have any regard to rent levels. It relates primarily to access to facilities and services for health, education, recreation, personal banking and shopping. The BRMA must contain a mix of property types held on a variety of tenancies.
When setting local housing allowance (LHA) rates rent officers must have regard to rents in the broad market rental area. Under the current pathfinder scheme the LHA is calculated by gathering evidence of rents for properties of the appropriate size and excluding those that are exceptionally high or low to determine a high rent and low rent. The high and low rents are then added together and divided by two to produce the LHA.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average amount of benefits taken up by an immigrant from (a) a European Union country and (b) another country in the last 12 months. 
Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the potential effect of loss of benefits by people with a learning disability wishing to take up work on their ability to do so; and if he will introduce measures to ensure flexibility in the benefits system for such people. 
Mr. Plaskitt: We are aware that people with severe or specific learning difficulties are one of the groups least likely to move off state benefits and into sustained work. We recognise that part-time work can be important to well-being, to developing self worth, and a stepping-stone to sustained work and a life independent of the benefit system. That is why we already have the permitted work rules in the current incapacity benefits system which enable a person on incapacity benefit to work up to 16 hours and earn up to £86 per week, for an initial period of up to 52 weeks, to allow engagement with the labour market. For people on income support the earnings disregard is currently £20 per week.
We are bringing these rules forward into the new employment and support allowance (ESA) However, within the new ESA we will be aligning the existing permitted work earnings limits. This means that anyone claiming ESA will be able to earn up to £86 per week for up to 52 weeks without it affecting their benefit entitlement.
Linking rules are designed to give customers security when they leave benefit for work or training. If the job or training does not work out, they will receive the same cash level if they return to benefit within a specified period. We know that the security that linking rules provide is important to many people and we will continue to have linking rules in ESA.
We believe these rules are a valuable element of the current benefit system and, combined with the rules we have on unlimited voluntary work while on incapacity benefits, provide customers with a wide range of opportunities to try out work themselves. We will continue to look for other ways of helping people take up opportunities to work and increase their options without fear of their benefits being immediately affected.
Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners in Warrington who received energy efficiency grants in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
During the 2006-07 financial year, the Government's warm front scheme provided grants to 645 pensioner households in Warrington. Of these, 327 households were in the Warrington, North area and 318 in Warrington, South.
|Income support customers paid back to work bonuses: Great Britain|
|Total claims paid||Total amount paid (£)|
|(1) 2003 figures exclude May 2003. These figures are not available due to system errors. (2 )There are no new claims to the back to work bonus scheme after October 2004 and only transitional claims up to January 2005. Note s : 1. Figures are taken from ISCS 100 per cent. monthly scans and are given as annual figures (i.e. the sum from January to December each year) where applicable. 2. Caseloads have been rounded to the nearest 10. 3. Total amounts are rounded to the nearest pound. 4. Figures are not available prior to January 1999. Source: ISCS 100 per cent. monthly scans.|
Gillian Merron: Departments have delegated authority to determine pay arrangements for their own staff below the senior civil service that meet their own business needs. Under the delegated arrangements, information on salaries of individual members of staff and the hours that they work, which is necessary to calculate hourly rates of pay, is not held centrally and could be collected only at disproportionate cost.
David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many and what percentage of staff in the Prime Minister's Office are making additional voluntary contributions to their pensions; and what steps the Prime Minister's Office has taken in the last 12 months to encourage more people to make such contributions. 
144 members of staff in Cabinet Office (9.3 per cent. of the total number of staff employed by the Department) currently make additional voluntary pension contributions through deductions from their pay.
Pension scheme members receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension built up to date, and also a projection of pension on retirement if the member continues in service to scheme pension age. The benefit statement provides details of the civil service pensions website where staff can obtain further information, including on options for making additional voluntary contributions to boost their pension.
David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many staff in his Office have taken (a) five or more, (b) four, (c) three and (d) two periods of sick leave of less than five days in the last 12 months. 
Gillian Merron: The Families at Risk Review found that in 2005, around 2 per cent. of families in Britain experienced five or more disadvantages. For example, those with parents lacking any qualifications. This was based on analysis using the Families and Children Study (FACS), which is representative of families with children in Britain. At the local council level, the number of families with five or more disadvantages in the FACS is very small, and it is therefore not possible to accurately estimate how many families are at risk in Blackpool, South or indeed in any other specific areas.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics which board positions were filled by Government Ministers on (a) the Olympic Board, (b) the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, (c) the Olympic Delivery Authority and (d) MISC 25 as at 26 June; and which Ministers now fill such positions. 
Tessa Jowell: As at 26 June, I co-chaired the Olympic Board and sat on the MISC 25 Committee as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. My right hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, Central also attended the Olympic Board and MISC 25 Committee as part of his duties as Minister for Sport.
As at 26 June my right hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, Central, sat on the Board of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). I will nominate a new Government representative to sit on the LOCOG Board in due course.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics which civil servants are responsible for the Government's London 2012 Olympics budget; how many civil servants work on the project; in which (a) Departments and (b) directorates they are based; and what mechanisms exist to co-ordinate the work with officials in the Cabinet Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
Tessa Jowell: The civil servants responsible for the London 2012 budget remain in the Government Olympic Executive (GOE), which is based in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport but reports to me. The Accounting Officer remains the Permanent Secretary at DCMS. Officials in other parts of DCMS and in other Departments across Whitehall continue to work on specific policy aspects of the Olympic programmeall of which are co-ordinated by GOE. There are currently 51.5 full-time equivalent staff working in GOE and three full-time press officers working on the Olympics. I also have a small private office in the Cabinet Office.
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