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Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment has been made of the efficacy of penalties which HM Revenue and Customs can impose on employers who do not co-operate over the payment of statutory sick pay; and what further measures are planned to secure prompt employer compliance. 
Mrs. McGuire: The penalties which can be imposed on an employer for refusing or repeatedly refusing to pay statutory sick pay are up to a maximum of £3,000. The maximum weekly amount of statutory sick pay payable is £75.40; the maximum period for which this amount is payable is 28 weeks leading to a total maximum payment of just over £2,100. The level of penalties is therefore reasonable and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has no plans to revise them.
Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken is following the date of the original claim, for statutory sick pay to be paid to claimants; and what steps are being taken to reduce this time. 
Employers are responsible for the payment and administration of statutory sick pay. They are required to pay their employee statutory sick pay at the same time as they would have paid wages for the same period. Employers are advised that delays in paying statutory sick pay may cause their employee financial difficulty.
Mrs. McGuire: The payment and administration of statutory sick pay are the responsibility of employers. There is no provision in statutory sick pay legislation for compensation to be paid by an employer to an employee for late payments. Any compensation for non-payment within a specific timescale is therefore a matter between the employer and their employee.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) handles disputes between employers and employees in relation to entitlement to statutory sick pay and may in some exceptional circumstances take on responsibility for paying Statutory Sick Pay in the case of defaulting employers or where employers are insolvent.
Where there is an unreasonable delay in a payment by HMRC of statutory sick pay, an ex gratia payment may be considered under the provisions of the HMRC complaints policy. There is no automatic right to such payments.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the likely effects on the number of claimants of changing the criteria for partially and severely sight impaired people
to claim the highest benefit band of the disability living allowance. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 15 September 2008]: The higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance may be paid to people who are unable or virtually unable to walk. At the end of February 2008 there were 1,723,150 people in receipt of the higher rate mobility component, 4,640 of whose main disabling condition is recorded as blindness.
If the entitlement conditions for the higher rate mobility component were amended to include all partially and severely sight impaired people we could expect the numbers in receipt of that component to increase by just over 60,000 to around 1,783,250. Most of those who would be newly entitled to the higher rate would be people who receive the lower rate mobility component at the moment.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are claiming disability living allowance for (a) partial and (b) severe sight impairment in (i) Wakefield district, (ii) Hemsworth constituency and (iii) nationally. 
|Disability living allowance: main disabling condition of blindness|
|Cases in payment: February 2008|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.
3. Where the claimant is eligible for both care and mobility components, the disabling condition associated with the mobility component is shown here. Where more than one disability is present only the main disabling condition is recorded.
4. A diagnosed medical condition does not mean that someone is automatically entitled to DLA. Entitlement is dependent on an assessment of how much help someone needs with personal care and/or mobility because of their disability. These statistics are only collected for administrative purposes/
5. Partial and severe sight impairment cannot be separated individually.
6. These figures are published at www.nomisweb.com.
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the budget allocation for (a) crisis loans, (b) community care grants and (c) budgeting loans was for each Jobcentre Plus office administering such schemes in each year since April 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
|Loans Budgets for Jobcentre Plus budget areas|
|2006-07( 1)||2007-08( 1)|
|(1) Loans budgets for Jobcentre Plus districts (now budget areas) are therefore given only for the final reallocation or in year allocation in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 financial years. These figures do not include some end of year adjustments to ensure no budgets were overspent. These adjustments were made possible because of underspends elsewhere.|
|Community care grant budgets for Jobcentre Plus budget areas for 2007-08|
1. There are not separate budgets for crisis loans and budgeting loans, but rather a combined loans budget for both. The loans budget is managed centrally and re-allocations are made to Jobcentre Plus budget areas quarterly and towards the end of the year. Funds are taken from some of those budget areas with a projected end of year underspend and given to other budget areas.
2. To provide comparable data, budgets are presented on the basis of the current budget area structure. In recent years, there have been many changes to the boundaries of Jobcentre Plus districts, which have led to adjustment of the budgets for the districts involved. In some cases, a district has been split and the parts merged with other districts. For the districts involved in such a situation it is not possible to give comparable budgets from April 2003. The last split took place in August 2006.
3. Community Care Grants for 2006-07 were set before the boundary change in August 2006 involving a split district, and so are not given here. Community Care Grants budgets are not reallocated during the year. However, some allocations were made from the Contingency Reserve in 2007-08. These have not been included. The budgets for 2008-09 are the same as for 2007-08.
Departmental records of budgets.
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