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Departmental Public Consultation

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many citizens' juries or summits have been hosted by her Department since October 2008; on what date each event took place; and which Ministers were present at each event. [310751]

Jim Knight: There is no central record of any citizen juries having been hosted by the Department for Work and Pensions since October 2008. However, a wide range of citizen engagement activities are regularly conducted across the Department. These are designed to ensure that citizens' needs are placed at the forefront of improving service delivery and in policy development.

The following large conferences, aimed at 100 or more delegates, have been organised by the Department for Work and Pensions and addressed by its Ministers since October 2008:

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Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many awards of disability living allowance were made to people whose main disabling condition was cancer in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the average waiting time was for such an award to be made in that period. [316776]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 10 February 2010]: The following table provides information on cases in payment where the main disabling condition is recorded as malignant disease and which includes cancer, carcinoma and leukaemia.

We do not record the average waiting time for a disability living allowance award where the main disabling condition was cancer.

Disability cases in payment where the main disabling condition is recorded as malignant disease, May 2009




1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100 and have been uprated to be consistent with Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study data.
2. Figures show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.
3. Where more than one disability is present only the main disabling condition is recorded.
4. A diagnosed medical condition does not mean that someone is automatically entitled to disability living allowance. Entitlement is dependent on an assessment of how much help someone needs with personal care and/or mobility because of their disability. These statistics are only collected for administrative purposes.
Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample.


Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what forecasts of employment levels have been (a) made and (b) used by her Department since 2007. [317633]

Jim Knight: The Department for Work and Pensions does not produce a forecast of employment levels of its own.

The Department draws on a number of elements of the Budget and pre-Budget report economic forecasts for planning purposes. These forecasts are detailed, along with a discussion of the current state of the economy,
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in the Budget and pre-Budget report. The latest forecast was set out in Annex A of the 2009 pre-Budget report (Cm 7747), published on 9 December 2009.

A copy of the pre-Budget report (Cm 7747) is available in the Library.

Employment Schemes: Young People

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what programmes her Department has to assist young people into employment in Rochdale and the North-West; and if she will make a statement. [320199]

Jim Knight: The Government have implemented a substantial package of national measures to address youth unemployment, which are helping young people in the North-West region and Rochdale as well as elsewhere. Young people aged 16 to 24 can access apprenticeships, internships, mentoring and work experience through Backing Young Britain. Jobseekers aged 18 to 24 who have been unemployed for six months are guaranteed the offer of a job, training or work experience through the Young Person's Guarantee via provision that includes the Future Jobs Fund, Routes into Work, Work Focused Training, and the Community Task Force, as well as internships and access to help with self employment. From April taking up one of these options will become mandatory.

We have so far agreed to fund 17,078 jobs under the Future Jobs Fund in the North-West.

Equality 2025

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 9 February 2010, Official Report, column 863W, on the Review of Equality 2025, on what date (a) the report was completed and (b) Ministers of her Department received the report; how many officials of her Department are responsible for considering and implementing the report's recommendations; and if she will make a statement. [318792]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 25 February 2010]: The initial recommendations from the review were submitted to the Minister for Disabled People for approval in September 2009 and were accepted by him. Following the written ministerial statement to Parliament on 10 December 2009, Official Report, columns 40-42WS, the recommendations were published on the website of the Office for Disability Issues. The report was finalised on 23 February 2010, following detailed work to ensure compliance with data protection requirements, and sent to the Minister for Disabled People.

The Secretary to Equality 2025 has been involved in supporting Equality 2025 with implementing these recommendations, with input, as appropriate, from the Director and Deputy Director of the Office for Disability Issues. Work on implementing the recommendations is ongoing and will be completed by late June 2010.

Health Services: Isle of Man

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons her Department has not replied to the letter from the Government of the Isle of Man sent in 2009, requesting advice on the
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Isle of Man's desire to negotiate a bilateral health agreement with the Scottish Executive; and if she will make a statement. [320268]

Helen Goodman: My Department has no record of receiving any such letter from the Government of the Isle of Man in 2009 concerning its negotiation of a bilateral health agreement with the Scottish Executive. If my hon. Friend would care to supply further details of the letter, I will look into the matter urgently.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of sanctions that have been imposed on existing claimants of incapacity benefit; and what the most common reasons are for the imposition of sanctions on claimants. [319021]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 26 February 2010]: The purpose of sanctions is to encourage compliance with the requirement to take part in work-focused interviews. The only reason for imposing sanctions on claimants is if they fail to take part in a work-focused interview, without good cause.

From the assessments which the Department has made of the effectiveness of the sanctions regime, as part of the extension to existing customers in Jobcentre Plus-led Pathways districts over 2005-06, it is clear the use of sanctions had a positive impact on attendance at work-focused interviews. However, customer views on the appropriateness of the use of sanctions were mixed.

The Department has published two research reports on the experiences of existing customers and these include a discussion regarding sanctions:

Copies of both reports have been placed in the Library.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of incapacity benefit were sanctioned in each of the last 10 years; and what the monetary value was of sanctions imposed in each of those years. [319022]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 26 February 2010]: The Department does not publish data on the number of people who have been sanctioned who claim incapacity benefit; such data could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The same is true for those customers in receipt of employment and support allowance and income support.

New Deal Schemes

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what forecast the Government made of the number of expected referrals to flexible new deal phase 1 providers in each region in each of the first six months of its operation; [317038]

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(2) how many customers have been referred to flexible new deal phase 1 providers in each region in each month to the end of January 2010. [317047]

Jim Knight [holding answer 22 February 2010]: The information is not available in the format requested. Delivery of the flexible new deal (FND) started from 5 October 2009 in phase 1 areas.

The Department is working to guidelines set by the UK Statistics Authority to ensure that we are able to publish statistics that meet the high quality standards at the earliest opportunity. Further information on the timing and scope of the release of FND statistics will be made available through the Department's website.

Pensioners: Poverty

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what additional assistance her Department provided to pensioners during the recent recession. [319026]

Angela Eagle: The Government provided a range of additional support to pensioners through the recent economic downturn and continues to provide support during the early stages of economic recovery.

In his pre-Budget report statement on 24 November 2008 the Chancellor announced the intention to give every pensioner a one-off payment of £60 on top of the regular £10 Christmas bonus received in December 2008. This was paid as a one-off increase to the Christmas bonus for 2008 only and was paid to all qualifying recipients of the Christmas bonus.

The payment provided additional direct financial support to help vulnerable groups through the economic downturn. In total the additional £60 payments cost around £900 million.

The Government made an additional payment alongside the winter fuel payment for winters 2008-09 and 2009-10 of £50 for households with someone aged 60-79 and £100 for those with someone aged 80 or over. This means the winter fuel payments have been £250 and £400 respectively which provides a significant contribution towards an older person's winter fuel bill. Cold weather payments for the winter of 2008-09 and 2009-10 have also been increased from £8.50 to £25.00 providing additional support to the most vulnerable. With the exception of those living in certain accommodation such as care homes, all pensioners on pension credit will qualify for a cold weather payment when the average temperature has been recorded as, or is forecast to be 0° C or below over seven consecutive days at the weather station linked to the eligible customer's postcode.

In April 2010, the Government have committed to increase the basic state pension by 2.5 per cent. This commitment, first given in 2001, was confirmed in the Chancellor's 2009 pre-Budget report, despite the negative growth for the September 2009 retail prices index, providing a real-terms boost to basic state pension. This means that in 2010-11, pensioners will have seen a long-term real increase of 12 per cent. in their basic state pension, which is over £10 per week, since 1997.

The Chancellor has also confirmed that from April 2010 the poorest pensioners will also benefit from an above indexation increase in the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit, an increase of £2.60 a week
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for single people and £3.95 for couples. This means that, from April 2010, no single pensioner need live on less than £132.60 a week and no couple on less than £202.40. That is a real terms increase of more than a third for the poorest pensioners since 1997. The 2 per cent. increase ensures that the vast majority of the poorest pensioners will be able to see the full benefit of the 2.5 per cent. increase in the basic state pension.

In order to help those pensioners who receive income from savings and who may have been affected by lower interest rates, the Government have increased the threshold in pension credit (and housing and council tax benefit for those who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) from £6,000 to £10,000 from November 2009, so that pensioners can have up to £10,000 without it affecting their benefits.

This change will benefit around 500,000 pensioners and will mean around 88 per cent. of pension credit recipients will have all of their capital ignored in their pension credit assessment.

The Government also increased ISA limits up to £10,200 for people aged 50 and over from 6 October 2009.

Since November 2008, the Government have maintained the standard interest rate used to calculate support for mortgage interest at 6.08 per cent. to provide support for homeowners on pension credit who receive help with their mortgage. In his pre-Budget report on 9 December 2009, the Chancellor announced that the rate of 6.08 per cent. would be maintained for a further six months, to provide continued support to these customers.

The Government also launched a tax-back awareness campaign in autumn 2009 contacting all those in receipt of pension credit to encourage them to claim back tax they may have overpaid on their savings income and, where possible, register to receive interest on their savings tax-free in future.

Social Security Benefits

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the monetary value of unclaimed benefits of each type in (a) the Highlands, (b) Scotland and (c) England and Wales in each of the last three years. [320124]

Helen Goodman: Estimates of unclaimed benefits are available for Great Britain only; they are not available for the geographical areas requested.

The latest estimates of unclaimed benefit amounts for Great Britain are published in the report "Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2007-08" a copy of which is available in the Library.

Social Security Benefits: Fibromyalgia

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of applicants for disability living allowance diagnosed with fibromyalgia have had their application approved. [318395]

Jonathan Shaw: The information is not available, as data on diagnosis for disallowed claims are not collected. This means that it is not possible to determine what percentage of applicants who listed Fibromyalgia on their claim form were allowed or disallowed.

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The amount of disability living allowance someone receives, depends on how much help they need with personal care and/or mobility. It is not dependent on whether they have a specific diagnosis or medical condition. For example, a customer would not be awarded disability living allowance on the basis of a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. The decision would be based upon their care/supervision needs and on the help they need to get around as a result of the any associated physical or psychological complications.

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information her Department has issued to staff of the Disability and Carers Service with regard to fibromyalgia. [318399]

Jonathan Shaw: There is no specific internal guidance for Decision Makers about fibromyalgia.

Staff use the Decision Makers' Guide and the NHS Choices website, and specific advice is obtained on a case-by-case basis from health care professionals working under contract within the Department.

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