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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the provisions of Article 5 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union regarding employment and the provision that the Union shall take measures to ensure co-ordination of the employment policies of the member states, in particular by defining guidelines for these policies; whether there will be shared competence with the European Union as a result of these provisions; and if he will make a statement on the legal consequences of this provision and the other provisions of the Treaty for employment in the UK. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 15 October 2007]: The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union does not change the existing provisions relating to the co-ordination of employment policies, currently set out in the Employment Title (VIII) of the Treaty establishing the EU under Articles 125-130. The employment provision in Article five relates to the Lisbon Strategy for Jobs and Growth, whereby all member states agree non-binding guidelines on employment and report annually on their main employment policies that relate to the Guidelines. This is principally to generate exchange of good practice on reforms that will help increase employment across the EU. This process is also supported by the European Social Fund.
The UK strategy of employment opportunity for all is seen as a good model and delivers the common EU outcomes necessary for more and better jobs. The UK is one of only four member states to have attained and surpassed the Lisbon employment rate target of 70 per cent.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of people ceasing to claim jobseekers allowance had (a) moved immediately onto other benefits and (b) returned to (i) jobseekers allowance and (ii) other benefits (A) up to six months, (B) between six and 12 months and (C) more than 12 months after leaving benefit in each year since 1992. 
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many foreign nationals in the Forest of Dean district were issued with national insurance numbers in (a) the last year for which figures are available and (b) each of the preceding four years. 
|Registrations for national insurance numbers by foreign nationals in the Forest of Dean district council area|
|Year of registration||Number of registrations|
1. Numbers are rounded to the nearest ten.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. Local authorities are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant postcode directory.
4. Local authority counts are based on the most recently recorded address of the NINO recipient.
100 per cent. sample at 25 June 2005, 17 June 2006 and 14 May 2007 from the National Insurance Recording System (NIRS).
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many foreign nationals in the Milton Keynes unitary authority were issued with
national insurance numbers in (a) the last year for which figures are available and (b) each of the preceding four years. 
|National insurance number registrations in respect of non-UK Nationals in Milton Keynes local authority|
|Year of registration||Registrations|
1. Numbers are rounded to the nearest ten.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. Numbers are based on 100 per cent. data from the national insurance recording system (NIRS).
4. Local authority is assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant postcode directory.
5. Local authority counts are based on the most recently recorded address of the NINO recipient.
100 per cent sample at 25 June 2005, 17 June 2006 and 14 May 2007 from the national insurance recording system
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners who are entitled to pension credit but do not claim it; what steps he is taking to reduce that number; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Latest estimates of the number of pensioners eligible for but not claiming pension credit can be found in Pension Credit Estimates of Take-Up in 2005/2006. A copy of the report is available in the Library.
The Pension Service is undertaking a wide range of steps to encourage eligible pensioners to claim pension credit. In 2006-07 around 2.8 million direct mailings were issued to customers who may have an entitlement to pension credit.
The Pension Service Local Service offers face-to-face visits to potentially eligible and vulnerable pensioners during which full benefit entitlement checks are carried out. Nearly one million home visits were conducted during 2006-07.
The Pension Service Local Service is continuing to work closely with local partners (including local authorities and voluntary organisations such as Help the Aged and Age Concern) on pension credit take-up activity. There are now 184 operational Joint Working Partnerships enabling the Pension Service Local Service, local authorities and the voluntary sector to provide a single point of access to social care and benefit entitlement.
In addition, we have modernised our service and encourage take up by enabling new customers who call to claim their state pension, to also apply for pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit in a single telephone call if appropriate.
1. The figures provided are early estimates. The preferred data source for figures supplied by DWP is the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS). However, the figures provided are the latest available figures which are taken from the GMS scan at 1 June 2007. These are adjusted using the historical relationship between WPLS and GMS data to give an estimate of the final WPLS figure.
2. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest 10.
3. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant postcode directory and are therefore based on the 2005 parliamentary boundaries.
4. Households are those people who claim Pension Credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.
DWP 100 per cent. data from the Generalised Matching Service (GMS) Pension Credit scan taken as at 1 June 2007.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of (a) the projected cost of the Financial Assistance Scheme in each of the next 30 years and (b) the additional funding required to meet his commitment on match-funding following the publication of the interim Young report. 
|Cash cost (£ million)|
Costs are rounded to the nearest £1 million and are expressed in 2006-07 prices
(b) The Young review will identify what additional value can be attained from the assets in FAS pension funds. The Government will set out the details of its approach to match funding once the Young review has been published.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the maximum percentage payment under the Financial Assistance scheme is of the pension lost; and whether the payment is dependent upon the level of contributions made. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Payments from the Financial Assistance scheme (FAS) reflect 80 per cent. of the core pension an individual could have expected to receive from their pension scheme. Payments are currently subject to a cap of £12,000 a year and as previously announced we are raising the cap to £26,000 a year.
The Young Review of Pension scheme assets is expected to report back in November, and we have already committed to match the additional value it identifies with the goal of moving towards 90 per cent. of expected core pension for all recipients (subject to the cap).
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will commission research into rates of benefit take-up, broken down by (a) gender and (b) type of benefit; and if he will make a statement. 
Estimates of the take-up of the main income-related benefitspension credit, housing benefit, council tax benefit and income-based jobseekers allowanceare available in the DWP publication series entitled Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up. Copies of the latest
publication, which describes patterns in take-up between 1997-98 and 2005-06, plus past reports, can be found in the Library.
Where sample sizes and data sources allow, take-up statistics are broken down to enable comparisons by gender. In practice, we can provide analysis by gender only for income support, pension credit and income-based jobseekers allowance. For council tax benefit and housing benefit, a gender breakdown of take-up rates is not possible.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what changes have been made since May 1997 to the mortgage value threshold at which income support will stop paying mortgage interest, for mortgages taken out after October 1995. 
Generally help with interest payments is limited to the interest on the first £100,000 of outstanding loan capital for customers in receipt of income support, income-based jobseekers allowance and state pension credit.
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