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5 Mar 2010 : Column 1423W—continued

The latest available data are for the first quarter of 2009-10, for which the total expenditure on the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme was £120 million.

Pension Credit: Essex

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the number of pensioners resident in (a) Essex and (b) Southend eligible for but not claiming pension credit. [320642]

Angela Eagle: Estimates of eligibility are not available below the level of Great Britain.

The latest estimates of the take-up rates and the number of those entitled but not receiving pension credit are published in the report "Income Related Benefits estimates of Take-Up in 2007-08", which is available in the House of Commons Library or on the DWP website at:

Social Security Benefits: Aberdeenshire

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals are in receipt of (a) pension credit, (b) attendance allowance, (c) incapacity benefit and (d) jobseeker's allowance in Banff and Buchan constituency; and what the average weekly level of each benefit received was in the latest period for which figures are available. [319346]

Jonathan Shaw: Attendance allowance provides an important non-contributory, non-income-related and tax free cash contribution towards the extra costs of
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severely disabled people. The Government are committed to providing real help to disabled people, particularly through the early stages of economic recovery. This is why the Chancellor announced in the December 2009 pre-Budget report that attendance allowance would be increased by 1.5 per cent.-bringing forward help when it is most needed. Without this commitment, the recent negative growth in the Retail Prices Index would have meant that this benefit would not have increased in 2010.

From 27 October 2008 we replaced incapacity benefits for new customers with the employment and support allowance and a revised medical assessment which focuses on what people can do, as well as what they cannot.

The principal function of pension credit is to tackle pensioner poverty by topping up the incomes of pensioners over 60 to the guaranteed minimum amount appropriate to their circumstances.

The information requested is in the table.

Number of cases in payment and average weekly payment of Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance, Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance and Jobseeker's Allowance in the Banff and Buchan constituency in August 2009
Benefit Number of cases in payment Average weekly amount paid (£)

Pension Credit (households)



Attendance Allowance



Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance



Jobseeker's Allowance



1. Benefit recipients are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Average weekly amounts rounded to the nearest penny.
3. Benefit recipients receiving more than one of these benefits will be counted under each benefit.
4. Attendance allowance totals exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.
5. These data do not include claimants of employment and support allowance introduced from October 2008.
6. All data refer to benefit recipients and will therefore exclude credits only and nil payment cases.
7. Household is defined here as the number of individuals or couples in receipt of pension credit and equates to a "benefit unit" which, since 2006, also include same-sex partners. Two individuals who are not partners but live in the same house are counted as separate households.
Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

State Retirement Pensions

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what mechanisms were in place to monitor the implementation of the financial corrections made by her Department in respect of voluntary pension payments made between 1996 and 2002; [316300]

(2) what financial corrections were made by the Government in respect of reminders for voluntary pensions contributions in each year between 1996 and 2002; and whether those corrections were made only in respect of individuals who had previously made voluntary pension contributions; [316301]

(3) how much has been paid in pension back payments to overseas residents who did not receive reminders about their voluntary pension contributions in each year between 1996 and 2002. [316302]

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Angela Eagle: For the tax years 1996-07 to 2001-02 deficiency notices inviting customers with gaps in their national insurance records to pay voluntary contributions were temporarily suspended. Following the suspension my Department was responsible for contacting those people who reached state pension age between 6 April 1998 and 24 October 2004, and were due to receive a deficiency notice for one of more of the above tax years. An exercise started in September 2004 to contact such customers, where it would be beneficial for them to consider paying voluntary contributions.

Regulations allow for any customer who reached state pension age between 6 April 1998 and 24 October 2004 to pay voluntary contributions for the tax years 1996-07 to 2001-02. It is not possible to identify separately those who have made voluntary contributions after contact by my Department and those who have made them through their own inquiries. To date, following payment of voluntary contributions by individual customers, arrears of state pension amounting to £84.2 million have been paid to customers in Great Britain and £30 million to customers resident overseas. This is based on current information as customers still have until 5 April 2010 to decide whether to pay such voluntary contributions for these years. An annual breakdown of arrears attributable to voluntary contributions made in each of the tax years is not available.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations she has received on the uprating of the additional state pension; and if she will make a statement. [318621]

Angela Eagle: The Department has received a number of representations on the uprating of additional pension.

Increasing the basic state pension along with pension credit is the most effective way of getting help to over 11 million pensioners in Great Britain.

In the absence of RPI inflation there is no legal requirement to uprate additional pension. We have therefore decided to adopt a more equitable approach to helping pensioners by increasing the basic state pension which goes to virtually all pensioners in Great Britain and pension credit which goes to the poorest.

Work Capability Assessment

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) medical training and (b) diagnostic experience her Department requires of Atos Medical Ltd. employees contracted to carry out work capability assessments. [318177]

Jonathan Shaw: Atos Healthcare doctors must be fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) without current or previous restrictions, conditions or warnings and hold a licence to practice from the date the GMC issues licences. In addition they must have at least three years post full registration (GMC or EEA-European Economic Area equivalent) experience. Alternatively for non EU graduates three years minimum post full registration experience in the doctors native country is required. In individual cases, solely at the discretion of the DWP chief medical adviser, the requirements that no conditions or warnings be attached to registration and that the doctor must have a minimum of three years post registration experience, may be waived.

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Atos Healthcare nurses must be fully registered (level 1) Registered General Nurses without current or previous restrictions or cautions with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. In addition they must have at least three years post full registration experience. In individual cases, solely at the discretion of the DWP chief medical adviser, the requirements that no cautions be attached to registration and that the nurse must have a minimum of three years post registration experience, may be waived.

Atos Healthcare doctors and nurses are specifically trained to provide decision making authorities with independent, accurate and authoritative advice and reports on the effects of disability.


A19: North Tyneside

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that the proposed improvements to the junction of the A1058 and A19 are concluded in a way that
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makes appropriate provision for further future improvement works on the A19 to be carried out, with particular reference to traffic flow arrangements during any period of construction. [320807]

Chris Mole: The proposed improvements by the Highways Agency to the roundabout where the A1058 slip road and the A19 meet are an interim scheme designed to relieve congestion at the roundabout in the short term until a major improvement scheme can be delivered. In the Highways Agency's contract for these works, there will be a requirement to maintain two lanes in both directions for traffic on the A19 during peak periods.

By increasing the available road space at the junction, this scheme should make it easier to manage traffic flow during the construction of further future improvements, such as the major improvement scheme for the Interchange.

During the development of the interim scheme, discussions have been held with the designer of the major improvement scheme to ensure that there is a minimum of abortive work, and that the two schemes are compatible. The precise traffic management requirements for the major improvement scheme will not be decided until a contractor is appointed, but it is envisaged that the scheme can be constructed without major disruption, with two lanes maintained in both directions for traffic on the A19 and A1058 Coast Road during peak periods.

Bus Services: Concessions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer of mutual recognition of concessionary bus travel passes between England and Wales. [320936]

Mr. Khan: It is difficult to predict the cost of mutual recognition of concessionary travel bus passes across the devolved Administrations because the precise pattern of passholder travel is not knowable in advance. However, the Department for Transport has commissioned some research and this suggested that mutual recognition, excluding Northern Ireland, could cost in the region of £11 million per annum. This does not take into account the potentially significant costs of harmonisation of the different concessionary travel schemes which apply in England, Wales and Scotland.

Parking Offences

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what powers the Secretary of State has to (a) suspend and (b) revoke the civil parking enforcement powers exercised by a local authority; and what criteria he uses to determine whether it is appropriate to exercise such powers. [320958]

Mr. Khan: The Secretary of State has the power to revoke a Statutory Instrument that designates the whole or part of a local authority's area as a civil enforcement area for parking contraventions on the application of that authority. Each application would be considered on its merits. There is no power to suspend such an instrument.

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Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps he takes to assess the performance of local authorities in respect of civil parking enforcement. [320959]

Mr. Khan: We have no plans to carry out such assessments. Councillors are accountable to the electorate, rather than to the Government, for the performance of their local authority. The Government's longer term vision for local government involves councils reporting less to central Government and more to their local communities.

Children, Schools and Families

Class Sizes

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average staff to pupil ratio is in secondary schools in (a) St. Albans constituency and (b) England. [320889]

Mr. Coaker: The following table provides the pupil:adult ratios for local authority maintained secondary schools in St. Albans constituency and England, January 2009.

Within school pupil:adult ratio (PAR)( 1) in local authority maintained secondary schools( 2) Year: January 2009 , Coverage: St. Albans constituency and England




St. Albans


(1) The within school PAR is calculated by dividing the total full-time equivalent (FTE) number of pupils on roll in schools by the total FTE number of all teachers and support staff employed in schools, excluding administrative and clerical staff.
(2) Excludes city technology colleges and academies.
School Census


Departmental Paper

Martin Horwood: To ask the Solicitor-General what (a) suppliers and (b) brands of (i) paper and (ii) paper products the Law Officers' Departments use; and what the Law Officers' Department's policies are on the procurement of those materials. [320021]

The Solicitor-General: The information requested is as follows:

Attorney-General's Office (AGO)

Where possible, the AGO uses recycled paper products. Where it is not recycled, it is sourced from 'well-managed forests'. The hand towels, which are currently 'virgin pulp' are being switched to a 100 per cent. recycled product once current supplies are exhausted

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Brand Supplier Paper type Size Weight Recycled content



Copier paper



100 per cent.



Copier paper



100 per cent.

Xerox Symphony


Copier paper-green




Letterheaded paper


Ministerial paper






White Card




Luxury whisper


Toilet tissue



100 per cent.

Tork premium


Hand towels




Katrin classic


Kitchen roll



100 per cent.

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