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17 Mar 2009 : Column 1034W—continued

(3) An asylum seeker for whom support is provided under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;

(4) A person who lives permanently in a care home whose fees are paid in whole or part by a local authority;

(5) A young person supported by a local authority as he/she has just left care; and

(6) Anyone not in any of the above groups may make a National Health Service Low Income scheme claim for their entitlement to free prescriptions to be calculated by the National Health Service Business Services Authority.

Prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) for three months or 12 months are available for anyone who is not otherwise entitled to free prescriptions. PPCs offer savings to anyone who needs four or more prescription items in three months or 14 or more items in 12 months. 12-month PPCs may be paid for by 10 direct debit instalments.

We recognise we need a fairer system of prescription charging. That is why the Prime Minister announced in September last year that exemption from prescription charges would be extended to cancer patients and to patients with other long-term conditions. In this way, we will alleviate the financial burden for those suffering from ill health.

Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with (a) Welsh Assembly Government Ministers, (b) Scottish Executive Ministers and (c) Northern Ireland Executive Ministers on levels of prescription charges. [263674]

Ann Keen: We have had no such discussions. Prescription charging is a devolved matter and decisions in this area are for each devolved Administration to determine.

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Work and Pensions

Bail Accommodation and Support Service

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether a defendant required to reside in bail accommodation and support service (BASS) accommodation as a condition of bail is eligible for (a) housing and (b) council tax benefit in relation to their (i) usual place of residence and (ii) BASS accommodation. [262345]

Kitty Ussher: Defendants who are released on bail to BASS accommodation are entitled to housing benefit and council tax benefit for that accommodation because it is their usual place of residence. If a defendant has a place of residence other than their BASS accommodation he/she would not normally be entitled to housing benefit for that former home as well. There are no provisions to pay council tax benefit for two homes because generally a person does not have liability for two homes if only one is being occupied.

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission: Finance

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what funding has been allocated to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in each year between 2008-09 and 2011-12; [250532]

(2) what funding has been allocated (a) by his Department and (b) the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission for operating the Child Maintenance Options service for each year from 2008-09 to 2011-12. [250533]

Kitty Ussher [holding answer 22 January 2009]: The funding the Department has allocated to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is published in the Commission’s Business Plan. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

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Christmas Bonus: Advertising

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much his Department and its agencies have spent on informing the public of the extra one-off payment of £60 to Christmas bonus recipients; and in which publications and broadcasting outlets such advertisements have been placed; [253659]

(2) how much his Department and its agencies spent on placing the advertisement which appeared in the Sunday Times on 11 January 2009 relating to the one-off payment of £60 to Christmas bonus recipients; what other publications this advertisement was placed in; at what cost; and whether he approved the text in the advertisement. [253660]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The advertising was booked and bought together to provide coverage across key media titles. The total media cost for the week's advertising was £75,110.92.

The advert was placed in the following 19 daily and weekly titles:

The advertising was undertaken to make pensioners, and their family and friends, aware of the additional Christmas bonus payment they will receive, announced in the Pre Budget Report on 24 November 2008.

The advertising explained that the payment would be made separately from the usual Christmas bonus and could be received at any time between January and March. It aimed to ensure that pensioners understood what the payment was and when they would receive it; and thus also to limit calls to the Department's contact centres.

The additional Christmas Bonus payment was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 2008 Pre-Budget Report as one means of providing short-term support to help vulnerable groups through
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the economic downturn. The words 'real help now' appear on all public facing communications designed to promote support for the public and business during the economic downturn.

Given that some 15 million individuals will receive this additional payment advertising was deemed the most cost-effective way of communicating information to this group of our customers. The alternative way of reaching this group directly was through direct mail which would have been less efficient in this instance (estimated mailing costs to reach a group of this size are approximately £3.3 million).

The advertising copy was approved by senior officials in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service. Ministers were informed of the planned activity.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many consolatory payments have been made by his Department with regard to the operation of his Department's (a) debt management organisations and (b) Recovery from Estates Debt Management Unit in each year since 1997 for which information is available. [249374]

Kitty Ussher: Information is available from April 2007 to date. We are not able to separate the data between payments made for debt management and recovery from estates. Information prior to this period is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost

The available information is in the following table:






(1) To January 2009

Departmental Telephone Services

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2009, Official Report, column 1613W, on departmental telephone services, how much revenue was generated by the 0845 numbers used by (a) his Department and (b) its executive agencies for public access services in each of the last three years. [262884]

Jonathan Shaw: DWP and its executive agencies do not receive any revenue from incoming phone calls to 0845 numbers used for public access services.

Financial Services: Elderly

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how his Department plans to increase access for older people to information on financial matters; [255761]

(2) what steps he is taking to improve his Department's financial advice for older people; [255771]

(3) if his Department will provide support for voluntary sector initiatives which promote financial education amongst older people; [255763]

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(4) what assessment he has made of whether improving financial literacy amongst older people would contribute to tackling poverty and promoting well-being under Public Service Agreement 17. [255762]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department provides directly, or supports the provision of, information on financial matters through a range of initiatives. All of these benefit older people, and some are designed specifically for them. All of this activity contributes to the goal, encapsulated in PSA 17, to tackle poverty and promote greater independence and well-being in later life, although no quantitative assessment of the impact of financial literacy on these outcomes has been made.

First, through the ‘Now Let's Talk Money campaign’, the Department has engaged with many partner organisations and forged links with over 4,000 intermediary organisations. One contract was awarded to encourage advice agencies and credit unions to target older people, whilst also encouraging older people to take up the advice which is available.

The Department is also working closely with HM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority on the Money Guidance pathfinder that will launch later this spring in the north-west and north-east of England and will provide impartial financial guidance to up to 750,000 people in these regions. The guidance will be delivered by telephone, face to face, and on the internet. Face to face provision will be delivered by a range of partners, including third sector organisations.

The pathfinder will be supported by The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS), an independent body that provides information and guidance across the full range of pensions issues. TPAS is funded by the Department. Its running costs are then recovered from the general levy on pensions schemes.

Further information on pensions, and saving for later life will be provided through the comprehensive communication strategy that the Department is developing to support the introduction of pension reforms that will extend the opportunity of workplace pension saving to millions, many for the first time. This effort will draw on lessons learned from the Pensions Education Fund—a three-year UK-wide initiative using third sector organisations to test approaches, in a workplace setting, to provide information on saving for retirement. It involved a series of 26 pilot projects, 10 of which include older people aged 50 years or more in their target group.

The Pension, Disability and Carers' Service provides older people with essential information on their entitlement to pensions and related benefits in later life. Its Local Service visits approximately 13,000 older customers each week, providing a holistic financial assessment and benefit service targeted at vulnerable older people. It delivers direct access and assistance to customers so that they receive benefits and services, promoting their independence and security. Information and guidance is also available through the Pension, Disability and Carers' Service contact centres and websites, on Directgov, and in leaflet form. Services on offer include the forecasting of state pension entitlement, based on an individual's contributions record, and the tracing of lost private pensions.

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Funeral Payments

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many funeral payments were made in each year since 1997; what the average payment was in each year; and how much has been recovered from estates towards the repayment of such grants. [263568]

Kitty Ussher: The information requested is given in the following table.

Funeral p ayments for Great Britain

Number of awards ( t housand) Average award (£) Recoveries (£ million)













































Recoveries in each year represent the total recovered from estates in that year, not the total recovered from awards made in that year.
Annual reports by the Secretary of State for social security/work and pensions on the social fund (with greater accuracy for recoveries than in the annual reports for the first three years obtained from the DWP social fund policy, budget and management information system).

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