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20 Mar 2008 : Column 1392W—continued


20 Mar 2008 : Column 1393W

Council Tax Benefit

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether he plans to rename council tax benefit as council tax rebate as recommended by Sir Michael Lyons; [194103]

(2) if he will increase the upper savings limit relating to council tax benefit; [194104]

(3) what discussions he has had with Ministerial counterparts on the possibility of paying council tax benefit automatically to those entitled to it; and if he will make a statement. [194105]

Mr. Plaskitt: Renaming council tax benefit to reflect its true nature as a tax rebate might help encourage more people to make a claim for it. But we want to consider this as part of our wider consideration of how the benefit might be better delivered.

We have no current plans to change the upper savings limit for eligibility to council tax benefit. But we keep it under review as we do for the other income-related benefits. Any changes would have to be considered alongside other priorities.

My officials, with their counterparts in the Department for Communities and Local Government and Her Majesty’s Treasury, have held numerous discussions about making council tax benefit more accessible and improving take-up by all those entitled to council tax benefit.

Improving take-up among pensioners is our top priority, and people claiming pension credit on the telephone can already access council tax benefit (and housing benefit) during the same phone call. From October 2008, this process will take place without the need for a claim form. The Pension Service will automatically pass the council tax benefit information to the local authority to assess entitlement.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of claimants who were underpaid council tax benefit in 2006-07 have now received their full entitlement for that year. [194670]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available.

Departmental Advertising

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of his Department’s expenditure was on advertising in each of the last 10 years. [183005]

Mrs. McGuire: The following table details the DWP expenditure on advertising, the total expenditure for the Department as published in the departmental Report 2007 and advertising expenditure expressed as a percentage of the total Departmental expenditure:


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Advertising expenditure (£ million) Departmental total expenditure (£ million) Advertising costs (percentage)

2006-07

8.549

7685

0.11

2005-06

6.852

7732

0.09

2004-05

22.821

7731

0.30

2003-04

41.78

7590

0.55

2002-03

6.322

6817

0.09


The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001 from the Department of Social Security (DSS), the Employment Service (ES) and parts of the Department for Educations and Employment (DfEE) and information prior to this is not held centrally and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost.

The advertising expenditure figures relate to media buying expenditure only, which forms the bulk of Departmental publicity expenditure, but excludes direct mail, public relations, production and other costs. All figures are exclusive of VAT and do not include the following as the information is not held centrally and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost:

Departmental Data Protection

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether confidential or personal information has been compromised through the loss of property from his Department since 1997. [193441]

Mr. Timms: Except in exceptional cases, when it is in the public interest, it has been the policy of successive governments not to comment on breaches of security. However, following the publication of the Data Handling Procedures in Government: Interim Progress Report on 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 98WS, all Departments will cover information assurance issues in their annual reports.

Departmental Recruitment

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the policy of British jobs for British workers will affect his Department's recruitment policy. [179888]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions operate in accordance with the civil service nationality rules. These rules are statutorily based and govern eligibility for employment in the civil service. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Departmental Sick Pay

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of sickness pay to staff within his Department was in the most recent year for which figures are available. [187513]


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Mrs. McGuire: The average annual cost of sickness pay per member of staff of £916 in 2007 reflects current data on the Department’s personnel computer system. This was introduced incrementally from November 2006, being fully implemented by April 2007.

DWP is committed to reducing sickness absence levels. Our approach is to support employees to prevent them falling ill, for example by providing professional stress counselling, and to use qualified occupational health advice to help staff return to work as early as possible when they do take sick leave.

Housing Benefit: Glossop

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact which the transfer of the SK13 postcode area to the North East Greater Manchester locality of the rent service will have on the level of housing benefit paid to people on income support in Glossop. [194687]

Mr. Plaskitt: Housing benefit customers in the SK13 area may be affected by the review of localities when their annual referral to the rent officer is made. This process occurs gradually over the course of a year, depending on when the customer made their original claim for housing benefit. Only those customers who have been in receipt of housing benefit for a continuous period of 52 weeks or more, and who made a claim prior to the introduction of the new locality, will be affected.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that (providing there is no change in a customer’s circumstances), in the post area of SK13, around 1 per cent. of customers would experience an increase in their benefit entitlement, around 81 per cent. a reduced entitlement and around 18 per cent. would experience no change as a result of the new locality. However, the actual impact is dependent on whether customers break their claim, move into work or move onto the local housing allowance.

As of October 2007 (latest available data), 189 customers in Glossop were on housing benefit and claiming income support. It is not possible to assess the impact of the locality review on this specific group as this information is not held at this level of detail.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people have been (a) removed from and (b) in receipt of incapacity benefit (i) nationally and (ii) in Blaenau Gwent constituency since 2006; [192815]

(2) how many individuals have had their eligibility for receipt of incapacity benefit withdrawn by the incapacity medical board against the advice of such individuals’ general practitioners since 2006. [192816]

Mrs. McGuire: Information about the number of individuals who have had their eligibility for receipt of incapacity benefit withdrawn by the incapacity medical board against the advice of such individuals’ general practitioners is not available. The available information is in the following tables.


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Number of incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance terminations
Great Britain Blaenau Gwent
All reasons Failed personal capability assessment All reasons Failed personal capability assessment

February 2006

156,000

22,400

(1)400

May 2006

163,000

27,400

(1)300

August 2006

168,000

29,900

(1)400

(1)100

November 2006

165,500

29,300

500

(1)200

February 2007

163,900

28,800

(1)400

May 2007

127,700

33,700

(1)400

(1)100

‘—’ Nil or Negligible.
(1) Figures are subject to a high degree of sampling error and should only be used as a guide.
Notes:
1. Terminations are incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance claims that have ended.
2. These figures have been updated to include late notified terminations, including terminations for state pension.
3. Figures for the latest quarter do not include any late notifications and are subject to major changes in future quarters. For illustration purposes, total terminations for May 2004 increased by 33 per cent. in the year following their initial release.
4. Due to operational procedures a small number of personal capability assessment terminations appear in ‘Other reasons’.
5. Since April 2001 severe disablement allowance has been closed to new claimants.
Source:
DWP Information Directorate 100 per cent Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance case loads
May 2006 May 2007

GB(1)

2,730,000

2,685,320

Blaenau Gwent

7,550

7,150

(1) GB includes a small number of abroad cases.
Note:
Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
Source:
DWP Information Directorate 100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Income Support: Lone Parents

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) male and (b) female lone parents in each region claimed income support in each year since 1997. [194673]

Mr. Plaskitt: The available information on the number of male and female lone parents in each region and nation who were in receipt of income support in each year since 1997 has been placed in the Library.

Industrial Health and Safety: Accidents

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people (a) reported accidents at work and (b) received compensation for accidents at work in 2007. [181660]

Mrs. McGuire: The number of accidents at work that led to injury are given in the following table and cover the financial year 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007. These statistics are derived from RIDDOR- which is the only source of officially ‘reported’ data, published
20 Mar 2008 : Column 1397W
under National Statistics guidelines. Statistics covering the period from 1 April 2007 (up to 31 March 2008) will not be complete, validated and available until November 2008.

Injuries in Great Britain by severity of injury, reported to all enforcing authorities (HSE, local authorities and the Office of Rail Regulation) 2006-07
Fatal injuries Non-fatal injuries Over 3 day injuries Total injuries

Employees

185

28,267

113,083

141,535

Self employed

56

1,183

1,139

2,378

Members of public

369

17,483

(2)

17,852

(1) RIDDOR—The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 1995
(2) Not RIDDOR reportable

As compensation is a matter for the civil courts, HSE does not collect this information. Quarterly figures for work accidents compensated under the industrial injuries scheme can be found on the DWP website, but this does not cover private compensation awards.

Jobcentre Plus: Dismissal

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much compensation has been paid to the 497 staff dismissed for poor attendance by Jobcentre Plus between October 2006 and September 2007; [177834]

(2) what the cost was to Jobcentre Plus of the attendance management procedures, including staff time to issue warnings and investigate grievances, associated with the dismissal of 497 people for unsatisfactory attendance between October 2006 and September 2007; [177835]

(3) what costs Jobcentre Plus incurred in employment tribunals and legal fees arising from the dismissal of 497 individuals for poor attendance between October 2006 and September 2007. [177836]

Mr. Timms: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 20 March 2008:


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