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11 Mar 2009 : Column 542W—continued


11 Mar 2009 : Column 543W

The number of customers who received an Individual Pension Forecast from the e-service Real Time Pension Forecasting system is in the following table. All forecasts are produced in real time.

Month Number of forecasts issued

2008

February

5,318

March

5,883

April

6,350

May

4,395

June

2,957

July

26,353

August

25,453

September

27,759

October

31,061

November

35,490

December

23,731

2009

January

35,264

Total

230,014


PDCS also provided state pension information to pension providers to enable 1,093,986 Combined Pension forecasts to be produced in the period September 2008 to January 2009.

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when his Department resumed sending out pension forecasts in response to requests from people who reach pension age after 6 April 2010; how many (a) requests have been received and (b) forecasts have been sent since the resumption; and if he will make a statement. [259083]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department offers three channels for pensions forecasts: e-service, telephone, and post.

The real-time e-service resumed on 30 June 2008. This system does not provide information on the age of the customers who have requested a forecast, and therefore the Department is unable to tell how many of the users of the service reach pension age on or after 6 April 2010.

For customers who reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2010, the Pension Forecast service resumed on 26 August 2008 for requests made by telephone or post to the Pension Forecasting IT service. 202,761 customers received a state pension forecast between 26 August 2008 and close of business on 24 February 2009.

Repossession Orders

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to amend the rules governing eligibility for assistance with mortgage interest payment to include circumstances where the redundancy of one family member exposes the family to the risk of mortgage payment default and repossession; and if he will make a statement. [262551]

Kitty Ussher: Support for mortgage interest is available to those homeowners who qualify for one of the income-related benefits, income support, income-based jobseeker’s
11 Mar 2009 : Column 544W
allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or pension credit. It is an integral component of those benefits. Couples are treated as a single unit in these benefits and if one member of a couple is in remunerative work of 24-hours or more, or has income which exceeds their entitlement, then they cannot receive the benefit. Only those couples who are not in remunerative work and who meet the other qualifying conditions of the benefit can receive support for mortgage interest. This is intended to ensure that resources are directed to where they are most needed and there are no plans to change this policy.

Support for mortgage interest is not the only form of help for homeowners in difficulty paying their mortgages. For example, the Government's Mortgage Rescue scheme provides £200 million to support up to 6,000 of the most vulnerable homeowners facing repossession to remain in their home. The Homeowner Mortgage Support scheme, which we expect to be open for business with the first lenders in April, will help ensure hard working people, including couples, who suffer a temporary loss of income can stay in their home. Both schemes are being led by Communities and Local Government.

Social Fund

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the budget of the Social Fund for crisis loans was in each of the last 12 years. [260863]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 5 March 2009]: There is no separate budget for crisis loans, but rather a combined loans budget for both crisis loans and budgeting loans. The following table gives the final gross loans budget and crisis loan gross expenditure for each of the last 12 years.

Social fund loans in Great Britain
£ million

Final gross loans budget Crisis loan gross expenditure

1997-98

397.5

54.3

1998-99

404.9

58.9

1999-2000

457.9

61.5

2000-01

524.6

65.3

2001-02

547.7

74.9

2002-03

548.9

84.6

2003-04

578.0

85.1

2004-05

585.0

81.9

2005-06

609.0

86.4

2006-07

700.0

97.9

2007-08

642.0

121.2

2008-09

624.0

(1)132.6

(1) To 31 January.
Source:
Annual reports by the Secretary of State for Social Security/Work and Pensions on the Social Fund (with greater accuracy for Crisis Loan expenditure than in the annual reports for the first three years obtained from the DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System).

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of crisis loan applications resulted in an award being made in each of the last 12 years. [260864]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 5 March 2009]: The available information is given in the table.


11 Mar 2009 : Column 545W
Crisis loan applications for Great Britain

Percentage of applications resulting in an initial award

1997-98

75.9

1998-99

76.2

1999-2000

72.5

2000-01

72.0

2001-02

74.6

2002-03

76.3

2003-04

75.9

2004-05

75.1

2005-06

74.5

2006-07

74.4

2007-08

68.5

April 2008 to January 2009

67.8

Notes:
1. Figures do not include awards made after review.
2. Percentages are based on applications processed in each year, not on applications received in each year.
Source:
Annual reports by the Secretary of State for Social Security/Work and Pensions on the Social Fund (with greater accuracy than in the annual reports for the first three years obtained from the DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System or departmental records).

Social Fund: Bexley

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Social Fund applications by residents in the London Borough of Bexley were (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful in each of the last five years; and how much was paid to such residents from the fund in each of those years. [261424]

Kitty Ussher: The information requested is not available. Social Fund data are not held by London borough, but by Jobcentre Plus Social Fund budget area (or, before such budget areas were used for the administration of the Social Fund, by Jobcentre Plus district, and, prior to that, by Social Fund district). Since May 2002, there have been several changes to the boundaries of administrative areas. As a result, data which can be compared across time are available for all Jobcentre Plus Social Fund budget areas from September 2006 only.

Social Security Benefits: Lone Parents

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his Department's target is for the number of visits to be made by compliance officers to lone parents who have been sanctioned for failing to attend a work-focused interview; and if he will make a statement; [255264]

(2) how many and what proportion of lone parents under benefits sanctions for failing to attend a work-focused interview have been visited by a compliance officer in each month since such interviews became compulsory; and if he will make a statement [255265]

(3) if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's standard letter issued to lone parents claiming income support after they have failed to attend a work-focused interview and failed to show good cause. [255267]

Kitty Ussher: 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.


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Widowed Parents Allowance

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have made a late claim for (a) widowed parents allowance and (b) bereavement allowance in each of the last five years; how many people claiming bereavement allowance have been refused on the grounds that the claim was submitted after more than 12 months from the death of their partner in the last five years; and what estimate he has made of the proportion of those eligible for bereavement benefits to have claimed them in the last five years. [259765]

Kitty Ussher: The information is not available.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Departmental Art Works

Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which works of art from the Government Art Collection each Minister in his Department has selected for display in a private office. [259432]

Mr. Simon: The following works of art from the Government Art Collection are displayed in Lord Drayson's private office:

The following works of art from the Government Art Collection are displayed in Siôn Simon's private office:

Other Ministers in this Department do not have works of art from the Government Art Collection displayed in their private offices.

Departmental Visits Abroad

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much expenditure was incurred in respect of overseas visits which (a) he, (b) other Ministers in his Department and (c) his Department's senior officials undertook in 2008. [262178]

Mr. Simon: Since 1999, the Government have published a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the financial year 2007-08 was published on 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 102WS, and for the first time included details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. All travel by Ministers is undertaken in accordance with the ‘Ministerial Code’. Information going beyond what is already published can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Foreign Students: USA

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what support his Department (a) offers and (b) plans to offer to help cover the travel costs of British students who take a term of study in the United States. [262708]


11 Mar 2009 : Column 547W

Mr. Lammy: English-domiciled students studying in the UK who wish to take up a term of study of their course in the United States may be eligible to receive a grant to help cover the related travel costs. To qualify for the grant the student must be attending the overseas university or college for at least half the length of an academic quarter, which normally corresponds to a term. The grant meets the costs of:

The grant is subject to an income assessment and the first £295 of travel costs incurred is not covered by the grant.

DIUS has responsibility for higher education in England only. The devolved administrations have responsibility for it in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


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