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Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason the Pensions Service is informing individual state pension claimants in correspondence that the Post Office Card Account service will no longer be available from 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 5 June 2008]: While the existing Post Office card account contract ends in March 2010, there will be a successor product, and DWP is in the process of tendering for a supplier.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of (a) male and (b) female pensioners in each region who will be eligible for means-tested benefits in each year until 2050; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of pensioners who will have marginal deduction rates of (a) zero to 10 per cent., (b) 11 to 20 per cent., (c) 21 to 30 per cent., (d) 31 to 40 per cent., (e) 41 to 50 per cent., (f) 51 to 60 per cent., (g) 61 to 70 per cent., (h) 71 to 80 per cent., (i) 81 to 90 per cent. and (j) 91 to 100 per cent. in each year until 2050. 
Measures to improve the coverage and generosity of the state pension together with reform of the savings credit are projected to reduce the proportion of pensioner households entitled to income related benefits over the long term.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people who will flow on to the employment and support allowance in each of the next five years he estimates will be claiming the benefit by the (a) income channel and (b) contribution channel; 
(3) how many people he estimates will flow on to the work channel of the employment and support allowance and be claiming the benefit by (a) the income channel and (b) the contribution channel in the next five years; 
(4) how many people he expects will flow onto the support channel of the employment and support allowance and be claiming the benefit by (a) the income channel and (b) the contribution channel. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answers 10 June and 11 June 2008]: We expect that 10 per cent. of new employment and support allowance customers will flow into the support group, and that 90 per cent of new employment and support allowance customers will flow into the work related activity group.
|Employment and support allowance: Estimated benefit onflows|
1. Figures for 2008-09 relate to six months only; ESA will be introduced in October 2008.
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest five thousand. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding.
3. Figures are consistent with benefit expenditure tables available on the DWP website through the following link:
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department paid in (a) housing benefit and (b) council tax benefit to people in (i) working age households and (ii) working age households in receipt of out-of-work benefits in the London borough of Bexley in each of the last five years. 
Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what change in his Department's expenditure on benefits resulted from treating cohabiting couples the same as married couples for the purpose of benefit calculation in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Treating cohabiting couples in the same way as married couples for the purpose of benefit entitlement is a longstanding principle. There has therefore been no change in the Department's expenditure on benefits for cohabiting couples.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people receive (a) the disability premium for income support, (b) enhanced disability premium for income support, (c) the severe disability premium for income support and (d) both incapacity benefit and the enhanced disability premium for income support. 
|Number of income support claimants by type of disability premium, Great Britain, November 2007|
|Type of disability premium||Number of IS claimants|
| Notes: 1. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. 2. Income Support claimants may be entitled to more than one disability premium. 3. Overlaps between disability premiums have been removed. 4. Figures exclude residual Minimum Income Guarantee claimants. Source: DWP Information Directorate 100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.|
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were (a) convicted and (b) received a custodial sentence in respect of an offence of benefit fraud in (i) each of the last two years and (ii) each quarter of each of the last two years; and how many were dealt with by way of caution in the same period. 
|Numbers of convictions, custodial sentences and cautions for benefit fraud in Great Britain|
2006-07 figures are FIBS (Fraud Information by Sector) only.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of benefit overpayments due to (a) fraud, (b) official error and (c) customer error, broken down by (i) Jobcentre Plus district, (ii) region, (iii) constituency and (iv) local authority area in each year since 1997 for which figures are available. 
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost which would arise from (a) increasing the state pension by (i) 10 per cent., (ii) 25 per cent., by 50 per cent. and (iv) 100 per cent. and (b) setting the state pension at the average level of other EU member states. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The net additional cost of increasing the basic state pension by 10 per cent, 25 per cent, 50 per cent or 100 per cent. instead of the current baseline assumption of RPI or 2.5 per cent, whichever is the highest, in the year 2009-10 is given in the following table.
|Uprating the basic state pension in 2009-10 by: per cent.||Net additional annual cost in 2009-10 (£ billion, 2008-09 prices)|
| Notes: 1. Estimates are presented in net terms reflecting that the estimated savings from reduced income related benefit payments (pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit) have been deducted. The proportions of additional expenditure saved through reduced income related benefit payments have been estimated using the Department's policy simulation model and are assumed to remain constant over time. 2. In the baseline costing for the financial year 2009/10 Treasury Economic assumptions consistent with Budget 2008 have been used to model basic State Pension uprating. 3.Estimates are in 2008-09 prices and have been rounded to the nearest £100 million. Source: DWP modelling|
Data are not available to make a direct comparison of the UK state pension level with that of the average level of other EU member states. The level of state pensions in each country reflects differences in factors, such as Government policy choices and the cost of living, making cross-country comparisons difficult. However, Eurostat data indicate that taking into account all sources of income, UK pensioners have the fifth highest median net income in the EU.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Details of the real value of the basic state pension in each year from 1979 to 2006 can be found in The Abstract of Statistics for Benefits, National Insurance Contributions, and Indices of Prices and Earnings (2006), produced by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the average state pension would be today if the link between earnings and pension levels had been continuously maintained. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Average weekly payments of the state pension were estimated at approximately £97 in 2007-08; this amount is comprised of both the basic state pension and additional state pension. Had the basic state pension remained linked to earnings since 1980, the average state pension is estimated to have been around £140 a week in 2007-08.
During the next Parliament, we will re-link the uprating of the basic state pension to average earnings. Our objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal
position, is to do this in 2012, but in any event by the end of the next Parliament at the latest. We will make a statement on the precise date at the beginning of the next Parliament.
To 2008-09, the Government will be spending around £8.3 billion more on pensioners due to tax and benefit changes since 1997, than just restoring an earnings link from 1997 would have delivered. Pensioners are on average, £19 a week better off in 2008-09 as a result of Government measures since 1997, than if an earnings link had been applied to the basic state pension from 1997. The poorest third of pensioners are around £33 a week better off.
1. The amount estimated is for GB pensioners as at September 2007.
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