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20 Mar 2008 : Column 1388W—continued

Tolls

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether her proposed new road tolls will be classed as a tax for the methodological purposes of the Office for National Statistics; [194410]

(2) whether her proposals for new road tolls will be revenue neutral. [194411]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In her written statement to Parliament of 4 March 2008, Official Report, columns 106-08WS, the Secretary of State said that Government would be exploring a range of options to manage traffic on motorways where extra capacity is being provided. One of these options is to charge a toll for using one of the lanes. The details of how this could work in practice are currently being developed. It will
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be for the independent Office for National Statistics to determine how any charges should be classified when the options for charging have been more clearly defined.

Transport: Policy

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will place in the Library the assessment made by her Department of the impact of transport policies on different groups in society for each year since 1998. [191759]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department for Transport sponsors a wide range of research and consultation to help us to monitor the effectiveness of our policies. For example, we have recently completed research on the assessment of accessibility standards for disabled people in land based public transport vehicles. This research looks at the effectiveness of accessibility regulations made under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and a copy has been placed in the Library.

West Coast Main Line: Repairs and Maintenance

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent progress has been made on the refurbishment of the West Coast Main Line. [194780]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Government are providing £8.125 billion to renew and upgrade the west coast main line that runs between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. On completion, this investment will deliver a 30 per cent. increase in capacity, significantly faster journeys such as those from the north west to London falling by around 30 minutes, more frequent trains and a seven day railway.

Work and Pensions

Child Support

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2801W, to the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell, on child support, how much and what proportion of debt was classed as collectable in each year since the Child Support Agency was established. [193700]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 13 March 2008]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 20 March 2008:

Child maintenance outstanding as reported in the Child Support Agency annual report and accounts
Period Collectable (£ million) Gross debt (£ million) Percentage collectable (estimate)

1994-95

525.20

525.20

1995-96

565.78

1,066.87

53.0

1996-97

391.43

1,145.47

34.2

1997-98

585.42

1,426.35

41.0

1998-99

671.91

1,759.91

38.2

1999-2000

625.06

2,064.56

30.3

2000-01

585.52

2,310.39

25.3

2001-02

575.09

2,526.52

22.8

2002-03

752.57

2,755.20

27.3

2003-04

941.72

2,980.69

31.6

2004-05

1,237.33

3,252.75

38.0

2005-06

1,387.69

3,495.25

39.7

2006-07

1,444.10

3,686.26

39.2

Notes:
1. The annual report and accounts for previous years were republished in 1997-98, due to a change in accounting policy in reporting collectability of the debt. The republished figures are included in the table.
2. Figures for 1993-94 are not available, as the Agency did not publish audited accounts during that period.
3. The Agency’s current assessment of collectable and uncollectable debt is based on an annual debt analysis exercise. This exercise examines a sample of cases to determine collectability based on the Agency’s past experience. It is an estimate and therefore subject to change as the Agency improves its debt collection and enforcement activities.
4. Annual debt analysis exercise introduced from 1995-96.

Child Support Agency: Payments

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what circumstances consolatory payments are made by (a) his Department, (b) the Child Support Agency, (c) Jobcentre or Jobcentre Plus, (d) the Disability and Carers Service, (e) the Pension Service, (f) the Rent Service and (g) the Debt Management Service; what guidance he issues on the award of consolatory payments in each case; and if he will place a copy of the guidance in the Library. [185932]

Mrs. McGuire: Details of the Department's scheme for financial redress can be found in its guide ‘Financial Redress for Maladministration’ (Revised April 2003). A copy of this guide is kept in the House of Commons Library. It is also available in every DWP office for the general public to read upon request and in the Publications section of the DWP Internet site at http://www.dwp.gov.uk. In addition it is available at main libraries and as a priced document from Corporate Document Services, Publications Orderline, 7 Eastgate, Leeds, LS2 7LY.

A consolatory special payment may be made under the scheme by any of the Department's businesses where it is found that maladministration has had a direct adverse effect on the life of a customer. In line with the parliamentary and Health Service
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Ombudsman's 'Principles for Remedy', in deciding the level of compensation regard is had to:

Child Support: Administration

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost has been of developing the new child support system. [188522]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 20 March 2008:

Children: Maintenance

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was outstanding in child maintenance arrears at the Child Support Agency in each of the last 10 years. [185126]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 20 March 2008:


20 Mar 2008 : Column 1392W
Financial year £ million

2006-07

3,686.3

2005-06

3,495.3

2004-05

3,252.8

2003-04

3,017.9

2002-03

2,748.0

2001-02

2,526.5

2000-01

2,310.4

1999-2000

2,064.6

1998-99

1,759.9

1997-98

1,426.4


Children: Poverty

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent progress has been made towards delivering the commitment to eradicate child poverty in the United Kingdom by 2020. [192823]

Mr. Timms: Poverty is a complex and multidimensional issue and, as such, there are many possible measures of poverty.

While income alone does not provide a wide enough measure of poverty, it is generally accepted that low income is central to any poverty measurement. The Government have succeeded in arresting and reversing the rising trend of child poverty with 600,000 children lifted out of relative low income since 1998-99.

A further 300,000 children will be lifted out of relative poverty as a result of last year’s Budget and comprehensive spending review. And measures announced in Budget 2008 will lift up to 250,000 additional children out of relative poverty from 2010-11.

The Government believe that work is the most sustainable route out of poverty. The Government are supporting families to escape poverty by increasing employment and raising incomes for those who can work.

In the second Quarter of 2007, there were more than 1 million lone parents in work—335,000 more than in 1997. The lone parent employment rate was 57.2 per cent. up 12.5 percentage points since 1997.

Since 1997, the Government have radically reformed the system of financial support for families. As a result of the Government’s reforms to the tax and benefit system, from April 2010, households with children in the poorest fifth of the population will be, on average, £4,500 a year better off in real terms.

On 12 March 2008, the Government reaffirmed their commitment to halving child poverty by 2010 and eliminating it by 2020 with the publication of “Ending child poverty: everybody’s business”. This sets out the Government’s long-term strategy for achieving those targets and is available in the Library.


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