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23 Feb 2009 : Column 85W—continued

Poverty: Children

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to reduce levels of child poverty in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency since 1997. [256401]

Kitty Ussher: Since 1998-99, 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty and the number of children in absolute poverty has halved from 3.4 to 1.7 million.

Government measures over the past two years will lift around a further 500,000 children from relative poverty. these include increasing the rate of child benefit and disregarding child benefit in calculating income for housing benefit and council tax benefit from October 2009.

We have also helped nearly 600,000 lone parents into work through the new deal for lone parents programme. As two-fifths of children in poverty live in lone parent families, new deal for lone parents is invaluable in contributing to the target of abolishing child poverty.

A number of pilot schemes will be introduced shortly to trial innovative initiatives to reduce child poverty. The Work-Focused Services in Children's Centres initiative will pilot in Redcar and Cleveland, with other child poverty pilots to be trialled in other local authorities within the north-east region.

Legislation, planned for this session, will ensure all levels of Government play their part in meeting our target to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

Rail Warrants

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent on rail warrants for customers to attend appointments required by the Department in the last year for which figures are available; and how many rail warrants were issued in this period. [245800]

Mr. McNulty: The information is not available.

Rapid Response Service

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what qualifications would make a person over-qualified and therefore not eligible for Government-funded re-training as part of the Rapid Response Service; and if he will make a statement; [254043]

(2) what qualifications are available from Government-funded re-training offered by the Rapid Response Service; and if he will make a statement; [254044]

(3) what guidance is available to Jobcentre Plus district managers to help them decide when a significant redundancy which warrants the use of the Rapid Response Service has taken place; and if he will make a statement. [254046]

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Mr. McNulty [holding answer 3 February 2009]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the take-up of the Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response services by employers contemplating redundancies. [254429]

Mr. McNulty: Jobcentre Plus offer support to employers when they receive formal notification of 20, or more, potential redundancies from Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform or when they are made aware through other means. Since the announcement of the expansion of the Rapid Response Service in November 2008, over 650 employers have accepted the offer of support.

The Rapid Response Service is a voluntary service. Employers are free to take it up or make their own arrangements to help their redundant staff.

Rented Housing: Essex

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much and what proportion of private rented accommodation in (a) Southend-on-Sea local authority area, (b) Essex county council area and (c) Southend West constituency is available for rent at or below the median rent established by the Rent Service for the relevant rental market area; and if he will make a statement. [255103]

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Kitty Ussher: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave on 16 July 2008, Official Report, column 469W.

Social Security Benefits

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to enable Jobcentre Plus customers to receive emergency assistance in addition to provision available under the Social Fund. [253451]

Kitty Ussher: In terms of emergency assistance, the social fund provides financial support to vulnerable people in times of genuine need through crisis loans. This type of assistance has first call on the social fund loans budget and all crisis loan applicants who satisfy the eligibility conditions are given an award. Gross expenditure on crisis loans in Great Britain has increased by 31 per cent. between January and December 2007 and January to December 2008.

From January to December 2008, around 45 per cent. of crisis loan awards in Great Britain were made to people representing hardship before their first benefit payment. The current legal provisions do not specify that an advance payment of benefit can be made in such circumstances. The current Welfare Reform Bill contains powers that will address this point, allowing the consideration of advance payments for this group of people. This will reduce the need for such crisis loans.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will reduce the rate of national interest on savings taken into account when assessing a person's entitlement to means-tested benefits. [258045]

Mr. McNulty: The first £6,000 of capital/savings (£10,000 for those in care homes) is fully disregarded in the income related benefits:

The formula for calculating the amount of income that can be generated from capital/savings above £6,000 in the income related benefits, known as tariff income, is not intended to represent any rate of return that could be obtained from investing capital. It provides a simple method of calculating the weekly contribution that people with capital in excess of the level of the disregard are expected to make from their resources to help meet their normal living costs.

As there is no link with actual market rates, the tariff income rates within the income-related benefits remain unaltered regardless of whether interest rates rise or fall.

The tariff income levels are kept under continual review but they can be increased only when priorities and resources allow.

Social Security Benefits: Control Orders

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 275W, on control orders,
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(1) how many individuals subject to control orders are in receipt of benefits administered by his Department; [248842]

(2) how much his Department has spent on (a) incapacity benefit, (b) jobseeker’s allowance, (c) disability living allowance and (d) income support in order to assist individuals who are subject to control orders in each year since 2005. [248845]

Mr. McNulty: The Home Secretary’s last quarterly written ministerial statement on control orders, covering the period 11 September to 10 December 2008, was published on 15 December 2008. The figures provided in this report are the latest published figures on control orders. These show that on 10 December 2008 there were nine individuals whom the Home Office cited as being subject to a control order who were in receipt of Department for Work and Pensions administered benefits. Seven individuals were in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance only; one was in receipt of incapacity benefit and income support; and one was in receipt of incapacity benefit, income support and disability living allowance.

The requested information on expenditure is not available other than at disproportionate cost.

Social Security Benefits: Dual Nationality

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account his Department took of the situation of UK citizens with dual nationality when it decided to require a passport as proof of identity for the purpose of access to services it provides. [256654]

Mr. McNulty: The Department for Work and Pensions follows a robust process to verify an individual’s identity prior to providing access to benefits.

The Department accepts passports, including those passports held by citizens with dual nationalities, as well as birth certificates and a range of other supporting identity documentary evidence when assuring a person’s identity.

Social Security Benefits: Inverness Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of each type of benefit there were in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency in each of the last 60 months. [251475]

Mr. McNulty: Constituency information is not available prior to 2005. The available information is in the following table.

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Working age and pensioner client groups, by statistical group in the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency, as at May each year

2005 2006 2007 2008











Incapacity benefits





Lone parent










Other income related benefits















State pension only





1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. Figures for attendance allowance, carers allowance, and disability living allowance include those cases with entitlement but where payment is currently suspended (for example because of an extended stay in hospital or being in receipt of an overlapping benefit).
4. Statistical group is a hierarchical variable. A person who fits into more than one category will only appear in the top-most one for which they are eligible:
Jobseeker: claimant on jobseekers allowance;
Incapacity benefits: claimant on incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance;
Lone parent: claimant on income support with child under 16 and no partner;
Carer: claimant entitled to carer's allowance;
Other income related benefit: claimant on income support or pension credit; disabled: claimant on attendance allowance or disability living allowance, anyone of working age in this group will be claiming DLA only, and is likely to be in work;
Bereaved: claimant on bereavement benefit or widow's benefit;
State pension only: claimant in receipt of state pension only.
For example a claimant of disability living allowance and jobseekers allowance would appear in “job seeker”, not in “disabled”.
5. Jobseeker's allowance data have been revised following improvements to the methodology for compiling Department for Work and Pensions jobseeker's allowance statistics. To ensure consistency overtime the improved methodology was applied to historical data. The preferred source of data for jobseeker's allowance claimants is the Office for National Statistics' claimant count. However, in this case, the Department for Work and Pensions Work and Pensions Longitudinal Survey has been used for consistency with the other benefit statistics.
DWP Information Directorate

Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which medical examination centres in London are contracted by his Department to carry out medical assessments in relation to claims for benefits; which such centres have parking spaces for disabled people; and what requirements his Department makes in respect of the accessibility of such centres to people with disabilities. [255459]

Jonathan Shaw: There are seven medical examination centres in the London area. These are Balham, Highgate, Croydon, Marylebone, Romford, Ealing and Wimbledon. None of these buildings have any car parking facilities. Under the terms of the Medical Services Contract, Atos Healthcare is required to comply with all appropriate legislation in delivering medical services which includes the Disability Discrimination Act. Where a customer’s disability would give rise to difficulties in accessing an examination centre, Medical Services are required to make alternative arrangements for the examination to take place.

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