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Written Answers

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 12 January 2009

Leader of the House

Members: Allowances

To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 461W, on hon. Members: allowances, (1) what criteria govern the circumstances under which hon. Members may ask for an advance from the 2009-10 communication allowance allocation; (246729)

(2) from what date hon. Members will be able to ask for a communication allowance advance from the year 2010-11.

The rules on advances of the communications allowance are as set out in the House booklet “The Communications Allowance and the use of House stationery” and the Green Book.

Members who wish to make use of an advance of the allowance must contact the Department of Resources which considers all requests on their merit. In broad terms, any advance of money from a future year should be no more than 10 per cent. of the allowance and be to meet a non-recurring expenditure item.

Members must also demonstrate that they will be able to manage within the reduced cash ceiling in the following year and consent to the recovery of any advances from their salary or the resettlement grant if they cease to be a Member and their allowances are overspent.

To date no advance from the communications allowance for 2009-10 has been requested this year nor were any advances made last year.

Members: Pensions

To ask the Leader of the House what procedures will be applied to over-payments of pensions to former hon. Members. (246276)

A variety of factors contributed to a significant number of pension payment errors by the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) related to the application of the guaranteed minimum pension (GMP). These errors included payment of pension increases at the wrong level and payment of increases too early.

In 2006 the Chairman of the PCPF Trustees and the Leader of the House agreed to an independent person being appointed to advise on the handling of the overpayments, so as to ensure that the approach adopted was fair and consistent and in line with the best practice on the recovery of overpayments of public money.

The independent adviser recommended that full recovery action be taken for all overpayments made within the last six years, apart from:

overpayments of less than £500, unless the scheme member agreed to repay the monies voluntarily;

overpayments made to members who had since died and whose estates had been settled; and

other cases where legal considerations supported non-recovery.

All future payments to scheme members were corrected.

To ask the Leader of the House how much has been overpaid on pensions to former hon. Members during the last three financial years; what the reasons were for this overpayment; and whether the amount overpaid will be recovered from recipients. (246277)

A variety of factors contributed to a significant number of pension payment errors by the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) related to the application of the guaranteed minimum pension (GMP). These errors included payment of pension increases at the wrong level and payment of increases too early.

Over more than 10 years, overpayments totalling some £402,000 were made to 177 scheme members, pensioners and widow(er)s.

87 scheme members were asked to make repayments, totalling some £185,000.

Some £253,000 has been written off, which includes a small proportion of the sum originally identified as recoverable.

Church Commissioners

Churches: Water Charges

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the aggregate effect of new water charges on the finances of Church of England churches. (245924)

As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Ben Chapman) on 11 December 2008, Official Report, column 671, it is estimated that the new charges will cost Church of England churches and cathedrals around £5 million or more per annum. In addition, churches using the public sewers will also be liable for highways drainage contributions at an estimated cost of £10 million per annum.

Electoral Commission Committee

Local Government: Reorganisation

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission on what grounds the Boundary Committee for England decides which bodies it is prepared to meet during its consultations on local government structural reviews. (244853)

The Electoral Commission informs me that when carrying out a review the Boundary Committee for England organises a series of roundtable discussions to which it invites the county council, the district councils, the parish and town councils in the county and other bodies who currently work closely with local government and who the committee considers would have views on how any future unitary pattern of local government could work.

The Commission further informs me that the committee also uses stakeholder lists provided by the councils in order to help identify other individuals, organisations and businesses.

Local Government: Suffolk

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission on what grounds Forest Heath district council, Waveney district council and St. Edmundsbury borough council have been refused a meeting with the Boundary Committee for England during the consultation period for local government structural review in Suffolk. (244854)

The Electoral Commission informs me that at stages one and two of the review process the Boundary Committee arranged a series of meetings, both collectively and individually, with local authorities in Suffolk in which representatives from Forest Heath district council, Waveney district council and St. Edmundsbury borough council participated.

The Commission further informs me that it is the committee's policy to decline meeting requests from local authorities to discuss schemes not included in the committee's draft report.

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment he has made of whether the consultation process undertaken by the Boundary Committee for England in regard to the structural review of local government in Suffolk has so far met all the criteria set out in the Cabinet Office code of practice on consultation to date. (244855)

The Electoral Commission informs me that the consultation carried out by the Boundary Committee has met all the criteria set out in the Cabinet Office code of practice.

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what his policy is on whether the Boundary Committee for England's structural review of Suffolk local government should consider the views of the general public in the form of petitions as evidence in its deliberations. (244856)

The Electoral Commission informs me that the Boundary Committee will consider the views of all those who make representations to it, including those in the form of a petition.

However, the Commission also informs me that the guidance from the Secretary of State to which the committee must have regard states that

“the volume of representations for or against a proposal should not of itself be considered to provide a definitive view of that proposal's merits”.

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission how much money the local government structural review in Suffolk has cost to date; how much of those costs are in respect of (a) the salaries of those conducting, (b) consultation and (c) other costs. (244857)

The Electoral Commission informs me that the structural review in Suffolk has to date cost £218,757. This can be broken down into the following areas of expenditure:

£

Category of expenditure

(a) Salaries (including local government consultant)

109,948

(b) Consultation

27,483

(c) Other Costs:

Financial Consultants

65,791

Printing

11,794

Mapping

2,248

Couriers

363

Staff training

1,130

Total

218,757

Policy Advisers

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what expert advisers have been commissioned by the Electoral Commission since its inception; on what topic each was commissioned; and whether the adviser so appointed made a declaration of political activity in each case. (246967)

The Electoral Commission informs me that where records are available this information is presented in the following tables. The process for engaging expert advisers was centralised in mid-September 2008 and therefore the records are complete only from this point forward.

The Electoral Commission further informs me that there is no statutory restriction on engaging expert advisers based on political activity. However, given the nature of some of the work expert advisers may be asked to undertake the Commission has since mid-September 2008 required all such advisers to complete a declaration of political activity. Prior to mid-September 2008 declarations of political activity were only required of some expert advisers.

Expert advisers hired after mid-September 2008

Adviser

Purpose of appointment

Elizabeth Butler (made political declaration)

Independent member of the Audit Committee providing external challenge support and advice

Caroline Morris (made political declaration)

To provide legal advice to the Boundary Committee for England and Party and Election Finance Directorate

Trevor Shepherd (made political declaration)

Development of enforcement policies and procedures

Steve Kingston (made political declaration)

Acting Head of Enforcement

Expert advisers hired before mid-September 2008

Adviser

Purpose of appointment

Louise Ferguson

Consultancy services on a project on the design of ballot papers

Nicole Smith (made political declaration)

Consultancy services on the Commission's response to the White Paper on regulation of Party Funding

Justin Fisher (made political declaration)

Professional services to the Party and Election Finance directorate

George Fairbairn

Provision of advice, guidance and information to electoral administrators and other interested parties on electoral law and practice in Scotland

Denise Wheatley

Provision of advice relating to the Equality Scheme in Northern Ireland

Colin McDonald

Review of the Vote Scotland public awareness campaign

John Roberts

Legal advisor on parish orders

Terence Scarborough

Legal advisor on parish orders

Tessa Dunston

Legal advisor on parish orders

Graham Farrant

Mentoring of trainee practise advisers and project work on Electoral Administration

Peter Stanyon

Electoral Administration Bill guidance

Political Parties: Finance

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the proposals in the Political Parties and Elections Bill that political parties and other donees must take reasonable steps to verify the accuracy of the new declarations for donations over £200; and what assessment the Commission has made of the accuracy of the accompanying Ministry of Justice impact assessment on the issue. (246735)

The Electoral Commission informs me that the requirement for donation recipients to take all reasonable steps to verify declarations was deleted by Government amendments during the Public Bill Committee on the Political Parties and Elections Bill.

Children, Schools and Families

Academies: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what he expects the level of revenue spending for (a) 11 to 16 provision and (b) 16 to 19 provision in school academies to be each year from 2008-09 to 2010-11; and if he will make a statement. (245600)

It is not possible to disaggregate 11-16 spend on academies from other age ranges without disproportionate expenditure. The following table provides the details of the current level of the academies revenue budget each year from 2008-09 to 2010-11, and identifies specifically the sums within that budget transferred from the Department's 16-19 budget (which is mostly paid to the Learning and Skills Council at present) for sixth form provision. However, the sixth form figure excludes certain academies (former City Technology Colleges) never funded by the LSC.

The table is based on 55 academy openings in 2009 and 2010. As a result of the National Challenge, the number of actual openings will be greater, but are not yet fixed—although there are likely to be around 80 in 2009. Resources devoted to academies in 2009-10 and 2010-11 will rise accordingly, including the amounts transferred from the 16-19 budget and amounts recouped from local authority allocations of dedicated schools grant, as well as additions from the National Challenge budget for set-up costs.

£ million

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

Total revenue budget

853.03

1,188.04

1,567.85

Of which:

resources transferred in from LSC budget for sixth forms

51.20

84.77

128.31

Academies: Sponsorship

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what procedures apply when the lead sponsor of an academy withdraws from involvement after the academy has been established. (245243)

If a sponsor wishes to withdraw involvement once an academy has been opened then the academy trust and DCSF will agree the best way forward. The prime consideration will be the needs of the pupils at the academy.

Building Schools for the Future Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which local authorities he expects to join the Building Schools for the Future programme after 2010; and if he will make a statement. (245598)

Including the interim wave we launched this summer, there are now 80 authorities started with projects the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. The remaining authorities will enter the programme as soon as is practicable. I aim to announce the revised national programme in early 2009, using the revised expressions of interest which authorities submitted by 30 November. The most highly prioritised projects, which will access funding starting from 2011-12, should enter the programme later in 2009 where they demonstrate that they are ready to deliver.

Children in Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many children are in care in each (a) primary and (b) secondary school in each of the principal seaside towns in England. (241502)

Classifications that enable analysis at town level, including seaside towns, are not readily available therefore this information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Data have been published by the Department in SFR—Statistical First Release—23/2008: “Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2008”. Table LAA1 of that publication provides information on the number of looked after children at 31 March by local authority for the last five years. This publication can be found on the Department’s website via the following link:

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000810/index.shtml

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many children were in care as a result of their mother’s imprisonment in the last year for which figures are available; and what percentage of those children were subsequently returned to their mother’s care; (244491)

(2) how many asylum-seeking children are in care;

(3) how many children in care were convicted of a crime in each of the last five years, broken down by type of crime.

Information on the number of children who were in care as a result of their mother’s imprisonment and subsequently returned to their care is not held centrally by the Department.

However, information is collected on the number of children who were in care as a result of absent parenting and this can be found in table A1, taken from the Statistical First Release (SFR 23/2008) entitled ‘Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2008’. This shows the number of children looked after at 31 March for 2004 to 2008 by category of need. The reason for the parents’ absence is not collected.

The SFR is located at:

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000810/FinalSFRTablesoct.xls

Information on the number of asylum-seeking children who are in care can be found in table A4, within the same SFR.

The OC2 data collection collects information on a range of outcomes for looked after children from local authorities. This information has been published in the Statistical First Release “Outcome Indicators for Children Looked After, 12 months to 30 September 2007—England” (SFR 08/2008), which is available on the Department’s website via the following link:

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000785/index.shtml

This publication contains figures for the period 2005-07.

Information on the number of children looked after continuously for at least 12 months aged 10 or above convicted of a crime or subject to a final warning or reprimand can be found in table E. Information on the type of crime is not collected centrally.

Figures for 2002-04 are also published on the Department’s website and are available in volume reference (03/2005) here:

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DBA/VOL/v000580/index.shtml

Children in Care: Coastal Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to the Answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1821-3W, on children in care: coastal areas, if he will make it his policy to collect data on looked-after children by (a) ward and (b) lower super output area in the principal seaside towns of England. (244405)

We do not intend to collect data centrally on looked-after children by ward and lower super output area in the principal seaside towns of England.

In line with our commitments in the Local Government White Paper, “Strong and Prosperous Communities” we aim to

“reduce radically the number of nationally-required local targets, performance indicators and reporting”

and to replace these with a

“revised Local Area Agreement (LAA) process through which central Government and local partners will agree and manage a limited number of improvement targets for each local area”.

However local authorities will often be collecting information at ward/town level to aid their priority setting and performance management arrangements.

Children: Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to his Statement of 20 November 2008, Official Report, column 376, on safeguarding children, (1) what professional advice he was given regarding the publication of the serious case review; and from whom; (240898)

(2) on what legal basis he has decided he may not publish the serious case review for Baby P.

[holding answer 8 December 2008]: The Department does not routinely publish advice to Ministers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many children were on the Child Protection Register in the year ended March (a) 2004, (b) 2005, (c) 2006, (d) 2007 and (e) 2008. (241744)

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1834W

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm081126/text/81126w0076.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on how many occasions he has rejected the advice of the expert panel created in 2006 as to whether a person on the sex offenders' register should be employed to work with children; and if he will make a statement. (242144)

There have been no occasions when the Secretary of State has rejected the advice of the expert panel on whether a person should be barred from working with children. The panel was established in January 2006. The panel's role in advising on ongoing List 99 cases was transferred to the new Independent Safeguarding Authority on 31 March 2008.

Any person who has been convicted or cautioned for a sexual offence against a child since 28 February 2007 has been automatically placed on List 99—these cases have not required the advice of the panel.

Children’s Centres

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has to take forward proposals for legislation affecting Sure Start Children's Centres following the recent public consultation exercise; and when he expects the findings of the consultation to be published. (245772)

Yes, we plan to legislate for Sure Start Children's Centres as part of the forthcoming Children, Skills and Learning Bill. The public consultation exercise ‘Legislating for Sure Start Children's Centres’ closed on 6 November and we received over 300 replies. An overwhelming 97 per cent. of respondents agreed with our proposal to give Sure Start Children's Centres a firm legislative basis. We will publish the consultation report on the Department's consultation website:

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/

by the end of December.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much his Department and its predecessors spent on entertainment and hospitality in each year since 1997. (240626)

The following table sets out spending on entertainment and hospitality in £ thousand for the Department for Children, Schools and Families and its predecessor Departments in the relevant years.

£000

1996-97

24

1997-98

21

1998-99

31

1999-2000

21

2000-01

25

2001-02

11

2002-03

16

2003-04

20

2004-05

35

2005-06

45

2006-07

4

2007-08

16

The Department's policy on entertainment is in accordance with the principles of Treasury guidance in Managing Public Money and the handbook on Regularity, Propriety and Value for Money.

Entertainment expenditure is limited to occasions when official business can best be transacted in that way. Personal entertainment, in the form of hospitality, is usually restricted to where senior managers (deputy director or above) are acting as host and expenditure must be approved in advance by a director or executive board member.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to the answer of 21 October 2008, Official Report, columns 326-7W, on departmental publications, which documents his Department has circulated in exceptional circumstances to schools since December 2004. (241592)

To retrieve the information as to which documents the Department has circulated to schools in exceptional circumstances since December 2004 can be obtained only at a disproportional cost.

Education Maintenance Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1836W, on the education maintenance allowance, how many students have (a) received a notice of entitlement for the education maintenance allowance, (b) successfully enrolled and (c) received at least one payment, broken down by (i) local authority and (ii) constituency. (244906)

This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). Mark Haysom the LSC’s chief executive, will write to the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether he was kept informed of the number of students who had (a) applied for a notice of entitlement, (b) received a notice of entitlement, (c) enrolled on a course and (d) received a payment during his communications with the Learning and Skills Council about the administration of the education maintenance allowance. (244933)

Since the beginning of September officials have received daily processing statistics, supplied by the contractor via the LSC, which have included each of the areas in question. These data have been relayed to Ministers in the regular updates they have received on the processing of education maintenance allowance applications.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how regularly he has met or had communication with the Learning and Skills Council to monitor the administration of education maintenance allowance payments. (244934)

In response to the recent EMA delivery issues Ministers and officials have had direct contact with the LSC on a regular basis. This has included both correspondence and meetings. Since August Ministers have also received regular updates from officials, based upon their communication with the LSC. These updates have been received on a daily basis since the beginning of September.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his most recent estimate is of the percentage of eligible people claiming education maintenance allowance in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) Tees Valley district and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. (245024)

This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The helpline, assessment and payment function for EMA transferred to Capita from 28 November 2008. Mark Haysom the LSC’s chief executive, will write to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many pupils are receiving hardship payments as a result of a delay in receiving their education maintenance allowance payments; and if he will make a statement. (245575)

This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The helpline, assessment and payment function for EMA has transferred to Capita as from 28 November 2008. Mark Haysom the LSC's chief executive, will write to the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many education maintenance allowance payments for 2008 he expects will have been made by 1 January 2009; how many such payments for 2007 had been made by 1 January 2008; and if he will make a statement. (245650)

This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The helpline, assessment and payment function for EMA has transferred to Capita as from 28 November 2008. Mark Haysom the LSC's chief executive, will write to the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.

Faith Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools he and his predecessors have designated as being of a religious character in each of the last 10 years. (245852)

The following table shows the number of brand new maintained faith schools that have opened in each of the last 10 years. All faith schools are designated as having a religious character under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the Religious Character of schools (Designation Procedure) Regulations 1998.

Number of new faith schools

1998

3

1999

6

2000

3

2001

6

2002

10

2003

10

2004

14

2005

12

2006

7

2007

7

2008

6

Total

84

These figures include former independent faith schools that have joined the maintained sector. They do not include new faith schools resulting from schools amalgamating or faith infant and junior schools amalgamating to be replaced by a primary school.

General Certificate of Secondary Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many children in (a) Bedfordshire, (b) South Bedfordshire and (c) South West Bedfordshire constituency took one or more science GCSE in the latest year for which figures are available. (244067)

The requested information is given in the following table for GCSE science entries in 2008:

Total number of pupils at the end of KS4 entered for GCSE Science

Bedfordshire

4,683

South Bedfordshire

1,364

South West Bedfordshire

1,099

Note: The data is provisional and subject to change.

Health Education: Skin Piercing

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will take steps to encourage schools to educate children and young people on the issues surrounding body piercing, with particular reference to the risk of infection. (244111)

Pupils learn to assess and manage the element of risk in personal choices and situations as part of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education. The programme of study focuses on teaching children and young people the skills to recognise risk, minimise harm and to make choices and decisions in a range of contexts, based on accurate information obtained through their own research. Schools may use topics such as body piercing to illustrate and develop the skills needed to deal with risky behaviour.

Higher Education: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government plan to take to increase funding for university (a) research and (b) staff costs. (245809)

I have been asked to reply.

Funding for higher education has increased by 24 per cent. in real terms since 1997 and will have increased by some 30 per cent. by 2010, with higher education research funding set to rise to £1.9 billion by 2010-11 in addition to the funding that universities secure from research councils. Funding for staff and other costs are for universities to determine in the light of the overall level of resources available to them and the need to take sustainable decisions.

Intellectual Property Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when his Department plans to take forward recommendation 36 of the Gowers Review and match penalties for online and physical infringement of copyright. (245151)

I have been asked to reply.

Penalties for criminal copyright infringement must be proportionate to the harm caused to UK industries, so that they act as an effective deterrent. We have recently (31 October) completed a consultation on introducing exceptional summary maxima (above £5,000) in the magistrates courts for offences of online and physical copyright infringement.

Islam and Citizenship Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families in how many mosque schools the Islam and citizenship education programme is being piloted; in which cities these schools are located; how the pilot will be evaluated; and when he expects the programme to be rolled out nationally. (245536)

The Islam and citizenship education project is being piloted in 30 mosque schools in London, Bristol, Leicester, Bradford/Kirklees and Oldham/Rochdale. The Institute of Community Cohesion has been commissioned to evaluate the project. The draft lessons are freely available online to all mosque schools and will be updated in April 2009 following the end of piloting.

Languages: GCSE

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families in how many comprehensive schools 50 per cent. or more of pupils achieved a modern languages GCSE at grade A* to C in 2007. (240883)

In 278 comprehensive schools1 50 per cent. or more of the pupils achieved a modern language GCSE at A* to C in 2007.

The data were taken from the 2007 Achievement and Attainment Tables.

1 Only schools with 10 or more pupils are included in the answer.

National Curriculum Tests

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what marks were required in Key Stage 2 tests in (a) English and (b) mathematics to achieve a level (i) 4 and (ii) 5 in (A) 1999, (B) 2006, (C) 2007 and (D) 2008. (241851)

The National Assessment Agency (NAA) is responsible for administering national curriculum tests. The NAA has provided the following table of marks required in Key Stage 2 English and mathematics tests to achieve Level 4 and 5. NAA uses a range of statistical and judgmental procedures to ensure that the standards of performance required for the award of each level are maintained consistently from year to year. The content of each test changes every year, therefore different numbers of marks may be required in different years to achieve a certain level. Levels are anchored to the National Curriculum so that a level 4 achieved in one year represents the same level of performance as a level 4 achieved in any other year.

(a) KS2 English(b) KS2 Maths

(i) Level 4

(ii) Level 5

(i) Level 4

(ii) Level 5

Reading

Writing

Overall

Reading

Writing

Overall

(A)

1999

17

31

48

31

39

70

52

80

(B)

2006

18

25

43

33

37

70

46

78

(C)

2007

18

25

43

33

37

70

46

79

(D)

2008

18

25

43

32

37

69

45

78

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he expects a decision to be made on a replacement contractor for next year's key stage tests; and if he will make a statement. (245440)

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) announced Edexcel as its preferred bidder for the one-year contract to deliver key stage 2 national curriculum tests for 2009 on 15 December 2008.

Pre-school Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many five-year-olds did not start formal education until the autumn term in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. (244531)

Pupil Exclusions: Special Educational Needs

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of fixed period exclusions were given to pupils (a) with special educational needs and (b) who were children in care in (i) secondary and (ii) primary schools in each year since 1997. (241715)

Data on the number of pupils with fixed period exclusions was collected for the first time for the school year 2003/04, therefore data can only be provided for the last four school years. Information on the number of fixed period exclusions given to pupils with special educational needs is shown in the table.

Analysis of the number of exclusions of children on the school census, who were in-care at the time of the exclusion would incur disproportionate cost. The number of permanent exclusions of looked after children is however provided by the Department’s Outcome Indicators for Looked After Children collection (OC2), which is available at

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000785/index.shtml.

This collection does not cover fixed period collections.

Primary and state funded secondary schools1,2: Number and proportion of fixed period exclusions by special educational needs3—2003/04 to 2006/074,5—England

Maintained primary schools

State funded secondary schools2

Number of exclusions

Percentage of fixed period exclusions6

Number of exclusions

Percentage of fixed period exclusions6

2003/044

Pupils with statements of SEN

5,610

13.6

20,430

7.1

Pupils without statements of SEN7

35,690

86.4

267,600

92.9

Of which:

Pupils with SEN without statements

23,490

56.9

109,410

38.0

Pupils with no SEN

12,200

29.5

158,190

54.9

All pupils8

41,290

100.0

288,050

100.0

2004/054

Pupils with statements of SEN

5,730

13.1

21,980

6.7

Pupils without statements of SEN7

37,990

86.9

307,700

93.3

Of which:

Pupils with SEN without statements

24,860

56.9

124,980

37.9

Pupils with no SEN

13,130

30.0

182,710

55.4

All pupils9

43,720

100.0

329,680

100.0

2005/064,5

Pupils with statements of SEN

n/a

n/a

23,560

6.8

Pupils without statements of SEN7

n/a

n/a

324,750

93.2

Of which:

Pupils with SEN without statements

n/a

n/a

166,640

47.8

Pupils with no SEN

n/a

n/a

158,120

45.4

All pupils10

n/a

n/a

348,310

100.0

2006/074

Pupils with statements of SEN

6,240

13.6

23,660

6.5

Pupils without statements of SEN7

39,470

86.3

339,530

93.5

Of which:

Pupils with SEN without statements

30,690

67.1

179,160

49.3

Pupils with no SEN

8,780

19.2

160,370

44.1

All pupils11

45,730

100.0

363,270

100.0

n/a = Not available

1 Includes middle schools as deemed.

2 Includes both CTCs and academies.

3 The number of fixed period exclusions per SEN type expressed as a percentage of all fixed period exclusions per school type.

4 In 2003/04, information on fixed period exclusions was collected for the first time via the Termly Exclusions Survey.

5 For the 2005/06 school year, only information on fixed period exclusions from secondary schools was available.

6 The number of fixed period exclusions expressed as a percentage of the number (headcount) of all pupils (excluding dually registered pupils) in January each year.

7 Includes pupils with no identified SEN and those pupils with SEN without statements.

8 Totals include 12 fixed period exclusions for which SEN status was not known. These have been included in the total column only.

9 Totals include two fixed period exclusions for which SEN status was not known. These have been included in the total column only.

10 Totals include 48 fixed period exclusions for which SEN status was not known. These have been included in the total column only.

11 Totals include 140 fixed period exclusions for which SEN status was not known. These have been included in the total column only.

Note:

Totals may not appear to equal the sum of component parts because numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Source:

School Census

Schools: Admissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department has taken to reduce the school drop-out rate in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) Tees Valley district and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. (245020)

The Government have put in place a number of actions to encourage and support young people to remain in learning beyond compulsory schooling. These include:

the September Guarantee, an offer of a suitable place in learning for all young people leaving Year 11, was extended this year for the first time to 17-year-olds, to support young people on short courses or who were NEET during the year to re-engage. Latest data shows that over 94 per cent. of 16-year-olds and almost 80 per cent. of this 17-year-old group received an offer of a place in learning this year;

a range of financial support is available to young people to help them continue in education or training. This includes education maintenance allowance, learner support funds, residential bursaries, Care to Learn and dance and drama awards;

the NEET strategy (November 2007) introduced a number of measures to increase participation including a duty on providers to notify Connexions when a young person drops out of learning, and encouraging providers to offer more flexible and responsive provision throughout the academic year.

The Learning and Skills Council has a specific responsibility to raise participation in each local area.

As a result of local and national action and support 78.7 per cent. of young people were in education and training at the end of 2007—the highest rate ever, whilst the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) reduced 1 percentage point from 10.4 per cent. in 2006 to 9.4 per cent. in 2007, the equivalent of 20,000 fewer young people NEET.

In the North East, 76 per cent. of 17-year-olds were in education and training at the end of 2006 (the latest date for which data are available). In 2007 the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the North East was 10.0 per cent. Data are not available for Tees Valley or Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland as the data cannot be broken down to area or constituency level.

Schools: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1865W, on schools: standards, to which national challenge school the answer refers. (244993)

I will write to my hon. Friend with the information requested and will place a copy of my response in the Library.

Sex and Relationships Education Steering Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of each piece of written evidence that has been presented to the Sex and Relationships Education Steering Group; and if he will make a statement; (245205)

(2) if he will place in the Library a copy of each piece of research which has been commissioned by the Sex and Relationship Education Steering Group; what the cost was of each; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how much has been spent by the Sex and Relationships Education Steering Group in each year since its establishment; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) officials in his Department have had since January 2008 with the Roman Catholic church on material disseminated by his Department to Catholic schools on sex and relationship education; what views the Catholic church put forward in those discussions; and if he will make a statement.

The Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) steering group was established in March 2008 and had its final meeting in October 2008, at which it signed-off its report and recommendations to Government. Steering group members were reimbursed travelling expenses, but were not paid a fee for participating in the review.

To inform its consideration of the issues, the steering group commissioned:

Two on-line surveys: one seeking young people’s views on the SRE they had received at school; and the other seeking teachers’ views on what was preventing more effective delivery of SRE. The young-people survey was supplemented with a residential event with a small group of UK Youth Parliament members to discuss issues in more detail. The administration of the surveys, the analysis of the results and facilitation of the residential event were undertaken by the Sex Education Forum, which was paid £13,625 to carry out this work; and

Two literature reviews: one which reviewed the existing evidence on parents’ views on SRE; and one which reviewed the international evidence on the impact of SRE. These reviews were carried out free of charge by Professor Roger Ingham, from the Centre for Sexual Health Research, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, who was a member of the SRE review steering group.

The total cost of the review was £18,630.

Presentations were made to the steering group, summarising the key findings of the on-line surveys and literature reviews. A copy of each presentation will be placed in the House of Commons Library. In addition, a number of individuals and organisations submitted evidence to an ‘SRE Review’ e-mail account that was established to allow those who were unable to be accommodated on the steering group itself, to submit views. These submissions were circulated to the SRE review steering group for their consideration. Copies of these submissions will also be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Oona Stannard, Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Service was a member of the SRE Review steering group and was in full agreement with the group’s report and recommendations. Other than the SRE guidance published in 2000, and the non-statutory programmes of study for Personal Well-Being issued in 2007, the Government have not issued guidance to Catholic or other schools on SRE delivery. The resources that schools use to support delivery of their SRE programmes are determined by each individual school.

The Government published their response to the report by the SRE review steering group on 23 October. A copy of both the group’s report and the Government response are available at:

http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=13030

Social Services: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many complaints were made against social services departments in each local authority area in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (244691)

This information is not collected centrally. However, local authorities are required to keep a record of:

each representation/complaint received;

the outcome of each, that is, the decisions made in response to the representation/complaint and any action to be taken; and

whether there was compliance with the time limits.

Each local authority must produce an annual report drawing on this information. This report should not contain personal information that is identifiable about any individual complainant.

Young People: Mental Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the recommendations relevant to his Department's policy responsibilities made in the Foresight report on Mental Capital and Wellbeing, with particular regard to those recommendations concerning young people and adolescents; and if he will make a statement. (244012)

We welcome the Foresight report ‘Mental Capital and Wellbeing: Making the Most of Ourselves in the 21st Century’, published in October 2008. The report's broad analysis and recommendations are very much in line with the approach in the Children's Plan. In particular, we welcome the distinction made in the report between the development of positive well-being and tackling of mental health conditions.

We are already taking forward key programmes of work that are highlighted within the report such as work around parenting, children's social and emotional skills and the early years foundation stage.

In addition, the Government's initial response to the final report of the independent review of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, ‘Children and Young People in Mind’, published on 18 November, set out a strong package of proposals and action that are directly relevant to much of the Foresight report's findings. We have set up a National Advisory Council for children's mental health and psychological well-being to advise us on implementing the recommendations of the independent review of CAMHS report and hold us to account on progress. Services for vulnerable children have been identified as a key priority area for the implementation of the CAMHS review's recommendations.

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans there are to pay bonuses to staff at the Child Support Agency in respect of the present year. (242173)

The administration of the child maintenance system is a matter for the commissioner of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans there are to pay bonuses to staff at the Child Support Agency in respect of the present year. [242173]

The Child Support Agency was an executive Agency of the Department for Work and Pensions until 31 October 2008 when responsibility for the Agency and its people transferred to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. In this present year the Commission will operate bonus schemes similar to those already agreed when the Agency was part of the Department for Work and Pensions.

There are two bonus schemes: the individual performance bonus scheme and the special bonus scheme. Individual performance bonuses are based on annual appraisals markings and are awarded at the end of the operational year. Additional special bonuses can be awarded to an individual outside the annual appraisal system, to recognise and reward an exceptional personal or team achievement.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consideration is made of the implications for child poverty in second homes when debts to the Child Support Agency are enforced. (241925)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what consideration is made of the implications for child poverty in second homes when debts to the Child Support Agency are enforced. [241925]

Child maintenance debt is owed by non-resident parents to their children as a result of their failure to meet their financial responsibilities. If the non-resident parent has a second family with which he or she lives the children of that family are taken into account in the maintenance calculation and the non-resident parent's liability is adjusted accordingly. There is an over-riding duty to consider the welfare of the child in child support law and this extends to the responsibility the non-resident parent may have towards any second family. The Child Support Agency also takes into account representations of hardship from the non-resident parent when negotiating an arrears arrangement.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much uncollectable Child Support Agency arrears has been categorised as (a) probably and (b) possibly uncollectable, broken down by debt analysis type. (242175)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much uncollectable Child Support Agency arrears has been categorised as (a) probably and (b) possibly uncollectable broken down by debt analysis type. [242175]

The Agency undertakes an annual debt analysis exercise based on a sample of cases, to estimate the amount of debt assessed as collectable, and that which is deemed either possibly, or probably uncollectable. The results of this annual sample exercise are subject to review by the National Audit Office as part of their audit of the Agency’s accounts. The estimate for the year ending March 2008 was published with the Agency’s 2008 Annual Report and Accounts in July this year. A copy of the Annual Report and Accounts can be found in the House of Commons Library or on line at the following link:

http://www.csa.gov.uk/en/about/publications-corporate. asp#AnnRep

The latest estimate is also routinely published in Table 22 of the Agency’s Quarterly Summary of Statistics, and has been set out in the attached table for ease.

It should be noted that classing a debt as possibly or probably uncollectable does not mean the Agency will not take action in the future to collect any outstanding money. The Agency will continue to make every effort to ensure parents fulfil their financial responsibility to their children.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Child Support Agency

£ billion

Total gross child maintenance debt outstanding at March 2008

3.8

Of which:

Possibly uncollectable1

0.1

Probably uncollectable2

2.2

Collectable3

1.5

1 “Possibly uncollectable” debt refers to amounts outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed some uncertainty over whether it will be collected. The amounts are considered doubtful where, for example, payments have been infrequent or it has not been possible to establish an arrears agreement or impose a deduction of earning order.

2 “Probably uncollectible” debt refers to the amount outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed is likely to be very difficult to collect due, for example, to the lack of contact with, or the personal circumstance of, the non-resident parent. In many of these cases, the Agency has suspended recovery action until such time as the individual’s circumstances change.

3 “Collectable” debt refers to the amount outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed is likely to be collected. This takes into account factors such as regular contact with the non-resident parent, where regular payments are being made or an arrears agreement has been set up.

Notes:

1. Figures are taken from the Agency’s annual report and accounts and from table 22 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest £0.1 billion.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many uncleared Child Support Agency applications there have been in each month since May 1997. (242190)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many uncleared Child Support Agency applications there have been in each month since May 1997. [242190]

Information on the number of uncleared cases is routinely published in Tables 1 and 2.1 and the Summary and Target sections of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics, the latest copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library or online at:

www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/csa.asp.

Table 1 provides the available information on old scheme cases, by quarter from May 1999, information prior to this date is not available. Table 2.1 provides the information requested for current and old scheme cases but not including cases cleared clerically, from March 2003 when the current scheme was introduced.

Under its three year Operational Improvement Plan, the Agency committed to reduce the number of current scheme applications to 90,000 by the end of March 2009. As of September 2008 the Agency had reduced the number of uncleared current scheme cases by 66% from 220,100 cases in March 2006 to 75,700 including cases cleared clerically.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many letters requesting payment of child maintenance arrears have been sent to non-resident parents by the Child Support Agency in each month in the last three years; (242191)

(2) how many requests for full settlement of outstanding arrears of child maintenance have been sent to non-resident parents by the Child Support Agency in each month in the last three years.

I have consulted with the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission who have confirmed that the information requested is not available.

Departmental Conditions of Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance his Department provides to its managers on the right of employees of the Department to request flexible working; and what estimate his Department has made of the extent to which its staff in offices across the country have taken up this right. (244339)

Departmental guidance supports managers by covering both the legislative requirement and the Department’s application of its legislative requirement for employees to change the hours they work, the times they are required to be at work and also the ability to work from home.

At the end of October 2008, 35 per cent. (39,440) of employees in DWP were on part-time flexible working contracts. In addition there are employees who job share or work from home, either contractually or on an ad hoc basis.

Departmental Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many contracts his Department and its executive agencies have made with the training provider Inspire2Independence; and if he will make a statement; (245230)

(2) what steps Jobcentre Plus has taken to encourage the involvement of football clubs in Inspire2Independence's welfare to work programme;

(3) what assessment he has made of the performance of Inspire2Independence's football-related contracts with his Department and its agencies in (a) involving people outside the working population and (b) helping such people into work.

Inspire2Independence currently hold three DWP contracts for the delivery of welfare to work provision. The organisation plays a valuable role both in terms of delivering a range of welfare to work services and in helping develop activity to improve performance of welfare to work commercial services generally.

Jobcentre Plus has played no role in encouraging the involvement of football clubs in provision delivered by Inspire2Independence, though they are responsible for managing the referral of customers to provision. The “Coaching Academy” model developed by Inspire2Independence does make use of a number of football club facilities to deliver its services.

Inspire2Independence were given a challenging implementation plan and their performance against this is improving month by month. Their performance in November was in the top 25 per cent. of DWP welfare to work providers and overall they are achieving mid range performance.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether responsibility for data security is assigned at a senior level and included within relevant job descriptions in his Department; and if he will make a statement. (240332)

The Department's Information Security Committee (a sub-committee of the Department's Executive Team) is responsible for information security issues across the Department. Operational responsibility for security is assigned to respective chief executives and heads of businesses. Other senior staff in the Department's agencies have specific responsibilities for promoting data security and report to their respective chief executives. Following the publication of the Cabinet Office's Review of Data Handling Procedures in Government, specific senior civil servants across the Department have been designated as information asset owners who provide assurance to the Department's senior information risk owner that data assets are properly protected.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what independent assurance he has obtained on the adequacy of data security and information governance arrangements across his Department and its associated agencies. (240341)

Independent assurance on the adequacy of the Department's controls is provided from a range of sources including internal audit reviews conducted in accordance with governance arrangements that are overseen by the Departmental Audit Committee, comprising an independent chair and independent members.

In addition, new procedures introduced as part of Cabinet Office's review of data-handling procedures in Government, have led to the designation of information asset owners—senior staff—who provide assurance to the Department's senior information risk owner on the adequacy of the arrangements for the management of information assets. The departmental security officer, who is independent of the operational management chain, also provides an annual assessment on the prevailing level of security, and the consequent assurance that can be obtained across the broad range of security risks, including those relating to information.

These assurances, along with other information, will be used to inform the statement of internal control which will be published in the Department's resource account for the year ending 31 March 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what formal data owners there are for each dataset held by his Department and its agencies; and if he will make a statement. (240815)

In accordance with the Cabinet Office's report on Guidance on Mandatory Roles: AO, SIRO, IAO (accounting officer, senior information risk owner and information asset owner) published in April 2008, the Department has appointed a senior information risk owner and information asset owners who will have responsibility for meeting the requirements of the Cabinet Office data handling report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the adequacy of (a) staff recruitment and management practices, (b) administrative processes and (c) technical controls in maintaining data security in his Department and its agencies. (241304)

The Department takes its responsibilities for data security very seriously. In the last year, the Department has made substantial and extensive improvements to its handling arrangements for such data including the implementation of the recommendations of the Cabinet Office review of data handling procedures in Government.

In respect of the specific information sought, the following measures have been introduced:

(a) Staff recruitment: the Department has introduced additional background checks on new recruits, including the checking of identity and criminal records.

(b) Administrative processes: new procedures have been introduced that have considerably tightened up the handling of information, including improvements in the way data is transferred across the Department, and exchanged with external partners. Staff have been provided with improved guidance; security and discipline policies are being reviewed and refreshed; and major steps have been taken to improve security awareness.

(c) Technical controls: all the Department's laptop computers have been encrypted, and strict IT controls implemented which prohibit the use of unencrypted media (memory sticks, disks, etc). Wherever possible, data is transferred electronically rather than relying on physical media.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) procedures and (b) staff training programmes his Department has put in place on maintaining data security. (241305)

A wide range of new procedures has been developed and introduced, including implementation of encryption products for physical media and laptops, restrictions on the transfer of certain categories of information, and better control where paper documents are moved by courier services. All these changes have been supported by improved guidance to staff. In addition all new staff now undertake security awareness training as part of their routine induction. These activities are being supplemented by a concerted and significant campaign of staff awareness.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what records his Department maintains in relation to the classes of data held by his Department and its agencies. (241391)

The Department is registered as a data controller in accordance with the Data Protection Act, and the records maintained in relation to personal data comply with that registration. A very wide range of data records are necessary to deliver the extensive range of services and benefits administered by the Department. Such records as are held will vary according to the particular requirements of the related purpose under the legislation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions (a) information and (b) data was (i) lost and (ii) stolen from his Department in each year since 1997; and what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of recovering such losses. (244045)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mark Williams) on 22 October 2008, Official Report, column 408W.

Departmental Gifts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many members of staff in his Department have received gifts valued at £100 or higher in the course of their duties in each of the last three years; what these gifts were; and from whom they were received. (242019)

The following table shows the number of staff within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who received gifts valued at £100 or higher in the course of their duties within the last three years:

Number of staff

Details of gifts received

Estimated value of gifts (£)

From whom the gifts were received

2006

1

12 bottles of wine

150

London Business School

2006

1

Leather Folder, pen and book

150

Booz Allen Hamilton

None of the aforementioned items were kept by the individual recipient but were retained by the Department and used for official purposes.

The rules and guidance on receipt of gifts by civil servants are set out in the Civil Service Management Code, and in departmental staff handbooks.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1960W, on departmental ICT, (1) how many individuals have been disciplined over the loss of the items referred to; (240827)

(2) what steps have been taken to reduce future losses of ICT equipment;

(3) how much has been spent trying to recover the missing items referred to;

(4) which of the items of ICT equipment recorded as lost or stolen had software protection installed; and if he will make a statement;

(5) what assessment he has made of the types of data held on the ICT equipment which has gone missing from his Department since 2001; and if he will make a statement.

The Department takes very seriously its responsibilities to safeguard personal and other sensitive data. In the last 12 months, a number of major changes have been made in the way that data is handled and stored, especially insofar as items of removable equipment (such as laptop computers and memory sticks) are concerned. Significant improvements have been introduced, including the widespread deployment of encryption.

The information about lost and stolen equipment, given in response to the question referred to, was obtained from centrally maintained records of security incidents. Detail is not available from these central records to indicate the nature of disciplinary action that was taken in individual cases. Such information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost, given that the bulk of these incidents occurred a number of years ago. However, the Department is currently reviewing its disciplinary policies to better reflect the importance which it attaches to the security of valuable assets and information.

Following the Cabinet Office Review of Data Handling Procedures in Government, the Department has designated senior staff as information asset owners, who are personally accountable for providing assurance in relation to the information assets within their respective business areas. Additional steps taken to reduce future losses include measures which prevent employees from copying information to removable media, except where this has been encrypted.

Information on the costs of seeking to recover earlier lost or stolen equipment and which of such items had software protection installed is not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what records his Department keeps of computer (a) software failures, (b) viruses, (c) hacking attacks and (d) denial of service attacks. (241311)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Timms) gave the hon. Member for Hornchurch (James Brokenshire) on 10 March 2008, Official Report, column 17W.

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many dedicated Jobcentre Plus (a) special advisers and (b) press officers his Department employs. (240858)

Jobcentre Plus has no dedicated special advisers or press officers employed by the Department.

Their work is just one of the responsibilities looked after by the special advisers and press officers employed for the Department.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 1207W, on speeches, how much Mr. Phil Collins has been paid for speech-writing services to his Department to date. (242051)

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to ensure that those temporary and permanent employees at the same grade in his Department who are paid at an hourly rate are paid at the same rate. (244381)

DWP treats temporary and permanent employees in the same way. All employees are paid on the basis of an annual salary and not an hourly rate. The appropriate starting salary is determined by grade and employees are normally recruited onto the minimum of their pay band. Progression up the pay band is based upon the annual pay review. It is possible for employees within a grade to be on different rates of pay but this is normally due to factors such as individual length of service or the effects of pay increases following previous promotion.

Departmental Press Releases

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many press releases his Department has issued in the last 12 months. (240859)

The Department has issued 245 press notices in the last 12 months.

This includes ministerial press releases, policy announcements, statistical and analytical releases. The Department also issued press releases for Jobcentre Plus, Office for Disability Issues, Pensions, Disability and Carers Service and several advisory committees.

It also includes operational notes alerting the media to briefings and visits.

Departmental Rail Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what date he last used a train in the course of his official duties. (242601)

Employment Services: Cancer

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information his Department and its agencies provides on returning to work to those who have had cancer. (242862)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what information his Department and its agencies provides to those who have had cancer on returning to work. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

People with a health condition or disability, including those people who have had cancer, can get a range of information and support from Jobcentre Plus. Customers in receipt of incapacity benefits or the Employment and Support Allowance can access Pathways to Work, which offers a series of interviews with a specialist personal adviser, a condition management programme and the possibility of financial incentives when the customer returns to work. People making a fresh claim for incapacity benefits will be required to take part in Pathways to Work and existing customers can volunteer for the help available.

Customers in receipt of other benefits or no benefits, who have a disability that affects them in the workplace, can receive information and support from the Disability Employment Adviser. The Disability Employment Adviser can also provide access to a number of specialist programmes that can help them move into paid work, including, Work Preparation, Residential Training and WORKSTEP, a programme of supported employment.

Access to Work may also be available to those customers with a long term disability. Access to Work gives the customer and their employer advice and support with extra costs which may arise because of the customer's needs. The programme can provide grants towards the additional costs of travelling to work; providing Support Workers; adapting work premises, and providing special aids and equipment in the workplace. Disability Employment Advisers can signpost customers to Access to Work.

Customers have access to a variety of leaflets from jobcentres. In addition, information about the help that may be available to people with a health condition or disability is available on the internet at:

www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk or www.direct.gov.uk.

I hope this information's helpful.

Employment Services: Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps Jobcentre Plus is taking to assist people recently made redundant back into work. (240276)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what steps Jobcentre Plus is taking to assist people recently made redundant back into work. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

A person who is made redundant and makes a claim to Jobseeker’s Allowance is interviewed by one of our Personal Advisers, to explain the help and support available which is then tailored to their individual needs. They are helped to draw up a job plan and Jobseeker’s Agreement, which is reviewed fortnightly. Jobseekers can also access job vacancies on our website and our electronic jobpoints, as well as contact our Jobseeker Direct telephone helpline.

We have also recently introduced a “Finding your way back to work” leaflet to help people understand what help is available, and a “Jobkit” to help those made redundant in preparing to find a new job.

Where a business announces a number of redundancies we provide our Rapid Response Service to support the employer and employees. This can involve a range of support, such as workplace briefings by Jobcentre staff, skills assessments, and advice on how to look for a new job. The budget for this service was doubled this year, from £3m to £6m, and will be doubled again next year to £12m. This will enable us to deal more effectively with situations involving 20 or more redundancies, or where there is a group of smaller redundancies in one locality.

We have also announced that more people who are made redundant will get help through Programme Centres. These provide people with different kinds of help such as help in CV-writing and gaining jobsearch skills. Access to Programme Centres was previously restricted to those furthest from the labour market. Advisers will now have the discretion to allow any customers to access this help as soon as they become unemployed. This will be useful for people who have been in work for a long time and have no recent experience of job hunting.

We are also extending the successful Local Employment Partnerships to provide help for newly redundant people. Through these, Jobcentre Plus is already working successfully with over 13,000 employers, and has helped over 70,000 people into work.

Employment Vacancies

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many job vacancies there were in (a) Hemel Hempstead, (b) Hertfordshire and (c) England at the latest date for which figures are available. (242678)

The available information is in the table.

Jobcentre Plus vacancies in England, Hertfordshire local authority area and Hemel Hempstead parliamentary constituency as at October 2008

Notified vacancies

Live unfilled vacancies

England

313,928

335,266

Hemel Hempstead Parliamentary Constituency

691

627

Hertfordshire Local Authority

5,742

5,443

Notes:

1. Interpretation of these data needs to take account of changes in recent years to Jobcentre Plus procedures for taking and handling vacancies. These figures are not fully comparable over time and may not indicate developments in the labour market. A more detailed explanation is available on the nomis website.

2. Notified vacancies include any speculative placings recorded by Jobcentre Plus. Datasets from May 2006 may reflect substantially reduced levels of speculative placings as part of the notified series. Consequently, care should be taken in interpreting time-series data.

3. The stocks of unfilled vacancies reflect more accurately job opportunities available via Jobcentre Plus. In the case of unfilled vacancies, use of the figures on live vacancies is recommended (i.e. excluding suspended vacancies), and this is the default option. Live vacancies may still include some vacancies which have already been filled or are otherwise no longer open to recruits, due to natural lags in procedures for following up vacancies with employers.

4. Data are unrounded.

5. Figures cover only those vacancies advertised through Jobcentre Plus, and so will not capture all available vacancies. Comprehensive estimates of all job vacancies (not just those notified to Jobcentre Plus) are available from the monthly ONS Vacancy Survey since April 2001, based on a sample of some 6,000 enterprises. However, the ONS survey is currently designed to provide national estimates only.

Source:

Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System.

European Social Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the European Social Fund spending announced on 15 October 2008 and 4 November 2008 came from funds already in his Department’s budget for the spending period 2008-09 to 2010-11. (244801)

[holding answer 18 December 2008]: The European social fund spending is additional to the funds in the Department’s budget for the spending period 2008-09 to 2010-11.

Income Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 16 July 2008, Official Report, columns 474-5W, how many and what proportion of his Department's 8,950 customer-facing staff have received specific training on the changes to the eligibility rules for income support which came into effect in November 2008; and if he will make a statement. (241029)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave her on 20 October 2008, Official Report, 145W.

Income Support: Mortgages

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had with Treasury Ministers on income support mortgage interest. (244807)

[holding answer 18 December 2008]: We continue to work jointly with other Government Departments including HM Treasury to consider how best we can support those borrowers who may be facing difficulties.

In the pre-Budget report on 24 November, the Chancellor announced two further enhancements to the support that we provide to owner-occupiers through the income-related benefits. The standard rate of interest used in Support for Mortgage Interest will be fixed for six months at 6.08 per cent. for all customers who receive help with their mortgage repayments. And the capital limit up to which interest can be paid on eligible housing costs will increase from £100,000 to £200,000 for new, some repeat, and some existing customers from January.

Jobcentre Plus

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the total net change in personnel in Jobcentre Plus in each of the next two calendar years. (245036)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what estimate has been made of the total net change in personnel in Jobcentre Plus in each of the next two calendar years. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Information on estimated changes in Jobcentre Plus personnel is currently unavailable in calendar years. Our workforce plans are prepared by financial year, which runs from April to March. For the 2009/10 year, current estimates are that there will be a net increase of around 6,000 full time equivalent staff. Plans for 2010/11 are under review in the light of the increase in 2009/10, and a firm figure is not yet available.

Jobcentre Plus: Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1993-4W, on Jobcentres, (1) how many Jobcentres were (a) opened and (b) closed in each year for which figures are available; (241039)

(2) for what reasons the number of Jobcentre Plus offices has decreased.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking how many Jobcentres were (a) opened and (b) closed in each year for which figures are available, and for what reasons the number of Jobcentres has decreased.

This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

I am only able to provide information relating to Jobcentre Plus since its creation in April 2002.

The table below sets out (a) the number of newly transformed Jobcentres which have opened since April 2002 and (b) the number of offices which were open to the public and subsequently closed as part of Jobcentre Plus transformation. The majority of Jobcentre closures since April 2002 are a consequence of that transformation programme with a small number being attributable to service delivery reviews subsequently undertaken by Customer Service Directors.

Transformed Jobcentres rolled out by Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus offices open to the public and subsequently closed

2002

12

2

2003

257

47

2004

217

95

2005

163

99

2006

142

157

2007

13

49

2008

4

54

Total

808

503

In common with most large, modern organisations the great majority of our services are now delivered through the telephone and internet. For example, to give customers more convenient access, we have more than half a million vacancies on-line at any time (our website receives close to one million job searches every working day), and new claims to benefit are predominantly taken by telephone with some taken on-line. We remain the largest office network in Government with 747 modern Jobcentres which are supported by 31 contact centres and 79 main benefit processing centres. This has brought our customer facing services together in a more coherent and integrated network and I believe Jobcentre Plus is well-placed to respond to the full range of economic conditions.

I have asked the Customer Service Directors in our Regions to review their service delivery plans for every Jobcentre Plus District in the light of the current economic conditions and welfare reform changes planned for the next two to three years. This exercise will be completed by early 2009. As an immediate measure, I have decided to suspend proposed further Jobcentre closures while the current economic uncertainties exist, which will allow us to increase our capacity to deliver services to those in need of help.

Jobcentre Plus: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the budget required for the Jobcentre Plus network in each of the next five years. (241457)

The Department's published three-year plan is available in the Library and sets out the planned expenditure of Jobcentre Plus over the CSR2007. The Department will publish a revised plan before the end of the current financial year providing further details on future Jobcentre Plus expenditure.

Jobcentre Plus: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1993-4W, on Jobcentres, how many people were employed in Jobcentres in each year for which figures are available. (241040)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question, with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1993-4W, on Jobcentres, how many people were employed in Jobcentres in each year for which figures are available. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The table shows the number of full time equivalents (FTEs) that have been identified as being employed within Jobcentres each year within the period April 2003 to March 2008. Information prior to April 2003 is not available.

Number of FTE staff in Jobcentres

April 2003

33576.19

March 2004

36080.59

March 2005

40008.09

March 2006

40400.27

March 2007

26028.53

March 2008

27870.67

Notes:

1. Headcount figures are quoted in full-time equivalents using the Office for National Statistics criteria for counting headcount.

2. The figures quoted include all staff who have been identified as being employed within a Jobcentre. It does not include individuals in Social Security Offices or regional/district offices.

Source:

Jobcentre Plus Management Information Portal.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of jobseeker's allowance applications received by Jobcentre Plus were from people who had claimed jobseeker's allowance within the previous (a) three, (b) six and (c) 12 months of the claim being made in each quarter of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (241004)

The information requested is not routinely collected and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what activities qualify as work-type activity for the purposes of receiving jobseeker's allowance. (242361)

In order for a person to qualify for jobseeker's allowance they must be available for, capable of, and actively seeking work.

Actively seeking work means that a person must carry out a reasonable number of activities, normally a minimum of three, every week in trying to secure work. At the beginning of a claim and at regular intervals thereafter, the customer will discuss with their adviser what employment they are looking for. They will then be required to actively seek work in whatever way is most appropriate for that type of employment and their individual circumstances. These activities will be agreed by both parties.

When considering the reasonableness of the activities, the adviser will take into account the customer's skills, qualifications and abilities, along with any personal limitations they may have. They will also consider how long the customer has been unemployed and the current availability of that work in the local labour market.

Examples of the types of activities a person may engage in are: speculative enquiries with employers; using all means available to locate suitable work, such as Jobseeker Direct, Jobpoints, internet, newspapers and magazines; registering with appropriate recruitment and employment agencies; and applying for all suitable jobs by the most appropriate means. This list is not exhaustive.

Jobseeker’s Allowance: Bexley

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what courses were offered to claimants of jobseeker's allowance in the London borough of Bexley in the last 12 months; and what the cost was per person of each course completed. (243048)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what courses were offered to claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance in the London borough of Bexley in the last 12 months and the cost per person of each course completed. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus.

I have enclosed a table which details the courses offered, with a brief description of each course, its duration, delivery location and the cost per customer of completing a course.

Courses available to customers in London Borough of Bexley within last 12 month period—contracted provision

Course

Description

Duration of course

Delivery location

Cost per customer (£)

Programme centres

Individually tailored job search for customers six months+ on JSA

13 weeks

PDRC Bexleyheath

367.30

Self-employment

Stage 1

Initial assessment

One day

Bexley JCP

60.20

Stage 2

Completion of business case and preparation for S/E

Eight weeks

TBA between TNG and customer

354.60

Stage 3

Test Trading

26 weeks

TBA between TNG and customer

2,616.75

Independent Assessment

Basic skills assessment

One day

Greenwich Alliance

65.00

New deal programmes

Gateway to Work1

Job search, advice and guidance, CV preparation.

Two weeks

CDG Eltham; CDG Greenwich; A4E Woolwich

786.35

New Deal Mentoring

One-to-one support tailored to individual needs

Fortnightly sessions

CDG Greenwich

696.94

Sound Engineering and Music Provision

Preparing clients for career in music industry

13 weeks

Deptford

1,450.76

Management and Professional

Specialist provision for graduates and professional customers

13 weeks

CDG Croydon

1,920.17

ESOL

Support for clients with very limited English

13 weeks

CDG Eltham

3,847.77

Basic Skills Employability Training

Basic skills training, career development, work trails and work placements

26 weeks

Bromley Field Studies

3,847.77

Numeracy and Literacy

Numeracy and literacy training towards qualifications. Work placements and job search

26 weeks

CDG Eltham; A4E Woolwich

3,847.77

New deal FTET 18-24 years

Business Administration

Tailored learning plans and work placements

13 weeks

CDG Eltham

1,717.66

Retail and Customer Service

Tailored learning plans and work placements

13 weeks

CDG Eltham; CDG Greenwich

1,717.66

Hospitality

Tailored learning plans and work placements

13 weeks

A4E Woolwich

1,717.66

Security Guard Training

Tailored learning plans and work placements. SIA licence

13 weeks

CDG Greenwich

1,920.17

Construction and Motor Mechanics

Tailored learning plans and work placements. CSCS licence

13 weeks

Study Xpress Woolwich

2,122.69

Teaching Assistant2

Practical training and work placement

20 weeks

Twin Training Lewisham

2,643.29

ETF Band C

Work placements in occupational areas and job search

13 weeks

CDG Greenwich; A4E Woolwich

2,189.49

Horticulture ETF Band C

Horticulture skills and duties

13 weeks

Bromley Field Studies

2,189.49

VS Band B Admin, Retail, Leisure, Hospitality

Work placements and job search in occupational areas

13 weeks

CDG Greenwich; A4E Woolwich

2,031.51

VS Band C Management, Health Care and Media

Work placements and job search in occupational areas

13 weeks

CDG Greenwich; A4E Woolwich

2,189.49

New deal IAP Age 25+

Business Administration

Tailored learning plans and work placements

13 weeks

CDG Eltham

2,031.51

Retail and Customer Service

Tailored learning plans and work placements

13 weeks

CDG Eltham; CDG Greenwich

2,031.51

Hospitality

Tailored learning plans, with work placements

13 weeks

A4E Woolwich

2,031.51

Security Guard Training

Tailored learning plans and work placements. SIA licence

13 weeks

CDG Greenwich

2,343.23

Health care and Public Services

Tailored learning plans and work placements

13 weeks

CDG Greenwich

2,189.49

Horticulture

Horticulture skills and duties

13 weeks

Bromley Field Studies

2,189.49

Construction and Motor Mechanics

Tailored learning plans and work placements. CSCS licence

13 weeks

Study Xpress Woolwich

2,343.23

Teaching Assistant2

Practical training and work placement

20 weeks

Twin Training Lewisham

2,643.29

Fork Lift

Practical training

13 weeks

CDG Greenwich

2,475.77

LGV Driving Cert C

Practical training

13 weeks

Training in Transport NW10 7AR

3,204.18

LGV Driving Cert CE

Practical training

13 weeks

Training in Transport NW10 7AR

4,197.67

ESF

Hardest to help3

Personalised support modules, motivation and confidence building

Outreach at Bexley JCP

1,923.08

Intensive Job search

CV and application support

Outreach at Bexley JCP

1,853.96

1 Available at six months for customers 18 to 24 years and at 18 months for customers 25 years+.

2 Available from September 2008.

3 Available from November 2008.

Abbreviations key:

FTET = Full Time Education Training

IAP = Intensive Activity Period

VS = Voluntary Sector

ETF = Environmental Task Force

ESF = European Social Fund

ESOL = English as a Second language

Providers:

CDG: Careers Development Group—New Deal prime contractor.

A4E, Bromley Field Studies, Study Xpress, and Twin Training—all subcontractors of CDG.

PDRC: Personal Development Resource Centre—programme centre prime contractor.

Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new cases have been brought to the Child Support Agency in the last 12 months; and how many of these cases the CSA has started maintenance payments. (243467)

[holding answer 15 December 2008]: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new cases were brought to the Child Support Agency (CSA) in the last 12 months; and in how many of these cases the CSA has started maintenance payments. [243467]

The information requested is provided in the attached table and is routinely published in tables 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics. The latest version is available in the House of Commons library or online at the following link:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/csa.asp

It should be noted that in July 2008 compulsion to use the Agency was lifted for all new parents with care claiming income based benefits. Prior to this a proportion of new applications received from Jobcentre Plus were in fact change of circumstances to existing cases or are actually closed prior to a maintenance schedule being set up. These applications are included in the attached table.

As there can be a delay between the time an application has been assessed, and maintenance requested and the receipt of the first payment of maintenance a larger proportion of applications made in recent months will therefore not yet have started payment. The number of applications resulting in a payment for recent months will therefore increase over time, and these figures will be revised in future versions of the Quarterly Summary of Statistics.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Number of current scheme applications cleared each month and the number of those that have resulted in a maintenance payment being made

Month

Applications cleared

Maintenance due8

Percentage

Payment received

Percentage

October 2007

29,000

9,300

32

8,200

88

November 2007

29,800

10,000

34

8,900

89

December 2007

20,400

7,000

34

6,200

89

January 2008

27,900

8,800

32

7,900

90

February 2008

30,700

9,300

30

8,300

89

March 2008

27,000

9,000

33

7,900

88

April 2008

28,000

9,200

33

7,900

86

May 2008

26,400

8,500

32

7,300

86

June 2008

30,400

8,900

29

7,400

83

July 2008

31,900

8,100

25

56,400

79

August 2008

420,900

45,100

24

53,200

563

September 2008

415,300

44,200

27

51,500

536

Notes:

1. Applications for the period include all applications from potential non-resident parents or parents with care as well as, for the period to 14 July 2008 all applications from Jobcentre Plus when a parent with care applies for benefits and their details are sent directly to the Agency. Many of these applications are in fact a change of circumstance on an existing case or are closed prior to a maintenance schedule being set up.

2. Applications resulting in a payment include cases both where a payment has been made through the Agency and where a maintenance direct agreement has been arranged between a non resident parent and parent with care.

3. This table consists of information already published in tables 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics.

4. From 14 July 2008, new benefit claimants were no longer compelled to use the Child Support Agency. This has resulted in a reduction in the number of applications and potential applications received from Jobcentre Plus and therefore the number of clearances.

5. A significant proportion of applications cleared and which have progressed to payments stage in August and September 2008 will not yet have received the first payment, the number of cases cleared in these months that subsequently receive payment will rise.

6. The figures in this table are a snapshot of the status of cases at the end of September 2008 and are therefore subject to revision.

7. This table counts applications for Child Support. Not all applications become live cases. Information on the number of cases that are progressed clerically is not included in this table.

8. Refers to cases assessed as initially having a positive maintenance liability, which also progress to payment stage, including Maintenance Direct Cases. It does not include cases initially assessed with a positive maintenance liability which are subsequently closed or reassessed as not having a maintenance liability.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission plans to take to speed up the enforcement process, with particular reference to non-compliant self-employed non-resident parents. (243883)

The administration of the child maintenance system is a matter for the Commissioner of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Committee plans to take to speed up the enforcement process, with particular reference to non-compliant self-employed non-resident parents. [243883]

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 will provide the Commission with tools to establish reliable collection as quickly as possible and enable it to streamline the enforcement process and take action at the earliest opportunity.

The Commission will be able to make deduction orders to administratively remove funds from bank accounts, either periodically or in a lump sum, without going to court. Deduction orders can be used in cases where a deduction from earnings order (currently the most important enforcement tool used by the Commission) cannot, for example because the non-resident parent is self-employed.

The requirement to apply to the courts for a liability order before taking enforcement action will be removed and replaced with an administrative process; and the procedure for registering liability orders in the county court will be rationalised enabling swifter more effective enforcement action to be taken.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Mental Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the recommendations relevant to his Department’s policy responsibilities made in the Foresight report on Mental Capacity and Well-Being, with particular reference to the costs to the benefits system of those with mental ill-health; and if he will make a statement. (244028)

In general, the Foresight report provided helpful reassurance that scientific evidence supports the welfare reforms the Government are and will be making. More specifically, as chapter 8 sets out, its findings fed into Professor Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of the working population of Britain. The Government have accepted her recommendations and will be developing the first ever cross-Government national strategy for mental health and employment, which will help us improve work outcomes for people with mental health problems across the spectrum. This will incidentally contribute to benefit savings as well as their health and wellbeing.

National Insurance: Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of national insurance numbers which were used for fraudulent purposes in each of the last five years. (242172)

The national insurance number (NINO) is a unique personal reference number used for tax, national insurance contributions, social security benefits, state pension, tax credit and student loan award purposes. The number links an individual with their tax payments and national insurance contributions to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions, and is needed to make a claim to benefit. Estimates of NINOs used fraudulently for all of these purposes are not available.

DWP has robust checks in place to prevent NINOs being used fraudulently within the benefit system. Where DWP identifies that a NINO has been used for attempted benefit fraud or where DWP is aware that a NINO may be vulnerable to fraudulent use, the relevant NINO record is annotated accordingly. Any subsequent benefit claim using that NINO would automatically be subjected to close scrutiny, and if appropriate, referral to DWP’s Fraud Investigation Service.

The number of NINO accounts annotated for these reasons over the last five years is in the following table.

Number of marked accounts

2003-04

2,341

2004-05

1,087

2005-06

2,521

2006-07

2,965

2007-08

3,234

New Deal Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what modelling his Department has conducted on economic and labour market conditions in assessing the (a) funding and (b) anticipated employment outcome of the flexible new deal contracts; and if he will make a statement. (244047)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave her on 26 November 2008, Official Report, 2006W.

Pathways to Work

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much he plans to spend on the pathways to work programme in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11. (243476)

[holding answer 15 December 2008]: The Department for Work and Pensions has allocated around £1 billion in the pathways to work programme between 2008 and 2011. A breakdown of planned expenditure is in the table.

Pathways to Work planned expenditure

£ million

2008-09

280

2009-10

380

2010-11

380

Notes:

1. Figures provided for 2008-09 are budgeted allocations based on invitations to tender. Actual spend will be reported in due course.

2. Figures provided for 2009-10 and 2010-11 are indicative allocations based on current assumptions and are subject to change.

Pathways to Work: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what provisions are in place for incapacity benefit and employment support allowance claimants participating in pathways to work to access specialist disability employment services. (244043)

Jobcentre Plus offers support to incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance customers participating in pathways to work to access specialist disability employment services through the advice and guidance provided by specialist incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance advisers, disability employment advisers in Jobcentre Plus offices and the provider in provider-led pathways to work districts.

These advisers provide support advice and guidance about what services are available, and suitable, for customers and how they can access them.

Pension Credit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether restitution payments made to holocaust survivors are disregarded for the purposes of calculating entitlement to pension credit. (244953)

[holding answer 18 December 2008]: Lump sum payments made to compensate those who were slave labourers, forced labourers or suffered personal injuries or property loss during World War II are fully disregarded when calculating entitlement to pension credit.

In addition payments made to parents whose child died during the Second World War are fully disregarded when calculating entitlement to pension credit.

Social security pensions paid by the German or Austrian Government are fully taken into account. However pensions paid under special provisions by the German or Austrian Government to victims of National Socialist persecution are taken into account subject to a £10 disregard when calculating entitlement to pension credit.

Pension Credit: Leeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed pension credit in Leeds West constituency in each year since 2005. (245281)

The answer is in the following table.

Number of households recipients and individual beneficiaries of pension credit in Leeds, West parliamentary constituency

As at May each year

Household recipients

Individual beneficiaries

2005

4,580

5,440

2006

4,640

5,550

2007

4,610

5,510

2008

4,600

5,520

Notes:

1. The number of households in receipt are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.

3. Individual beneficiaries includes both claimants and their partners.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data

Pension Credit: Overpayments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much pension credit has been clawed back by his Department in each (a) month of 2007-08 and (b) of the last five financial years; and if he will make a statement. (241217)

The information in relation to pension credit overpayment recoveries for each month in 2007-08 is in the following table:

£ million

2007-08

April

2.3

May

2.2

June

2.4

July

2.4

August

2.5

September

2.5

October

3.2

November

2.9

December

2.4

January

2.5

February

2.5

March

2.2

Total

30.0

Note:

Rounded to the nearest decimal point.

In relation to pension credit overpayment recoveries in past years, I refer the hon. Member to the written answer the Minister of State, (Mr. McNulty) gave the hon. Member on 26 November 2008, Official Report, volume 170, column 2014W .

Post Office Card Account

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to ensure (a) that those receiving payments from his Department may opt to use the Post Office card account on the same basis as any other method of payment and (b) that the process to select the option to use the Post Office card account is neutral in its effect as between alternative payment methods. (245472)

Opening a Post Office card account is already very straightforward and we have plans to make it even easier for customers by automating parts of the process. We provide information which helps customers choose the account which best meets their needs and circumstances, including making the card account easily available to those who need it. And more than 10,000 new Post Office card accounts are opened on average each month.

We have already made changes to the booklet being sent to existing cheque customers so that it explicitly refers to the Post Office card account. We have also updated the messages that staff use when speaking to customers to reflect the fact that the Post Office card account will now continue until at least 2015. Other communications material will be kept under review.

Poverty: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the number of disabled children living below the poverty line in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire in each of the last 10 years; (242671)

(2) how many and what percentage of children in each age group in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire were living in absolute poverty in each year since 1997.

The information requested is not available.

Our child poverty statistics, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the number of children in relative or absolute poverty at Government office region level. Information is therefore not available at parliamentary constituency or county level.

Poverty: Leeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to tackle child poverty in Leeds West constituency; and if he will make a statement. (245284)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 2024W.

Social Security Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many unemployment benefit claimants there were in each quarter of the last 30 years. (243470)

[holding answer 15 December 2008]: The available information has been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of processing (a) disability living allowance, (b) attendance allowance and (c) carers’ allowance was in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08. (244542)

The information is in the following table:

Cost of processing disability living allowance (DLA), attendance allowance (AA) and carer’s allowance (CA)

£ million

Benefit

2006-07

2007-08

DLA

127

132

AA

47

40

CA

31

26

Source:

Activity Based Management system

Social Security Benefits: Arrears

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department’s latest estimate is of the effect on its expenditure from changing the backdating period for (a) pension credit, (b) council tax benefit and (c) housing benefit; and if he will make a statement. (240521)

The proposal to change the allowed length of backdating from 12 months to three months was part of a wider package of pensions measures to increase take-up and make benefit processes simpler. Older people will be able to claim pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit in one phone call without having to fill in, sign or return any claim forms. This will benefit thousands of pensioners often put off by complicated claim forms and the fear of large amounts of personal information being required. Over the long-term the package results in extra expenditure for pensioners, rising to £250 million per year by 2050.

For working age people, the Government’s response to the Social Security Advisory Committer’s consultation report, published on 15 September, recognised arguments presented by the committee on the potential effect of the changes to Housing benefit and council benefit backdating on vulnerable groups and announced that backdating for housing benefit for working age customers will move initially to 6 months rather than three months. Details of the estimated costs and savings associated with the original proposals in the wider package of measures can be found in the SSAC report.

Social Security Benefits: Cohabitation

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what criteria his Department and its agencies apply when determining whether a person receiving benefit is cohabiting with another person; and if he will make a statement. (244427)

When deciding whether two people are living together as husband or wife or in a civil partnership (LTAHW/CP) a Decision Maker must take into account the whole of the customer's relationship with the other person. There is no single factor which can determine whether or not two people are LTAHW/CP; for example, it is important that a decision is not made solely on the basis of their financial arrangements.

Among the other factors to be considered will be the existence of a shared household, the stability of the relationship, responsibility for children and the existence of a sexual relationship.

Social Security Benefits: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of adults with autism claiming (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b) incapacity benefit. (244041)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average clearance time for disability living allowance claims was in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08; and how many claims were cleared in a period longer than the average in each year. (244100)

Information about the actual average clearance time for disability living allowance (DLA) new claims is in the following table:

DLA new claims actual average clearance times

Days

2006-07

2007-08

Achievement

36.8

36.0

Target

39

38

Source:

DLA/AA Legacy computer system

Information about the number of DLA new claims cleared in a period longer than the average for these years is not available.

Social Security Benefits: Foreigners

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what benefits were paid to nationals of (a) other EU and (b) non-EU countries and their families in each of the last 12 quarters, broken down by (i) county and (ii) category of benefit. (244475)

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people reported benefit fraud online in each of the last three years; how many of those reports were made anonymously; how many such reports were followed up with an investigation; and how many successful prosecutions for benefit fraud there were over that period. (241157)

Information for council tax and housing benefit is not available. The available information for DWP administered benefits is in the following table:

Internet contacts

Internet referrals

2008-091

84,852

81,063

2007-08

80,127

78,230

2006-07

71,01

69,866

1 April 2008 to October 2008

Note:

The National Benefit Fraud Hotline only started systematically collecting management information on fraud referrals from the 2007-08 operational year.

All reports made to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline via telephone and internet can be made anonymously. No figures are available on the number of occasions when individuals have chosen to identify themselves when reporting their suspicions.

The information in the following table provides aggregated details of outcomes derived from all hotline referrals, which were then followed up by an investigation and how many were successfully prosecuted in the last three years. The outcome data are not currently split into telephone and internet categories.

The available information is in the following table:

Benefit Fraud Hotline outcomes, Great Britain

2005-061

2006-071

2007-082

Investigations

62,886

51,458

54,284

Prosecutions

811

679

910

Convictions

723

533

664

Recoverable overpayments (£ million)

21

17

18

The following information is available for overall convictions during the same period:

2005-061

2006-071

2007-082

Overall convictions

8,858

6,878

6,107

Notes:

1. Figures for National Benefit Fraud Hotline outcomes from 2005 to 2007 include only FIBS (Fraud Information by Sector) data.

2. Figures for National Benefit Fraud Hotline outcomes for 2007-08 also include FRAIMS (Fraud Referral and Intervention Management System) figures with the exception of ‘Convictions’ as this information is not yet available.

3. The figures in all three tables above relate solely to DWP referrals and outcomes and do not include referrals sent to local authorities by NBFH nor their outcomes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) males and (b) females were (i) convicted and (ii) received a custodial sentence in respect of an offence of benefit fraud in (A) each of the last three years and (B) each quarter of each of the last three years; for those people fined, what the average fine was; and how many people were dealt with by way of caution in the same period. (241158)

Information on housing benefit fraud is not available broken down by either gender or by the number that received a custodial sentence.

The available information for total convictions, cautions and administrative penalties for housing benefit is in the following table.

Number of convictions, cautions and administrative penalties for housing benefit

Convictions

Cautions

Administrative penalties

2004-05

Q1

1,026

1,216

897

Q2

1,238

1,652

1,019

Q3

1,165

1,711

1,184

Q4

1,259

2,070

1,396

Year

4,688

6,649

4,496

2005-06

Q1

1,443

1,925

1,264

Q2

1,449

2,327

1,662

Q3

1,542

2,087

1,502

Q4

1,800

3,369

1,771

Year

6,234

9,708

6,199

2006-07

Q1

1,409

1,991

1,229

Q2

1,471

2,586

1,645

Q3

1,377

2,569

1,676

Q4

1,477

3,205

1,981

Year

5,734

10,351

6,531

Source:

Housing benefit administrative returns supplied by local authorities

For DWP-administered benefits, there is no information available prior to June 2007 on departmental systems which provides a break down by gender of convictions, custodial sentences, and court fines.

This information is now being captured on an individual case basis by the Fraud Referral and Intervention Management System (FRAIMS) which was rolled-out on a region by region basis between June 2007 and February 2008.

However, this information cannot currently be extracted from FRAIMS at summary level.

The available information 2005-07 is as follows.

Numbers of convictions, custodial sentences, cautions and administrative penalties for benefit fraud in Great Britain

2005-06

Convicted

Custodial

Cautions

Adpens

Q1

2,055

113

3,025

2,657

Q2

2,024

88

2,488

3,116

Q3

1,789

87

2,607

2,561

Q4

2,235

102

2,423

2,536

Total

8,103

390

10,543

10,870

2006-07

Convicted

Custodial

Cautions

Adpens

Q1

1,972

222

3,282

2,773

Q2

1,790

146

3,221

2,771

Q3

1,408

137

2,970

2,325

Q4

1,708

108

2,503

1,941

Total

6,878

613

11,976

9,810

Source:

2006-07 figures are FIBS (Fraud Information by Sector) only.

For 2007-08 the available data are as follows.

Numbers of convictions, custodial sentences, cautions and administrative penalties for benefit fraud in Great Britain

2007-08

Convicted

Custodial

Cautions

Adpens

Q1

*1,729

*216

3,878

2,928

Q2

*1,831

*145

4,242

2,713

Q3

*1,429

*130

3,167

1,902

Q4

*546

*94

1,688

870

Total

*5,535

*585

12,975

8,413

Notes:

1. For 2007-08 figures marked with an asterisk (“*”) are not yet available from FRAIMS. Therefore, the information for the four quarters represents FIBS data only. Although this information is recorded on individual cases, it cannot be extracted at a summary level. Work is currently being undertaken to enable this to be done.

2. The same applies to providing data on the number of persons being fined following conviction, although it is not envisaged that average fine values will be able to be generated. The amount of fine imposed is a matter for the courts

3. Information has been included in the above tables showing the number of Administrative Penalties issued.

4. Administrative Penalties are used for less serious cases of fraud; those where the overpayment is below £2,000. Formal cautions are designed to correct claimant behaviour by getting them to admit to the offence. Administrative Penalties, which became available through the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997, give the claimant the opportunity to avoid prosecution by paying a penalty of 30 per cent. of the overpayment, as well as having to repay the overpayment in full.

Source:

2007-08 figures are a combination of FIBS (Fraud Information by Sector) and FRAIMS (Fraud Referral and Intervention Management System) data.

Social Security Benefits: Interviews

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which member of staff at Jobcentre Plus offices will carry out a claimant's first work-focused interview. (244044)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking which member of staff at Jobcentre Plus offices will carry out a claimant's first work-focused interview. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

A Personal Adviser, skilled in dealing with the customer's specific requirements, will carry out a customer's first Work Focused Interview. For example, a lone parent moving from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance will see a specialist lone parent adviser to take them through the new claims interview. Personal Advisors are well versed in the barriers customers may face when looking for work and they are able to offer appropriate tailored advice.

Unemployed: Voluntary Work

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment his Department has made of the effects on local communities of the long-term unemployed engaging in voluntary work; (242359)

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the likelihood of long-term unemployed persons who engage in voluntary work returning to paid work thereafter;

(3) what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the long-term unemployed who have been engaged in voluntary work (a) since February 2008 and (b) during the last two years.

We do not collect information about voluntary work, aside from when it is done as a mandatory part of a new deal programme, so we are not able to supply the figures requested.

The Government believe that voluntary activity can play an important role in helping unemployed people to keep in touch with the labour market. Voluntary work can also provide benefit recipients with skills and experience that may improve their chances of finding paid employment, and can improve social cohesion. However, there must be a proper balance between allowing benefit recipients to pursue voluntary activity, while at the same time encouraging them to retain a clear focus on moving off welfare into paid employment.

Recent research has looked at volunteering in the context of mandatory options in the new deals, including “The Longer Term Impact of the New Deal for Young People” (DWP working paper 23, 2008) and changes to benefit rules related to volunteering, “Volunteering and Availability for Work: An evaluation of the change to Jobseeker's Allowance regulations” (DWP working-age research report 190, 2004).

Copies of these reports are available in the Library.

Unemployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has (a) taken since July 2008 and (b) plans to take in the next 12 months to reduce levels of unemployment; what recent representations he has received about the issue; and if he will make a statement. (241159)

The Government are doing all they can to support people who become unemployed and through Jobcentre Plus and the new deal we are offering more support to help individuals move back into work as quickly as possible. The pre-Budget report made available to DWP an additional £1.3 billion of funding which will ensure that over the next two years, through Jobcentre Plus and our private and voluntary providers, we not only maintain, but increase, the support we offer.

We have already doubled the resources available to the rapid response teams who offer advice and support to those affected by redundancy. These funds will be doubled again from April 2009. The support provided by these teams can include information about sources of alternative jobs within the labour market or help with applying for existing vacancies; on-site job shops and fairs; helping people draw-up CVs or brush-up their job search skills; and, where appropriate, job-focused training to help individuals develop skills needed within the local labour market or other support to overcome barriers to taking up a specific job offer, such as travel to work expenses.

The Government are also increasing their engagement w