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11 Mar 2009 : Column 534W—continued


Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the 2009-10 personal allowance for council tax benefit is for (a) single people aged under 25 and lone parents aged under 18, (b) single people aged 25 to 59 and lone parents aged 18 to 59, (c) single people aged 60 or over, (d) couples where both partners are aged under 18, (e) couples where the older partner is aged 18 to 59 and (f) couples where the older partner is aged 60 or over. [261951]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 9 March 2009]: The information is in the table.


11 Mar 2009 : Column 535W
Council tax benefit personal allowance rates for 2009-10

£

Single people aged under 25

50.95

Lone parent aged under 18

0

Single people aged 25-59 (or any age entitled to main phase ESA)

64.30

Lone parents aged 18-59

64.30

Single person/lone parent aged 60-64

130.00

Single person/lone parent aged 65 or over

150.40

Couples, both partners aged under 18

0

Couples where older partner is aged 18-59

100.95

Couples where one or both are aged 60 or over, but both are aged under 65

198.45

Couples where one or both are aged 65 or over

225.50

Notes:
1. Nil rate quoted as a person must be aged 18 or over in order to be liable for council tax.
2. Rates quoted above do not include any additional allowances which might be applicable, for example in respect of children.
Source:
Following the uprating statement to Parliament made by right hon. Tony McNulty MP on 11 December 2008, DWP issued a press release giving details of the benefit uprating:
www.dwp.gov.uk/mediacentre/pressreleases/2008/dec/NewBenefitRates.pdf
Local authorities were informed of the new rates in HB/CTB Circular A27/2008, a copy of which is at:
www.dwp.gov.uk/housingbenefit/user-communications/circulars/2008/a27-2008.pdf

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the minimum level of (a) weekly and (b) annual household income is at which a household is no longer eligible for (i) full and (ii) partial full council tax benefit for (A) a single pensioner, (B) a pensioner couple, (C) a working-age single person, (D) a working-age couple, (E) a lone parent with one child and (F) two parents with one child. [262020]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 9 March 2009]: The level of income at which income extinguishes entitlement to council tax benefit (CTB) will depend upon the liability for council tax as well as the individuals’ personal circumstances. For this reason, it is not possible to provide income figures in the way envisaged in the question.

People receiving the guarantee credit element of pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment support allowance are deemed to have no income or capital and they receive maximum CTB (subject to any standard deductions for any non-dependant household member).

People not receiving the income-related benefits listed above will have their CTB assessed on the basis of an “applicable amount”. The amount is made up of personal allowances and premiums. The personal allowances vary according to age and whether a person is single or one of a married or unmarried couple. The premiums are awarded to those groups identified as having extra needs, for example, long term sick or disabled people and elderly people.

If net income is equal to or is less than the applicable amount, the customer will receive an amount equal to 100 per cent. of their council tax liability less any non-dependant deductions. If net income is more than the applicable amount, the customer will get less CTB. For each pound of extra income over the applicable amount, an adjustment of 20 pence will be made (this is the CTB taper).


11 Mar 2009 : Column 536W

In addition, anyone with savings, investments and other capital valued at more than £16,000 will not normally qualify for CTB. Capital of £6,000 or less is ignored. Capital of between £6,000 and £16,000 will be deemed to provide a weekly income of £1 for every £250 (or part thereof) if the person is aged less than 60, or £1 for every £500 (or part thereof) if they are 60 or over.

The following tables set out the applicable amounts, and hence the level at which customers begin to start paying some council tax for the client groups listed in the question.

Pensioners Starts to pay some council tax when net income exceeds (£)

Single person aged 60-64

124.05

Single person aged 65 or over

143.80

Couple, one or both aged 60 or over, but both aged under 65

189.35

Couple, one or both aged 65 or over

215.50


Working age Starts to pay some council tax when net income exceeds (£)

Single person aged under 25

47.95

Single person aged over 25

60.50

Couple

94.95

Single parent with one dependent child aged under one

140.34

Single parent with one dependent child aged one or over

129.84

Couple with one dependent child aged under one

174.79

Couple with one dependent child aged one or over

164.29

Notes:
1. All examples assume no disabilities/no childcare costs/no non-dependants.
2. Rates are for current year (2008-09).

Departmental Aviation

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many journeys (a) he and his predecessors and (b) his officials made by aeroplane in the course of their duties in each of the last five years. [246672]

Jonathan Shaw: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate costs. Travel by Ministers and civil servants are undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code respectively.

Departmental Surveys

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent by his Department on staff surveys in each of the last five years; and which companies were contracted to carry out the surveys. [260873]

Jonathan Shaw: The costs for DWP surveys in the last five years are as follows:

£

2004-05

(1)110,000

2005-06

(1)99,595

2006-07

(2)47,041

2007-08

(1)114,535

2008-09

(1)115,245

(1) Full census.
(2) 20 per cent. sample.

11 Mar 2009 : Column 537W

The survey supplier for all these surveys was ORC International.

Departmental Training

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department has provided voice coaching to any of its employees in the last 12 months. [260635]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department does provide training on voice coaching to our contact centre staff, which includes a one-hour module on voice training and acoustic shock (the shock caused by sudden/loud noises on the telephone) and training on techniques in speaking clearly, explaining well and the importance of voice care. In addition to this, line managers provide coaching on the use of language and vocal tone as part of their normal call monitoring processes.

Incapacity Benefit: North East

Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Blyth Valley constituency and (b) the North East over the age of 60 years are in receipt of incapacity benefit. [258934]

Jonathan Shaw: The available information is in the following table.

Number of people claiming incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance aged 60 and over in Blyth Valley parliamentary constituency, north east and north west government office regions—August 2008

Claimants over 60

Blyth Valley

700

North East

23,340

North West

53,610

Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Data available on:
www.nomisweb.co.uk
Source:
The Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate 100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

Jobcentre Plus

Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many local drug jobcentre co-ordinators his Department plans to employ; and what percentage of Jobcentre Plus offices will have a dedicated local drug jobcentre co-ordinator by October 2009; [260858]

(2) at what Civil Service payband local drug jobcentre co-ordinators will be employed; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the job specification for this role. [260859]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 5 March 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 my hon. Friend with the information requested.


11 Mar 2009 : Column 538W

Letter from Mel Groves:

Jobcentre Plus: Telephone Services

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff are employed to answer calls to Jobcentre Plus helplines; and if he will make a statement. [245449]

Mr. McNulty: 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:


11 Mar 2009 : Column 539W

Mortgages: Government Assistance

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households his Department estimates will obtain Government support for unemployed homeowners to pay interest charges on their mortgages. [261648]

Kitty Ussher: We are currently revising our projections for jobseeker’s allowance, and within this the number of claimant unemployed who are receiving support for mortgage interest, and updated projections will be published following the Budget.

In November 2008, 5,000 jobseeker’s allowance claimants received support for mortgage interest, but we would expect this figure to rise in response to increasing unemployment and recent policy changes making support for mortgage interest available from three months into the claim.

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of recent changes to the support for mortgage interest element of benefits; and how many households he estimates will benefit from the extension of this element of benefits to homeowners who have been unemployed for 13 weeks or more. [261651]

Kitty Ussher: At this time we do not have data to provide actual figures on the number of people who are being helped under the new support for mortgage interest rules.

It should be noted that since these changes were brought in on the 5 January, the impact on new claims would not show up until the end of the 13 week waiting period in early April 2009; although the extension of the reforms to cover those who have already served a waiting period over 13 weeks, and the six-month freeze of the standard interest rate, will mean that customers have started benefiting already.

We are currently revising our caseload and expenditure projections for jobseeker’s allowance, and within this the number of claimant unemployed who are receiving support for mortgage interest. Updated projections will be published following the Budget.

In November 2008, 5,000 jobseeker’s allowance claimants received support for mortgage interest, but we would expect this figure to rise in response to increasing unemployment and recent policy changes making support for mortgage interest available from three months into the claim.


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