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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: In the past year, the Department for Work and Pensions has received a number of letters from the chairman of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust. The responses have explained that there is no universally accepted single research method that can be used to calculate a minimum income standard for all families. Different research methods tend to make different assumptions and generate a range of estimates.
The Government's strategy sees poverty as more than just a measure of low income. Poverty is a complex and multi-dimensional problem that affects many aspects of people's lives. Details of the progress the Government are making can be found in Opportunity for Allmaking progress (Cm 5260), published on 19 September. This report demonstrates that there have been continued real improvements in the lives, prospects, incomes and opportunities of all families.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We have noted the issues and concerns raised by the RNID in this report. On 19 October, the President of the Appeals Service and a number of senior officials from the Department for Work and Pensions attended by invitation the RNID's Breaking The Sound Barrier Conference. They took part in a session on the Can't Hear, Can't Benefit report and discussed many aspects of it with delegates. Follow-up action is being taken forward through a meeting between the department and the RNID.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Initially, winter fuel payments were made through automatic payment mechanisms to around 10 million people over State pension age who received certain qualifying benefits, without the need to claim.
The scheme was later extended, from its outset, to most people aged 60 and over, regardless of whether they were getting a social security benefit. A claims process was therefore developed for those not receiving specific benefits as the Department did not hold sufficient information to establish entitlement, particularly where an individual had had no need to contact the Department for many years.
It was estimated that the extension meant that up to an additional 1.5 million people were eligible last winter (200001) and up to 1.9 million people could be eligible for previous winters. As a combined claim form was used to deal with these payments, it is not possible to give more details about the numbers of claims for each year.
However, in total, approximately, 11.1 million payments were made for winter 200001. For winters 199798, 199899 and 19992000, around 1.1 million claims have been paid, in addition to the automatic payments. There are no time limits on claiming for these previous winters and successful claims continue to be paid. Estimates of the likely value of unclaimed payments cannot be derived with any precision.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: From April 2000 an information campaign ran to ensure that existing and potential customers knew about the changes to the winter fuel payment scheme and what, if anything, they needed to do to get a payment.
This year, the campaign, using similar media, began in June and is continuing throughout the year. The information includes advertisements in national and local press; a leaflet and poster, a dedicated Winter Fuel Payment Helpline and information on the Internet. Full explanation of restrospective payments is available in the leaflet, the Internet and from the helpline. The leaflet is made available in a variety of venues, including local social security offices, post offices, electricity and gas outlets, supermarkets and doctors' surgeries.
Eligible people are still able to claim for 199798, 199899 and 19992000 as there are no time limits for the payment in respect of these winters. However, it is up to the individual to choose whether or not to claim.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: There are 7.7 million households containing at least one person of state pension age in the United Kingdom. Notes 1. The figure is to the nearest 100,000. 2. The figures come from the 19992000 Family Resources Survey (FRS). The 200001 version of the FRS is due for publication soon.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It is estimated that about 1,700,000 households include one or more recipients of the highest or middle rate care component or higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance, or both.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It is estimated that about 1,400,000 households include one or more recipients of the highest rate care component or higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance, or both.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The proposed Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive includes a broad provision that workers exposed to risks from vibration receive information and training relating to the outcome of the risk assessment. It does not require employees to go on a compulsory training course, nor do the Government have any plans to introduce such a requirement in UK vibration legislation.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Strategic Rail Authority is a non-departmental public body whose chairman and members are appointed by the Secretary of State. Accordingly, the Secretary of State is ultimately accountable to Parliament for the authority. The powers of the authority are conferred by Part IV of the Transport Act 2000. Under sections 206 and 207 of that Act the Secretary of State may give directions and guidance to the authority. Following public consultation on a draft (issued on 29 June 2001) the Secretary of State intends to issue such directions and guidance shortly.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: In 1999, 620 people were killed in road accidents involving heavy goods vehicles, and a further 2,771 were seriously injured. In 2000, 560 people were killed in such accidents and 2,719 seriously injured.
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