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6 Dec 2007 : Column 1511W—continued

NAO-audited assumption of the numbers on jobseeker’s allowance











1. These figures relate to Great Britain, and are consistent with the assumption for the UK.
2. The assumption on the future claimant count is the average of a number of forecasts, all of which are made by non-Governmental organisations. When these forecasters predict that the claimant count will increase (as here), it follows that the assumption will reflect that increase. Were these forecasters to predict a decrease in the claimant count, then the assumption would remain constant at its current level for all future years.
3. These figures are audited by the National Audit Office.
4. Since very few of the external forecasters predict the claimant count beyond 2011-12, the assumption ends in that year.
5. The claimant count in 2011-12 is equivalent to 2.9 per cent. of the economically active population of working age, based on the calculations underpinning the Long-Term Public Finance Report. Projections for 2012-13 onwards assume that this rate will be constant.


Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with the Leader of the House on the (a) ministerial role of and (b) support for the hon. Member for Stevenage. [170004]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 3 December 2007]: I have had no discussions with the Leader of the House on this subject. However, there have been various discussions at official level about the provision of administrative and logistical support from my Department to the Government Equalities Office, including ministerial support.

Unemployed: Basic Skills

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research has been carried out into the number of benefit claimants who have undertaken basic skills training whilst in receipt of benefits and who have subsequently been assessed as having basic skills needs on completion of such training. [162360]

6 Dec 2007 : Column 1512W

Mr. Plaskitt: None. However, to address Jobcentre Plus customers’ skills barriers, the new Employability Skills programme was introduced in August 2007. This programme has been developed specifically for Jobcentre Plus customers. Measurable outcomes include gaining an employability certificate and associated job outcomes.

A joint Jobcentre Plus/Learning and Skills Council management information strategy has been developed to evaluate the impact that this training has on our customers and includes collection of data to measure retention and attrition rates together with outcome data for both qualifications and progression into work.

Jobcentre Plus continues to fund basic skill assessments and training provision for customers that are eligible for the mandatory new deal programmes.

Winter Fuel Payments

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average percentage of pensioners’ energy bills likely to be met by the winter fuel allowance in 2007-08. [163849]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 19 November 2007]: The information is in the following table. The winter fuel payment is intended to provide a contribution towards winter heating bills which account for around 60 per cent. of the total annual fuel bill. The payment provides a significant contribution to these higher winter costs. Winter fuel payments have increased from 20 in 1997-98 to the current value of £200 for households with someone aged 60 to 79 years of age, and £300 for households with someone aged 80 or over.


Average expenditure on fuel (£)


Average winter fuel payment (£)


Likely percentage of total fuel bill met by winter fuel payment (Percentage)


Between 1996-97 and 2005-06 pensioners' incomes increased by 29 per cent. in real terms, compared with a 15 per cent. real terms increase in utility bills between 1996-97 and 2006. It is important to note that whilst pensioner incomes tend to increase consistently, with two per cent growth between 2004-05 and 2005-06 building on the growth in earlier years, utility bills tend to fluctuate.

Average household fuel expenditure for 2007-08 is estimated using the domestic fuel price inflation rate between the second quarter of 2006 to the second quarter of 2007, of 6 per cent. This is the most recent reliable fuel price inflation data, available from the BERR quarterly energy prices September 2007 report. The estimates given here for 2007-08 are subject to change if fuel inflation for the year ahead deviates from this rate.

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