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Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will set out, with statistical information related as directly as possible to Manchester, Gorton constituency, the effects on that constituency of her Department's policies since 2 May 1997. 
Jonathan Shaw: DWP leads the Government's response to some of the biggest issues facing the country-welfare and pension reform-and is a key player in tackling child poverty(1). As the biggest delivery Department in the UK, DWP makes a difference to millions of people every day, helping them to lead safer, fairer and more rewarding lives that are free from poverty. We want to give people more choice and control over their lives and are committed to providing greater choice and personalised support to everyone who needs it so they have the opportunity to get into and remain in work. We believe that work works. Even in economically challenging times we know that work works for the most vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
Through Jobcentre Plus, we are promoting work as the best form of welfare for people of working age. Since January 1998, the number of people unemployed in Manchester, Gorton has decreased by 10 per cent. to 3,891, and the number unemployed for more than one year has decreased by 63 per cent. to 515. From August 1997 to August 2009 the number of lone parents claiming income support in Manchester, Gorton has decreased by 44 per cent. to 1,890.
Our New Deals have helped lone parents, the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed, disabled people, the over 50s and partners of unemployed people to move from benefit into work. Since their inception over 2.2 million people in Great Britain have found work with the support of the New Deal, and 6,060 have been helped in Manchester, Gorton.
We introduced a target to halve child poverty by 2010-11 on the way to eradicating it by 2020. Poverty is measured using a headline indicator of the proportion of children in households with an income below 60 per cent. of contemporary household median income before housing costs. This is in line with international best practice.
This year we will be spending over £13 billion more on pensioners than if we had continued with the policies that were in place in 1997. Around half of that money will go to the poorest third of pensioners.
In 1997 the poorest pensioners, who received income support, lived on £69 a week (£98 in today's prices). Today pension credit, which was introduced in 2003, means no pensioner needs to live on less than £130 a week, £198.45 for couples. As of August 2009, 5,830 pensioners in Manchester, Gorton are benefiting from pension credit.
Statistics on the proportion of pensioners living in relative poverty are not available at the constituency level. But the latest data for the north-west Government office region show that the proportion of pensioners in poverty (measured as below 60 per cent. of contemporary median household income after housing costs) fell from 28 per cent. to 18 per cent. since 1997(2).
Pensioners in the UK also benefit from a range of additional support such as the winter fuel payment which for winter 2009-10 is worth £250 for households with someone aged between 60 to 79 and £400 for households with someone aged 80 or over. These payments provide vital reassurance to older people that they can afford to turn up their heating during cold weather. Prior to winter 1997-98 less than £60 million per year was spent helping pensioners meet their fuel bills-we now spend around £2.7 billion on winter fuel payments alone. In winter 2008-09 (the last winter for which information is available) 10,010 people aged 60 and over benefited from winter fuel payments in Manchester, Gorton.
We have also taken steps to strengthen and protect the private pensions system to ensure people can continue to have confidence to save for their future through the establishment of the Pensions Protection Fund, the Financial Assistance Scheme and a more powerful and proactive pensions regulator.
We have also taken forward a radical package of pension reforms in the Pensions Acts of 2007 and 2008 which will deliver a fairer and more generous state pension and extend the opportunity of workplace pension saving to millions, many for the first time.
The state pension reforms begin to come into effect from 2010 and will mean around three quarters of women reaching state pension age in 2010 are expected to qualify for a full basic state pension compared to half without reform.
Since 2001, we have significantly extended and improved civil rights for disabled people in areas such as employment, education, access to goods and services and transport. Disabled people in Manchester, Gorton will have benefited from these improvements. The Welfare Reform Act 2009 contains powers to increase choice and control for disabled adults, including disabled parents who are entitled to state support, enabling them to choose how certain state support is used to meet their individual needs. This will be trailblazed in eight local authority sites from late 2010. Older and less well off carers have gained extra help through the provisions within the National Carers Strategy.
(1) The Department for Work and Pensions was created in 2001 and so information relates to the Department and its predecessors.
(2) Based on three-year averages and changes are rounded to the nearest percentage point or 100,000 pensioners between 1997-98 to1999-00 and 2005-06 to 2007-08.
(3) Regional information about assistance payments received by members from the Financial Assistance Scheme could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will take steps to ensure that changes to the calculation of the rates of local housing allowance do not result in a loss of income for claimants. 
Helen Goodman: On 15 December 2009 the Department for Work and Pensions launched its housing benefit consultation exercise: 'Supporting people into work: the next stage of Housing Benefit reform'. The consultation concluded on 22 February 2010. The Department will consider the detailed policy design of any new measures, including any changes to the calculation of local housing allowance rates, once it has considered all responses.
The local housing allowance was rolled out from 7 April 2008 and is a more transparent way of calculating the rent element of housing benefit for people living in the deregulated private rented sector. The local authority uses the appropriate local housing allowance rate, based on the area where the person lives and the size of their household, to determine the maximum amount to be included in the housing benefit calculation. This rate is currently based on the median of rents within the local area. However, customers in some areas have benefited more than others from the local housing allowance, and high rents in some areas have driven up benefit rates. As part of its consultation exercise, the Department for Work and Pensions asked its stakeholders for input into how local housing allowance rates should be set in future to ensure customers can afford decent but not luxurious accommodation.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much Jobcentre Plus spent on redundancy payments in 2008-09; and what proportion of staff costs such expenditure represented. 
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has asked me to respond to your question asking how much Jobcentre Plus spent on redundancy payments in 2008-09; and what proportion of staff costs such expenditure represented. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
There have been no compulsory redundancies in Jobcentre Plus, and wherever possible we would seek some form of voluntary release. In 2008/09 there were early departures of staff approved and the cost of these departures are shown in the table below.
Departmental financial systems
Early departure costs can be either early retirement or voluntary severance. These relate to staff where posts have been removed due to modernisation and efficiency measures and no suitable re-deployment opportunities existed or were likely to emerge.
I hope this information is helpful.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average time between application and payment was for (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b) income support in each month of the last two years; 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking (i) what the average time between application and payment was for (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b) income support in each month of the last two years and (ii) what the average processing time of applications for (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b) income support claims in each benefit delivery centre in each month of the last two years. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
We cannot measure when the customer actually receives their first payment. The payment will be issued, if the customer is eligible, on the date a letter of eligibility is issued from our system. It is then either through the banking clearance system for the relevant bank/building society, or Post Office Card Account to make the actual monies available to the customer or for the postal system to deliver a cheque payment for the customer to cash.
Jobcentre Plus has formally published targets for the average actual clearance time (AACT) taken to process Jobseeker's Allowance and Income Support claims. AACT is calculated from our benefit processing system and is a result of taking all the claim volumes processed within any given month against the total number of days each claim has taken to process. The system conducts a simple division calculation using these data sets to provide us with the AACT.
The time used to calculate the AACT for the 2 benefits differs slightly;
For Jobseeker's Allowance the two dates used to calculate this average are from the initial date of customer contact i.e. their call to one of our Contact Centres or the first date of unemployment
(whichever is the later) to the date a decision is made on their claim and a letter of eligibility is issued to them.
For Income Support the two dates used to calculate the AACT are from the date the customer provides all the evidence required to process the claim to the date a decision is made.
For each benefit the AACT in days was as follows:
|Income support||Jobseeker's allowance|
I have arranged to have placed in the House of Commons Library the Jobseeker's Allowance and Income Support AACT data for the last two years.
I hope this information is helpful.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of jobseeker's allowance claims took more than 12 days to process in each benefit delivery centre in each month of the last two years. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many and what proportion of jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claims took more than 12 days to process in each benefit delivery centre in each month of the last two years. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Our management information system does not hold data specifically relating to JSA claims taking more than 12 days to process.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment she has made of the lessons to be learned from other Government IT projects in the delivery of services for the National Employment Savings Trust by the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority. 
Angela Eagle: The Department's Enabling Retirement Savings Programme, which is responsible for delivering the workplace pension reforms has used internal and external expertise to ensure robust delivery of IT programmes, including regular contact with the Office of Government Commerce, about IT project management both in the public and private sectors over the course of the last year, the causes of project failure and the lessons that could be learned from previous Government IT projects.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the written ministerial statement of 16 March 2010, Official Report, columns 57-8WS, on National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), if she will place in the Library a copy of the terms and conditions of the proposed Government loan to NEST. 
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the written ministerial statement of 16 March 2010, Official Report, columns 57-58WS, on National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), over what time period she expects the proposed Government loan to NEST to be repaid. 
Angela Eagle: The period in which the loan to NEST Corporation will be repaid will ultimately depend on a variety of factors, including the final costs of NEST and the size and nature of its membership. We anticipate that the total loan period, including the years in which NEST borrows from Government and the subsequent repayments, will last in the region of 20 years.
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