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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Peter Hain) has made the following Statement.
Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the Department for Work and Pensions departmental expenditure limit will increase by £6,486,406 from £7,636,561,000 to £7,643,047,406 and the administration budget will increase by £17,880,000 from £5,798,484,000 to £5,816,364,000.
|Change £k||New departmental expenditure limit £k|
*Depreciation, which forms part of resource departmental expenditure limit, is excluded from the total departmental expenditure limit since the capital departmental expenditure limit includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.
The reduction in non-voted resource expenditure is due to a reduction in the cost of administering national insurance fund benefit payments. This reduction is offset by an increase in voted resource due to an equivalent reduction in income from HM Revenue and Customs to meet the cost of administering national insurance fund benefit payments:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Plaskitt) has made the following Statement.
Disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA) are paid to people with extra needs arising from their disabilities. These benefits are administered by the Disability and Carers Service. Where people have reached state pension age and are receiving state pension or pension credit, normal practice is to combine the payment of AA or DLA with state pension and pension credit so that the customer receives one combined weekly payment of benefit. These combined payments are administered by the Pension Service.
The department is responsible for administering more than 1.6 million such cases. It has recently been identified that, over a period dating from 1996, there are just over 4,000 cases where our customers have been paid in error by both the Pension Service and the Disability and Carers Service. The total amount overpaid is estimated to be some £26 million. Steps have already been taken to prevent such duplicate payments occurring in the future.
It is clearly right that where duplicate payments are being made the position should be corrected. However, given that the customers involved are both
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I recognise that some people will need help in adjusting their finances to the reduced, albeit correct, level of benefit. We believe that a very small number of the cases, around 50, involve people with a terminal illness and I judge it would not be appropriate to cause them and their families additional worry. In these cases, I propose to make ex gratia payments to maintain the higher level of payment. Based on information held by the department the estimated cost will be no more than £200,000 in a full year.
In all other cases I propose, at the same time as stopping the duplicate payment, to make in each case an ex gratia payment of between £100 and £350, depending on the length of time they have been overpaid. Beyond that, further ex gratia payments will be considered on an individual basis in case of exceptional needs. The total cost of making the ex gratia payments outlined above is estimated to be no more than £1.3 million.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): Today my honourable friend the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
Ministers are expected to reach political agreement on the proposed European qualifications framework, following amendments agreed with the European Parliament. These amendments are in line with the general approach that was agreed at a previous council.
Ministers will be asked to adopt conclusions on improving the quality of teacher education. These are aimed at improving both teacher training and the qualifications required by teachers, which are not formalised in many European countries. The UK is content with the text.
Ministers are expected to adopt resolutions on New skills for new jobs and on Education and training as a key driver of the Lisbon strategy. These emphasise the importance of skills in the knowledge economy and the role of education and training in achieving the Lisbon goals. The education and skills contribution to the Lisbon agenda will be further discussed at an informal ministerial lunch.
It is expected that a general approach will be agreed on the extension of the Erasmus Mundus higher education programme from 2009-14. The UK supports this text. There will be an exchange of views on promoting the mobility of students, in particular regarding support for students from less favourable socio-economic backgrounds.
There will also be an exchange of views on an action plan to promote multilingualism and on a resolution on modernising universities for Europes global competitiveness. This resolution is to be finalised at the Competitiveness Council on 22 and 23 November.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): Today my right honourable friend the Minister for Children, Young People and Families (Beverley Hughes) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Ministers will be asked to adopt a resolution on implementing common objectives for voluntary activities of young people. The resolution reflects one of the thematic priorities of the ongoing open method of co-ordination for youth and also contributes to the joint presidency priorities for 2007-08 of better social and professional integration of young people. The UK is broadly in favour of this document as it currently stands and particularly supports its emphasis on the positive contribution many young people make to society.
Ministers are expected to agree conclusions on a transversal approach to youth policy. The conclusions call for a more cross-cutting, mainstreaming approach to youth policy across education and employment in the context of the Lisbon agenda. The UK supports this approach.
There will be an exchange of views on better consideration of youth issues in the implementation of the Lisbon strategy and implementing the European Youth Pact. The UK believes that the Youth Pact is best implemented through the national reform programmes and is anxious to avoid any additional burdens around youth-specific reporting.
The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 19 and 20 November in Brussels. I will represent the UK at the Foreign Ministers discussions. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Douglas Alexander) will attend the Defence and Development Ministers discussions.
The council is expected to discuss the draft annotated agenda for the European Council in December on 13 and 14 December. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister explained to Parliament on 22 October, the priority for the EU now must be the global challenges that we face: employment, prosperity, competitiveness, climate change and security. The Government look forward to the European Council addressing these issues when it meets next month.
The Commission is expected to brief the council on maritime policy. The Government consider it important to maintain and promote the competitiveness of the EU maritime sector as part of the Lisbon agenda.
The council is expected to discuss the Commission legislative work programme 2008, which the Government welcome, given its focus on delivering results, better regulation, tackling climate change and promoting jobs and growth.
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