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(b) In the five years prior to the establishment of the Department for Work and Pensions, the Appeals Service was established by the Department of Social Security in April 2000. The agency transferred to the Department for Constitutional Affairs in April 2006
Thanks to this Governments handling of the economy and active labour market policies, there are today more UK nationals in work than there were in 1997 and a higher proportion of UK nationals of working age have jobs than they did in 1997.
Mrs. McGuire: The new HSE Headquarters in Bootle was procured under the Private Finance Initiative. The projected capital cost of the new headquarters was £58.3 million (2003 prices) comprising £57 million on construction which was met by the contractor and £1.3 million land purchase met by HSE. The actual cost including £1.7 million infrastructure costs was £60 million.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the potential savings created by the proposed reduction in backdating of housing benefit and council tax benefit claims will be ring-fenced for redeployment in support for housing. 
Mr. Plaskitt: For any administrative savings, it is up to local authorities to decide how best to administer housing benefit and council tax benefit and how they use any savings resulting from more efficient and streamlined services.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish (a) the findings from the evaluation of the local housing allowances in the 18 pathfinder areas and (b) evidence available to his Department on the likely effects of direct payment of housing allowance in cases where housing benefit would have been paid to the landlord. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 4 February 2008]: The Department commissioned an independent evaluation of the local housing allowance within the nine pathfinder areas. This included qualitative and quantitative evidence gathered from landlords in all the pathfinder areas. The findings of the evaluation have been published as they have become available.
The final reports of the landlord stream of the evaluation, (reports No. 11 and 12) that were published in late 2006 explore the landlords experience of direct payment and copies are in the House Libraries and on the Departments website.
The evaluation did not include the further nine second wave group of local authorities who introduced the local housing allowance a year after the pathfinders, but their experience has informed the Departments strategy for national roll-out the local housing allowance due to commence in April this year.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what changes are being made to local housing allowance from April 2008; and what guidance has been given to local authorities accordingly. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Through the comprehensive and independent evaluation of local housing allowance (LHA) in the nine pathfinder areas, we have identified a number of changes to the scheme that will apply for national roll-out.
We will cap the maximum amount of LHA that someone can receive (before non-dependant deductions and means-testing rules are applied) at £15 a week over and above the amount they need to pay their rent to strike a balance between choice and work incentives. In the pathfinder areas, there was no cap on excess benefits.
The criteria used to determine the appropriate size of property for a household will be simplified to be based on the number of bedrooms to ensure they are easier to apply and understand and better reflect the way in which properties are advertised in the private market.
LHA rates will be set at the median market rent in an area, rather than (as now) the midpoint between highest and lowest. This will provide a more accurate system that reflects the distribution of rents in an area and will ensure 50 per cent. of the properties in the local area will be affordable for housing benefit customers.
We will roll out LHA to new and existing customers who move home or have a break in their claim. In the pathfinders, some local authorities converted all of their private rented sector case load in one big bang approach.
The Department delivered 20 regional seminars for local authorities throughout summer 2007. A range of implementation and guidance products have already been made available to assist local authorities with specific activities, based largely on examples of good practice provided by LHA pathfinder authorities.
We have developed a range of products to support local authorities in communicating with their stakeholders, particularly welfare rights organisations and landlords. A key aim of the LHA is to promote financial inclusion by encouraging tenants to have their benefit paid directly into their own bank accounts, and we have provided advice and information to local authorities to enable them to support their customers in opening bank accounts.
|Number of recipients receiving housing benefit in Great Britain 1997-2007|
| Notes: 1. The data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple. 2. The figures have been rounded to the nearest ten. 3. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated. 4. Housing benefit figures exclude any Extended Payment cases. 5. Figures taken from May data of each year. 6. Housing benefit goes to both working age and pension households. Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in May 1997-2007.|
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many housing benefit recipients aged (a) under 24 years, (b) between 25 and 35 years, (c) between 40 and 59 years and (d) over 60 years have been resident in (i) local authority, (ii) housing association and (iii) private housing in each year since 1997. 
Information on housing benefit recipients split by age is only available from the annual 1 per cent. sample, the latest being at May 2004. The age ranges in the table differ slightly to the information requested.
|Housing benefit recipients by age and tenure in Great Britain for 1997 to 2004|
|As at May each year||All Ages||24 and under||25-35||36-39||40-59||60 and over|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.
2. Figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation.
3. The data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.
4. Housing benefit figures exclude extended payment cases.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System, Annual 1 per cent. sample, taken in May 1997 to May 2004.
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