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17 Dec 2008 : Column 828Wcontinued
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the financial impact on Pathways to Work providers and their clients of the period between when a client first moves into employment and their first received earnings; and what plans he has to amend the rules regarding the cessation of benefit payments to individuals immediately upon entering employment. 
Mr. McNulty [holding answer 15 December 2008]: We have a range of provisions in place to provide financial security for and reassurance to individuals who move from benefit into full-time employment. These include the job grant, mortgage interest run-on and housing and council tax benefit extended payments scheme. All are intended to help bridge the gap between benefit and receipt of first wages, to help individuals adjust to extra financial demands, and to remove any disincentive to claimants to take up employment. Help is available from the Adviser Discretion Fund to provide financial assistance at the point of transition into work, and a return to work credit is also available to ensure work pays once people move from benefit and start work.
We have no immediate plans to amend these rules but will keep them under consideration. No assessment has been made of any impact on Pathways to Work providers.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of new pension credit claims were not processed within 15 days in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: While the majority of claims are processed within the actual average clearance time target, there are some cases where it is necessary to request additional information from the customer to ensure they get all the money to which they are entitled.
The time taken to process a claim does not affect the start date of payments. Payment will be backdated to the point the claim was first submitted.
People should claim as soon as they think they are eligible. From October customers can claim four benefits in one free phone call: state pension, pension credit, council tax benefit and housing benefit. In some circumstances, we will also arrange face to face visits to help with completion of the claim.
The information available is in the following table.
|Pension credit clearance times|
AACTActual Average Clearance Time.
Pension Service Legacy System
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that pensioners in Tendring are able to pay their winter heating bills; 
(2) what steps he is taking to assist pensioners in Tendring in meeting the cost of their fuel needs. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Winter fuel payments provide a significant contribution to peoples heating costs in winter and were created to give pensioners reassurance that they can afford to heat their homes in winter. This winter, an additional payment will be made of £50 for households with someone aged 60-79 and £100 for households with someone aged 80 or over increasing the winter fuel payment to £250 and £400 respectively. Pensioners may also qualify for cold weather payments when there is a spell of very cold weather in their area. This winter, cold weather payments have been increased from £8.50 to £25.
Pensioners can also take advantage of the help available through a range of fuel poverty programmes such as the Warm Front Scheme in England. Increased funding for the Warm Front Scheme was announced in the recent pre-Budget report. This complements the addition of £1 billion of measures announced by the Government in September aimed at helping those vulnerable to fuel poverty.
Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans his Department has to make the public aware of changes to the regulation of safeguarded rights; 
(2) what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that pension providers are prepared for changes to the regulation of safeguarded rights. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department will notify all occupational and personal pension schemes of the abolition of safeguarded rights and will issue a press release.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the terms and conditions of the new Post Office card account will be; and how they will differ from those under the current contract; 
(2) when he expects the negotiation process for the Post Office card account contract to conclude. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: We are currently in the process of finalising the details of the contract (including the terms and conditions) with Post Office Ltd.
Both DWP and the Post Office are aiming to finalise the contract as quickly as possible.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time was for decisions to be taken on crisis loan applications in (a) each of the last 12 quarters and (b) in each month of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Kitty Ussher: The information requested is shown in the following tables.
|Average time for decisions to be taken on crisis loan applications in Great Britain in each of the last 12 quarters|
|Quarter ending||Average actual clearance time (working days)|
|Average time for decisions to be taken on crisis loan applications in Great Britain in each month of the last three years|
|Month||Average actual clearance time (working days)|
1. The clearance time for an individual Crisis Loan application is measured in whole working days from the date the application is received until the date the decision is taken on whether to make a loan offer and, if a loan offer is made, the number of whole working days between receiving the applicants reply to the offer and the recording of that reply. The minimum clearance time recorded for an individual Crisis Loan application is one working day, even if the application is cleared immediately.
2. Numbers are based on applications cleared in each period, not on applications received during that period.
DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the (a) employment and (b) unemployment rate of (i) lone fathers, (ii) lone mothers and (iii) lone parents with the equivalent of five GCSEs or fewer aged (A) 16 to 24, (B) 25 to 34, (C) 34 to 49 and (D) 50 years to state retirement age in each quarter for the last 10 years. 
Kevin Brennan: I have been asked to reply.
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.
Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated December 2008:
As National Statistician. I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking the (a) employment and (b) unemployment rate of (i) lone fathers (ii) lone mothers and (iii) lone parents with the equivalent of five GCSEs or fewer aged (A) 16 to 24 (B) 25 to 34 (C) 34 to 49 and (D) 50 years to state retirement age in each quarter for the last 10 years. (241705)
The available information is provided in the attached table.
The information requested has been answered using annual estimates derived from the Annual Population Survey (APS) household dataset, which are only available from 2004. Quarterly estimates derived from the Labour Force Survey are of insufficient quality for answering this question due to the detail requested. Estimates for lone fathers derived from the APS arc unreliable at this detailed level and have not been provided.
It is vital to note that as with any sample survey, estimates from the APS are subject to a margin of uncertainty as different samples give different results. Estimates should be treated with caution when comparing two time periods as observed changes may not be statistically significant.
|Employment and unemployment rates( 1) for all lone parents and lone mothers with the equivalent of five GCSEs or fewer, by age group, January to December for each year 2004 to 2007, United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted|
|Employment rate||Unemployment rate||Employment rate||Unemployment rate||Employment rate||Unemployment rate|
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