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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 2 February 2009

Work and Pensions

Pension Credit: Savings

12. Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to amend the 10 per cent. rule on savings when calculating pension credit. [253035]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Tariff income rules provide a simple method of calculating the contribution people with £6,000 of capital are expected to make and does not reflect any rate of return.

80 per cent. of pension credit recipients are unaffected by the tariff income rules.

Incapacity Benefit

13. Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has for future arrangements for assistance offered by his Department to long-term recipients of incapacity benefit. [253036]

James Purnell: We have already invested heavily to support existing incapacity benefit customers into work, by ensuring they can volunteer for any appropriate back to work support available in Pathways to Work. Our recent White Paper announced a strong package of new initiatives to provide further support to this group, including pilots of new innovative approaches such as the ‘invest to save’ pathfinders recommended by David Freud.

Jobcentre Plus

17. Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps Jobcentre Plus is taking to help unemployed people find jobs. [253040]

Mr. McNulty: Everyone who becomes unemployed has access to the thousands of jobs on the Jobcentre Plus website or through the jobs helpline. Despite the recent increases in claimants, 70 per cent. of customers are seen within three days of claiming for discussions about help in finding work.

Local Employment Partnerships are being extended to cover all unemployed customers. And from April, Jobcentre Plus will be introducing extra help for people who have been unemployed for six months or more.

Youth Unemployment

18. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on levels of unemployment among 18 to 24 year olds; and if he will make a statement. [253041]

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Mr. McNulty: Despite recent increases the number of jobseeker's allowance claimants aged 18 to 24 is still 13.3 per cent. lower than in May 1997 and long term youth claimant unemployment has fallen by 73.4 per cent.

Since (February to April) 1997 the number of 18 to 24 ILO unemployed has risen 124,000 to 614,000. The number of 18 to 24-year-olds who have been ILO unemployed for more than six months is 200,000, down 10,000 since 1997.

Jobseeker's Allowance

20. Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what projection he has made of the number of people who will have been claiming jobseeker's allowance for over 12 months by October 2009. [253043]

Mr. McNulty: Of all new jobseeker’s allowance claims, over 50 per cent. leave within three months, and around 75 per cent. by six months, demonstrating the effectiveness of the JSA regime.

Based on the unemployment assumption published at the pre-Budget report, we estimate that in 2009-10 there will be an average of 190,000 claimants of jobseeker’s allowance who will have been claiming for over 12 months. These figures are planning assumptions only, and do not reflect an official view of numbers of unemployed people, or the duration of unemployment. They are based on the HM Treasury unemployment assumption, which is an average of several independent unemployment forecasts. An update to this assumption will be published at the Budget.

24. Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people aged between 18 and 24 years are claiming jobseeker’s allowance in (a) Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency and (b) the UK. [253048]

Mr. McNulty: The number of 18 to 24-year-olds in the UK claiming jobseeker’s allowance in December 2008 was 355,300.

In Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey the number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming jobseeker’s allowance was 315.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answers of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1997W, on jobseeker’s allowance, what research analysis his Department has undertaken on the proportion of time jobseeker’s allowance claimants spent (a) on benefits and (b) not on benefits or in work over a set period of time, including claimants with more than one benefit claim in the last five years. [243218]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 15 December 2008]: The published research available is in the Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No. 394, ‘Repeat Jobseeker’s Allowance Spells by Hannah Carpenter’ (a copy of which has been placed in the Library), which found that 54 per cent. of people who claimed jobseeker’s allowance between July 2003 and June 2004 were repeat claimants. They had spent an average one year out of
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the previous four on jobseeker’s allowance, although the length of spells on benefit varied widely. A quarter of repeat claimants had been on other benefits in the previous four years.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the highest number of repeat claims made for jobseeker’s allowance is; [249363]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of people flowing on to jobseeker's allowance in the last 12 months who have made (a) no, (b) between one and five, (c) between six and 10, (d) between 11 and 20 and (e) over 20 previous claims for jobseeker’s allowance. [249365]

Mr. McNulty: The information is not routinely collected and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have claimed jobseeker’s allowance for (a) five, (b) six, (c) seven, (d) eight, (e) nine and (f) 10 or more years. [249364]

Mr. McNulty: The available information is in the table.

Jobseeker’s allowance claimants at May 2008 by duration


5 years


6 years


7 years


8 years


9 years


10 years or more


Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data.

National Minimum Wage

21. Mr. David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had with Ministers in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the effects of the national minimum wage on levels of unemployment. [253044]

Mr. McNulty: Ministers hold regular meetings to discuss the impacts of departmental policies on the economy.

Carer's Allowance

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's estimate is of the cost to the public purse of introducing a withdrawal rate for carer's allowance of (a) 10 per cent., (b) 20 per cent., (c) 30 per cent., (d) 40 per cent., (e) 50 per cent., (f) 60 per cent., (g) 70 per cent., (h) 80 per cent. and (i) 90 per cent. that would take effect at the current earnings limit in each of the next six years. [249153]

Jonathan Shaw: We do not have estimates available for the costs of introducing these policy changes.

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Child Support

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to improve the performance of the child support system. [253037]

Kitty Ussher: The Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission took over responsibility for the Child Maintenance System on 1 November 2008.

The latest figures show that the Commission collected and arranged a record £1.1 billion maintenance in the 12 months to December 2008, and is on track to further increase the amount of maintenance collected by the end of this year.

The reforms we have already made to the child maintenance system, including the introduction of a full child maintenance disregard in April 2010, will lift around 100,000 children out of poverty. But more is needed to tackle those parents who wilfully refuse to support their children—this is why we have also introduced proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill to give the Commission the power to remove passports and driving licence from those parents who wilfully refuse to take responsibility for their children.

Child Poverty

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the level of child poverty; and what plans he has to reduce it. [253042]

Kitty Ussher: The number of children in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income (before housing costs) in the United Kingdom in 2006-07 (latest information available) is 2.9 million, down 600,000 from 1997 and expected to reduce by a further 500,000 as a result of measures already announced.

On 28 January we launched the consultation, ‘Ending Child Poverty: Making it Happen’, ahead of a child poverty Bill that will enshrine in legislation the Government's promise to eradicate child poverty by 2020. The Bill will provide a framework to guarantee that Government and delivery partners at all levels make a clear contribution towards ending child poverty.

Departmental Data Protection

Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of contractors and suppliers to (a) his Department and (b) its agencies has reported compliance with the Government’s security standards following publication of the report, Data Handling Procedures in Government, and the accompanying document, Cross-departmental Actions: Mandatory Minimum Action, on 25 June 2008. [245331]

Jonathan Shaw: Data security is taken very seriously by the Department and is a key priority for its commercial team who are in regular contact with its suppliers and contractors at both senior managerial and operational levels. The Department has incorporated the new Office of Government Commerce model contract clauses relating to data security into new contracts. All relevant suppliers have been informed of the requirements. 98 per cent. of suppliers have confirmed that they are fully compliant.
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The Department is actively working with the remaining suppliers and has action plans in place to achieve 100 per cent. compliance.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 24W, on departmental data protection, what the names of the (a) Senior Information Risk Owner and (b) Information Asset Owners are. [248750]

Jonathan Shaw: The names of the Department’s (a) Senior Information Risk Owner, and (b) Information Asset Owners, are as follows.

Departmental ICT

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has for his Department to achieve capability maturity model integration level 3 and beyond. [248938]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department has already achieved capability maturity model integration (CMMI) level 2 and plans to achieve level 3 for the new CMMI for Acquisition model in the next year. The new standard, applies to the management of outsourced IT services which conforms more closely to the Department’s approach. Our plans include the development of new processes and standard products at project, management and organisation unit levels, the review of existing processes, and an intensive programme of rollout and training activity.

Once level 3 is achieved the Department will review the business case for moving to higher levels.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the Answer of 17 July 2008, Official Report, column 640W, on departmental personnel, how many staff without posts there are in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies; how many staff without posts were classified as such upon return from maternity leave; and how many of the staff without posts have been classified as such for at least (i) six and (ii) 12 months. [250103]

Jonathan Shaw: As at 31 December 2008 there were 301 members of staff, in the Department for Work and Pensions, who were without a permanent post. The following table shows the number of staff in each business area of the Department. The table also details the numbers of staff who have been without a permanent post for more than six months and of that number those who have been without a permanent post for more than 12 months.

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Agency/business area Staff without a permanent post For at least six months For at least 12 months

Jobcentre Plus




Pensions, Disability and Carer Services




Rest of the Department








The number of these staff who had returned from maternity leave is not held centrally and would be available only at disproportionate cost.

Staff without permanent posts are actively engaged in delivering a range of departmental projects and duties, while seeking a new permanent position. They are given priority for posts in this Department and other Government Departments.

The Child Support Agency, figures for which were included in the response of 17 July 2008, transferred to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission on 1 November 2008. At that time, there were no staff in the agency without permanent posts.

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