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7 Feb 2008 : Column 1352W—continued

Weekly earnings First £ 62 Over £ 62 Employer


£64.00 to £109.99




£110.00 to £154.99




£155.00 to £209.99




£210.00 to £485.00




7 Feb 2008 : Column 1353W

Employee Employer













Up to UEL Over UEL Employer





















(1) Employers pay NICs on all earnings above the Upper Earnings Limit (UEL)
(2) Employees pay NICs on all earnings above the UEL
Reduced rates apply on earnings paid to those in contracted-out employment (both employee and employer) and those women electing to pay reduce rate NIC (employee only).

Natural Gas: Safety

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will take steps to promote greater awareness among domestic landlords and their tenants of their duties and rights under gas safety regulations. [182672]

Mrs. McGuire: Landlords are responsible for ensuring that gas systems and appliances are safe for their tenants to use and checked annually for safety by installers registered with the Council for Registered Gas Installers (CORGI). The Health and Safety Executive promotes awareness of these matters through its website, through published alerts and through free leaflets for landlords and for the public, including tenants. CORGI also promotes gas safety messages for landlords and tenants in its public information.

New Deal Schemes: Enfield

Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people found work in Enfield North through the New Deal in (a) 1997 and (b) 2007. [182922]

Mrs. McGuire: The new deal programme started in January 1998. The available information is in the following table.

7 Feb 2008 : Column 1354W
People into work through new deal in Enfield North





January to May 2007(2)


(1) Data are for the earliest and latest full calendar years.
(2) Latest information is only available for January to May 2007.
1. Programme start dates are:
new deal for young people: January 1998;
new deal 25-plus: July 1998;
new deal for lone parents: October 1998;
new deal for partners: April 1999;
new deal 50-plus: April 2000;
new deal for disabled people: July 2001.
2. Data for 1998 only include information for new deal for young people, new deal 25-plus and new deal for lone parents.
3. New deal for young people operated as a pilot in 12 pathfinder locations only (not including Enfield North) from January to March 1998, and was rolled out nationally in April 1998.
4. Data are rounded to the nearest 10.
DWP Information Directorate.

Pension Credit

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many residents in Milton Keynes received pension credit in each year since its inception. [178613]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The number of households receiving and individual beneficiaries of pension credit in Milton Keynes local authority are shown in the following table.

Household recipients Individual beneficiaries

November 2003



May 2004



May 2005



May 2006



May 2007



1. The number of households in receipt and individual beneficiaries are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Pension credit was introduced in October 2003 so data for 2003 is as at November.
3. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.
DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data

Pensioners: Council Tax Benefits

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the take-up rate was of council tax benefit for pensioners in each year since 1997-98 for which figures are available. [184654]

Mr. Plaskitt: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave on 15 January 2008, Official Report, column 1150W, to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable).

Pensioners: Fuel Poverty

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that recent increases in energy prices do not increase levels of poverty among pensioners. [181212]

7 Feb 2008 : Column 1355W

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government are committed to tackling fuel poverty. Fuel prices do fluctuate and although fuel prices have risen since 2003 this follows a period of price stability between 1997 and 2003. 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.

Winter fuel payments provide a significant contribution to pensioners’ heating bills. The winter fuel payment has risen from £20 in 1997-98 to £200 and £300 for oldest pensioners. Last year the winter fuel payment helped more than 11 million older people with their fuel bills, and assistance has been provided for two million low income households though schemes to improve energy efficiency, for example through better heating and insulation.

Incomes of the poorest pensioner households have risen by around 30 per cent. over the last 10 years. In addition we have successively raised the pension credit standard minimum guarantee in line with earnings every year since its introduction. In April 2008 the standard minimum guarantee will rise by 4.2 per cent. which is higher than the relevant average earnings index, ensuring that pension credit more than keeps pace with earnings and prices.

Pensioners: Poverty

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the number of pensioners living in poverty in the London Borough of Bexley. [182096]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Specific information regarding low income for the United Kingdom is available in “Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2005/06”. The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.

The data source does not allow us to provide robust numbers for estimates below the level of Government office region. However there are approximately 200,000 pensioners living in London with below 60 per cent. of median income (after housing costs). This figure is the average over three survey years, 2003/04 to 2005/06, and is based on information from the Family Resources Survey.

7 Feb 2008 : Column 1356W

Performance Appraisals

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2008, Official Report, column 1381W, on performance appraisals, in what format information is available on departmental staff (a) performance against objectives and (b) appraisals; [181263]

(2) what information is collected by his Department on the performance of departmental staff (a) at appraisals and (b) against objectives. [181264]

Mrs. McGuire: Information is not collated centrally on the performance of departmental staff against objectives.

Information is collated on employee’s overall performance levels. Managers award one of four performance levels: ‘Top’, ‘Higher’, ‘Majority’ or ‘Lower’. The information of the percentage of employees at each level is then collated across the Department.

Poverty: Young People

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken to combat poverty among young people in otherwise wealthy rural areas. [181157]

Mrs. McGuire: There are greater variations of both unemployment and poverty within regions than there are between them, both in rural and urban regions.

The Government believe that employment is the best route out of poverty for families both now and in the future. By helping more parents into work now we will be able to break the cycle of generational benefit dependency and help prevent more young people from living a life on benefits in the future.

Since 1997, the proportion of children living in workless households has fallen from 18.7 per cent. to 16 per cent. in quarter two of 2007. This is a reduction of over 405,000 nationally.

We also believe that early engagement in learning and educational attainment is key to providing positive outcomes for young people and reducing the risk of them falling into poverty in later life, irrespective of where they live.

Progress is being made. 2006 saw the highest numbers ever continuing in full-time education when they completed year 11 across the country. In addition, since 1997 the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training has fallen from 17.8 per cent. to 17.1 per cent. nationally, with rural areas having a better figure than the national figure; 13.7 per cent. according to the latest figures available.

In order to assist young people stay in full-time education, especially in rural areas, local authorities have to make transport arrangements where they consider it ‘necessary’ to secure a child’s attendance at school and in those circumstances it must be free of charge. In addition, the Education and Inspections Act 2006 extended entitlement to free school travel for pupils entitled to free school meals or whose parents are in receipt of maximum working tax credit.

7 Feb 2008 : Column 1357W

To help those young people who are having difficulties getting into education, employment or training the Government have recently strengthened their strategy to help them do so. We plan to give early access to the new deal to 18-year-olds who claim jobseeker’s allowance having already spent a period of time not working or studying, giving them direct support and advice on the best way to start on the road to a life of employment.

Social Security Benefits: Young People

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the minimum income guarantee is for young people aged 16 to 18 living independently; and if he will make a statement. [183142]

Mrs. McGuire: There is no minimum income guarantee for young people aged 16 to 18.

It is this Government’s aim to encourage 16 and 17-year-old school leavers to make the most of their potential by entering further education, employment or taking up the Government's guarantee of a place on Work Based Learning for Young People rather than encouraging them to live independently.

Young people under the age of 18 do not have automatic entitlement to jobseeker’s allowance unless they fall into what is known as a ‘prescribed circumstance’. These circumstances are specified in the jobseeker’s allowance regulations. Where a young person does not come within a prescribed circumstance, the regulations do allow for the discretionary award of jobseeker’s allowance, but only where the young person can show that they would be in severe hardship were they not to receive benefit.

Income support is available for people who do not have to demonstrate their availability for work and training, for example, young people who are sick or disabled, are lone parents, or who are continuing in non-advanced full-time education while estranged from their parents.

Young people under 18 can qualify for other benefits, such as incapacity or disability benefits, in their own right where they meet the qualifying conditions.

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