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17 Nov 2003 : Column 489W—continued

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the future of call centres in London for Jobcentre Plus clients. [136830]

Mr. Browne: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Andrew Dismore, dated November 2003:





Market Research

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list each item of market and opinion research commissioned since May 1997 by (a) his Department and (b) agencies and non-departmental public bodies for which his Department is responsible; what the purpose of each item was; and whether the results were published. [137007]

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Mr. Browne: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners he estimates in (a) the north west region, (b) Merseyside and (c) St. Helens, South are eligible for the Minimum Income Guarantee. [137983]

Malcolm Wicks: Minimum Income Guarantee was replaced by Pension Credit in October 2003. Estimates of the national number of pensioners previously eligible for, but not claiming the Minimum Income Guarantee, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are included in the publication "Income-Related Benefits—Estimates of Take Up in 2000/2001", copies of which are available in the Library.

Around 3.8 million pensioner households are eligible for Pension Credit nationally with around 500,000 in the north west and Merseyside region.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in (a) the north west region, (b) Merseyside and (c) St. Helens South are in receipt of the minimum income guarantee. [137984]

Malcolm Wicks: As at May 2003, the number of minimum income guarantee recipients in St. Helens south was around 3,400, in Merseyside Metropolitan 61,800, and in the north west and Merseyside region, 248,600. These are the latest figures available.

Pension credit replaced minimum income guarantee from 6 October 2003.

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New Deal

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 10 November 2003, Official Report, column 148W, on the New Deal, how many 18 to 24-year-olds left the New Deal for Young People with known destinations; and what percentage of these have subsequently found full-time employment. [139235]

Mr. Browne: Since the start of the programme, there have been 643,450 1 leavers from New Deal for Young People to known destinations, of which 55 per cent. have left to unsubsidised employment.


Pensioners (Benefits)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the total value of benefits unclaimed by pensioners in each year since 1997. [138693]

Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is not available.

Estimates of take-up of income-related benefits for Great Britain are in the Department's reports titled "Income-Related Benefits—Estimates of Take-Up". Copies of all the reports in the series are in the Library.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of public expenditure on (a) housing benefit for pensioners, (b) council tax benefit for pensioners and (c) pension credit as a percentage of gross domestic product in (i) 1997–98, (ii) 2002–03, (iii) 2010, (iv) 2020, (v) 2030, (vi) 2040, (vii) 2050 and (viii) for other years for which estimates have been made, assuming that the value of the pension credit increases in line with prices and that (A) pensioners' incomes from other sources rise in line with prices and (B) that pensioners' incomes from other sources rise in line with earnings; [134474]

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Malcolm Wicks: Expenditure on income support/minimum income guarantee, housing benefit and council tax benefit for pensioners as a proportion of gross domestic product in 1997–98 and 2002–03 is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Expenditure on income support/minimum income guarantee, housing benefit for pensioners and council tax benefit for pensioners as a proportion of gross domestic product
Percentage

Income support/minimum income guaranteeHousing benefitCouncil tax benefit
1997–980.450.450.15
2002–030.400.450.15

Note:

Figures rounded to the nearest 0.05 per cent.


The latest projections of the full cost of pension credit (guarantee credit and savings credit) to 2050 are published on page 148, Annex 3 of the Pensions Green Paper 'Simplicity, security and choice: working and saving for retirement' (cm 5677). Based on a number of assumptions about the future, as set out in Annex 3, this shows that pension credit expenditure could rise to around one and a half per cent. of GDP by 2050.

One of the assumptions used was that on average, income brought to account in the pension credit would increase in line with average earnings.

The Pensioners' Incomes Series 2001–02, based on Family Resources Survey and Family Expenditure Survey data, shows that average pensioner incomes between 1979 and 1996–97 rose by 64 per cent. in real terms, compared to average earnings growth in the whole economy of 36 per cent. in real terms. More recent growth estimates are subject to uncertainty, but the growth in average pensioner incomes between 1994–95 and 2001–02 was around 23 per cent. in real terms, higher than average earnings (up 12 per cent. over the same period).

Robust projections of future spending on pension credit, housing benefit for pensioners and council tax benefit for pensioners, based on alternative assumptions, and in different years, are not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However Table 2 provides a broad indication, of the likely relative costs in 2050 under alternative scenarios of pension credit uprating and pensioner income growth.

Table 2: Expenditure in 2050 on pension credit, housing benefit for pensioners and council tax benefit for pensioners as a proportion of gross domestic product

Percentage
Pension creditrises byPensioner incomes rise byPension creditHousing benefitCouncil tax benefit
EarningsPrices3.800.600.35
Earnings1.600.500.20
PricesPrices0.300.550.15
Earnings0.100.250.05

Note:

Figures rounded to the nearest 0.05 per cent.


As explained, given the evidence of past pensioner income growth, the likelihood that those eligible for pension credit in the future will have higher state

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retirement pension income than previous cohorts, and the growth of non-pension income, such as earnings, this assumption is likely to be unrealistic.

The long-term cost of pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit will also depend greatly on the decisions made by future governments in annual uprating statements. This Government are committed to increase the guarantee in line with average earnings for the remainder of this Parliament, ensuring that all pensioners share in rising national prosperity. Following the introduction of pension credit, the Government will be spending an additional £9.2 billion on pensioners in 2004–05 as a result of measures introduced since 1997.


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