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Written Answers

Volume 506: debated on Tuesday 2 March 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many single payments were made in each of the last three years for which figures are available; how many such payments were monitored; and in how many cases reductions were made. (318843)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: The number of farmers who received payments under the single payment scheme (SPS) in England in respect of each scheme year is set out in the following table:

Farmers

SPS Scheme year

Number

2006

106,979

2007

104,589

2008

104,844

Latest figures show that, as at 23 February 2010 over 98,000 farmers have received payment for the 2009 scheme year, the payment window for which closes on the 30 June.

There are a number of farmers who have not received a payment because their claim is still undergoing the necessary validation checks. Some of these claims may result in no payment being due to the claimant once eligibility checks have been carried out.

All claims undergo validation as part of the Rural Payment Agency's regular processes and in addition a minimum of 5 per cent. are inspected, physically or remotely, as required by the EU. For cross compliance purposes, each of the four competent control authorities inspect at least 1 per cent. of farmers receiving payments that are conditional on meeting the cross compliance requirements for which they have responsibility. RPA uses existing cattle and sheep inspection regimes to partly satisfy this obligation.

The number of SPS claims which have been reduced is set out in the following table:

Reductions

SPS Scheme year

Number

2006

12,921

2007

13,719

2008

7,748

This includes a very substantial number of minor over-declarations of areas as well as more significant breaches of the scheme rules where we have to apply sanctions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at which locations the Single Payment Scheme is administered; how many people administer the scheme at each such location; and whether he has any proposals to reduce the number of (a) locations and (b) staff. (318845)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) currently operates from six main offices and there are no plans to reduce that number. RPA reviews, and will continue to review, its operations and resources regularly to ensure customer service is delivered effectively and efficiently. It is anticipated that RPA will reduce the number of staff employed at each office during the 2010-11 year.

Claims under the Single Payment Scheme are currently processed at RPA's offices in Exeter, Northallerton, Newcastle, Workington and Carlisle. Plans have recently been announced to transfer SPS processing from Newcastle to the Workington, Carlisle and Northallerton offices.

Staff at RPA's Reading office no longer process SPS claims but are involved in different aspects of administering the scheme.

At the end of January 2010 the number of full-time equivalent staff involved in administering the Single Payment Scheme is:

Staff

Location

Number

Reading

147.51

Exeter

201.85

Northallerton

385.67

Newcastle

232.89

Workington

244.03

Carlisle

259.53

Total

1,471.48

Note: These figures do not include Inspectorate or Finance staff.

RPA operates a flexible resourcing model and staff reductions are usually achieved through the reductions of temporary and fixed term appointments with regular consultation taking place with people and trade unions on any planned staff reductions.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many dogs have been seized under the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in each of the last five years. (319984)

Figures for the number of dogs seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 are not collected centrally.

Departmental Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) suppliers and (b) brands of (i) paper and (ii) paper products his Department uses; and what his Department's policy is on the procurement of those materials. (320039)

From information held centrally the Department's contracted suppliers for (i) and (ii) are The Paper Company and Banner Business Supplies Ltd.

From information held centrally the only brands for (i) and (ii) that could be identified are 100 per cent. recycled (Post Consumer Waste) Evolve Office and Evolve Business A4 80gsm copier paper.

In the financial year 2008-9 Core DEFRA purchased a total of 45,124 reams of white A4 80gsm copier paper at an average purchase price of £2.09 excluding VAT.

DEFRA's procurement policy requires use of recycled paper and paper products that meet the Quick Wins targets set by the Government in October 2003. The only exceptions to these standards would be where recycled paper or recycled products are not available for a specific process e.g. security paper. DEFRA is giving active consideration to achieving the 100 per cent. target for all paper it buys except in cases of specific process need.

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many households in England had (a) black sack and (b) wheeled containers for residual waste in each year since 2000. (319620)

The following table shows the number of dwellings in England that received a black bag or wheeled bin collection for residual waste from 2005-06 to 2008-09.

Number of dwellings

Black sacks ()

Wheeled bins

2008-09

2,928,662

14,893,442

2007-08

3,235,010

14,322,766

2006-07

3,581,016

13,611,652

2005-06

3,548,163

12,702,631

Source:

WasteDataFlow

For the years 2000-01 to 2003-04 the only data available shows the percentage of dwellings in England that received black bag or wheeled bin collection. For each local authority, all of its households were classified using the method of containment that was provided to more than 50 per cent. of households in that authority, hence these figures are subject to some uncertainty. The dwelling stock data for England for those years is provided.

Percentage of dwellings

Black sacks

Wheeled bins

Dwelling stock (31 March of financial year)

2003-04

23

58

21,636,000

2002-03

25

55

21,481,000

2001-02

21

52

21,337,000

2000-01

26

51

21,207,000

Sources:

Municipal Waste Management Survey, Department for Communities and Local Government website (Table 109)

Data for 2004-05 is not available due to the introduction that year of WasteDataFlow and there only being a 50 per cent. response rate from local authorities.

Local Government: Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what datasets not in the national indicator set (a) his Department and (b) the Environment Agency regularly collects from local authorities. (319623)

I refer the hon. Member for Peterborough to the answer given in response to the same question that he asked on 4 February 2010, Official Report, column 452W.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to reply to the letters of 20 November 2009 and 22 January 2010 from the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald. (319542)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: Unfortunately we can find no record of having received the right hon. Member's letter of 20 November 2009.

A reply to her letter of 22 January 2010 is being prepared, and will be sent shortly. I apologise for the delay in responding.

Rural Payments Agency: Location

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at which locations the Rural Payments Agency has had offices in each year since 2005; and how many staff the agency employed at each such office in each such year. (318846)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: The following table shows the number of full-time equivalent staff the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has directly employed in each of its locations since 2005. Numbers reported are as at 31 March in each financial year and are in line with the agency's ‘Annual Civil Service Employment Survey’ return to the Office for National Statistics which is published as part of the annual civil service statistics report.

Location

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

RPA main offices

Carlisle

353.51

401.78

399.74

395.57

393.76

Exeter

429.78

311.25

415.41

440.68

383.38

Newcastle

476.32

459.49

517.44

405.80

451.03

Northallerton

432.89

360.59

484.09

477.80

506.63

Reading

721.81

639.90

637.34

578.74

566.04

Workington

447.31

526.15

765.14

691.52

631.52

RPA outstations

490.89

278.61

370.45

356.84

336.53

Total

3,352.51

2,977.77

3,589.61

3,346.95

3,268.89

These figures include part-time and full-time employees of the agency and do not include agency staff and contractors.

The outstations are generally shared premises with DEFRA and/or other Government Departments and are located across the United Kingdom. The number of outstations is currently 48 but has varied from 33 and 56 between 2005 and 2009 with the merger of the Horticultural Market Inspectorate into RPA in April 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he has any proposals to reduce the number of (a) Rural Payments Agency offices and (b) staff employed at each such office. (318847)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) currently operates from six main offices and there are no plans to reduce that number.

RPA reviews, and will continue to review, its operations and resources regularly to ensure customer service is delivered effectively and efficiently. It is anticipated that RPA will reduce the number of staff employed at each office during the 2010-11 year.

Plans have recently been announced to transfer SPS processing from Newcastle to the offices at Northallerton, Carlisle and Workington.

RPA operates a flexible resourcing model and staff reductions are usually achieved through the reductions of temporary and fixed term appointments with regular consultation taking place with people and trade unions on any planned staff reductions.

Waste Disposal: EU Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department had with the European Commission on proposals to establish an EU waste implementation agency. (319624)

The European Commission invited member states, industry stakeholders and non-governmental organisations to attend informal workshops on the possibility of establishing a waste implementation agency on 2 April and 14 September 2009.

DEFRA officials attended both workshops. The Commission, via consultants, also invited member states to respond to an informal questionnaire on the feasibility of establishing such an agency. The UK responded to that questionnaire in April 2009.

Waste Improvement Network: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has given to the Waste Improvement Network in each year since the network's inception; and how much it plans to contribute in (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11 and (c) 2011-12. (319666)

Communities and Local Government (CLG) and DEFRA have funded the Waste Improvement Network (WIN) as detailed in the table over a five-year period:

Funding Source

£

2006-07

CLG (through Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships funding - RIEP)

89,700

2007-08

DEFRA (direct grant)

100,000

2008-09

DEFRA (direct grant)

85,000

2009-10

85% DEFRA (direct grant), 15% CLG (through RIEP funding)

100,000

2010-11

85% DEFRA (direct grant), 15% CLG (through RIEP funding)

100,000

No budget has been set for 2011-12.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps his Department plans to take to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010. (319098)

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) participated in Earth Hour 2009 by asking the management in each of its buildings to take every possible step to ensure that no unnecessary lighting was left on. This is our aim at all times.

The NIO have appointed a Green Champion who intends to issue a similar message for this year's Earth Hour event which takes place on 27 March 2010 at 8.30 pm.

Culture, Media and Sport

Digital Broadcasting: Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of improving digital coverage in Northern Ireland before the digital switchover; and from what budget that cost will be met. (319473)

As set out in the recently published Digital Britain White Paper, the Government recognise that building out a digital audio broadcasting (DAB) infrastructure which meets the needs of broadcasters, multiplex operators and listeners, including improving the quality of the signal, will require additional investment. However, the digital radio upgrade programme, alongside the proposals on co-location and licence-renewals, will offer significant cost-savings for commercial broadcasters, some of which must support investment in improving coverage.

In areas where the BBC's need to deliver universal access is not matched by the economic realities of the local commercial market, the BBC will need to bear a significant portion of the costs. The full cost cannot be left to the BBC alone. Where possible, the BBC and national commercial multiplex operators should work together to ensure that any new transmitters benefit both BBC and commercial multiplexes. Partnerships between the BBC and commercial local multiplex operators will be even more important at a local DAB level.

We will work with the BBC, transmission providers and Ofcom to agree a plan for the extension and improvement of local DAB coverage, and where the cost would most appropriately fall.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the proportion of households in Northern Ireland with access to (a) national DAB services from the BBC and (b) commercial DAB services provided at (i) national and (ii) local level; (319474)

DAB coverage is principally measured by population rather than geographic area. Approximately 90 per cent. of the UK population currently have some access to DAB services on at least one multiplex.

DAB coverage in Northern Ireland is estimated at around 87 per cent. of the population. Listeners in Northern Ireland can access up to 23 DAB stations, including the 11 national BBC stations plus BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle, four national commercial stations (Classic FM, talkSPORT, BFBS and Amazing Radio), and six local commercial stations.

In Northern Ireland, the BBC national multiplex was extended in April 2009, with a new transmitter installed at Armagh, adding coverage for an estimated 80,000 people, improving reception for around 200,000 more in the area. The other four transmitter sites in Northern Ireland are at Divis, Brougher Mountain, Limavady and Sheriff’s Mountain in Derry/Londonderry.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether he plans to expand digital capacity in Northern Ireland to allow stations currently available on analogue to provide digital services before the digital switchover. (319476)

The Government have tabled an amendment to the draft Digital Economy Bill which would allow the existing national commercial multiplex to extend its coverage into Northern Ireland. This would double the capacity available for digital commercial services in Northern Ireland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether he has made an estimate of the number of local commercial radio stations in Northern Ireland without a digital migration pathway. (319477)

No specific assessment has been made of the impact of the radio provisions set out in the draft Digital Economy Bill on local commercial stations remaining on FM after the digital radio switchover. However, my Department is in regular dialogue with the industry with the specific purpose of ensuring that local radio can continue to thrive on FM after the digital radio switchover.

Listed Events Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations he has received from Ofcom in respect of the David Davies review of listed events. (319786)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: The Government's statutory consultation on free-to-air listed events has been extended until 19 March. A response from Ofcom has not as yet been received. Subject to any issues relating to confidentiality, responses to the consultation will be published on the Department's website in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 8 February 2010, Official Report, column 664W, on sports: television, what mechanisms will be used to resolve differences of opinion over the market value of listed events. (319838)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: The David Davies review of listed events acknowledged the potential impact of listing on the market value of the broadcasting rights to an event. The Government’s statutory consultation invites sporting bodies to submit evidence of such impact. Where credible evidence is provided, I will take it into account in assessing the overall economic impact on the sport in the event of a particular event being listed.

Olympic Games 2012: Culture

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the budget is for the Cultural Olympiad. (318853)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: The major projects and the UK-wide cultural festival of the Cultural Olympiad provide opportunities across the UK to celebrate the best of British culture. Facilitated by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, projects are delivered and funded in partnership with a range of public and private partners for example the Olympic Lottery Distributor, national Arts Councils and the Legacy Trust UK.

Approximately £72 million has been invested in funding and facilitating the Cultural Olympiad's major projects (three of which have been launched already) and the UK wide cultural festival. In addition to this funding, nearly 150 self-funded cultural projects have already been awarded the London 2012 Inspire Mark.

Public Libraries

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what timetable he has set for the proposed ending of the statutory requirement on local authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. (319730)

There are no plans to end the statutory requirement on local authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. It is this statutory basis which has protected and sustained the vital role of libraries in our communities.

House of Commons Commission

Members: Expenses

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much was paid to Detica as part of the investigation into the leaking of hon. Members' expenses files in 2009. (318945)

No payment has been made to date for a specific piece of work in connection with the internal inquiry into the unauthorised disclosure of information on Members' allowances.

Parliament: Energy

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many annunciator screens have been replaced for each reason in the last 12 months; and at what cost those screens were replaced. (319052)

It is not possible to identify the number in House of Commons areas but 32 faulty television sets carrying the annunciator have been replaced across the estate, including House of Lords areas, in the last 12 months, the House of Commons share of the cost being some £5,250.

Olympics

Olympic Games: Canada

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how much the Government Olympic Executive spent on travel for (a) officials and (b) Ministers to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. (318969)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: GOE has not yet received all the invoices for officials' costs.

Details of ministerial travel costing over £500 are published annually and include the cost, destination and purpose of the trip. It also provides information on the number of officials who accompany Ministers, and their costs are included in this return. The most recent list was published in July 2009 and the details of attendance at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic games will be included in the 2010 return.

Scotland

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many of his Department's officials were classified as working in (a) England and (b) Scotland in each of the last three years; how many are so classified in 2010 to date; and how much his Department spent on staff salaries in each quarter of 2009. (319586)

The Scotland Office does not classify staff as working in England or Scotland. The Office has staff in London and Edinburgh, some of whom travel regularly between London and Scotland as business needs demand. Scotland Office annual reports, which are available on our website, provide staffing information. Expenditure on staff salaries is not available in the form requested.

Transport

A12: Safety

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what plans he has to (a) upgrade, (b) improve safety and (c) relieve congestion on the A12 between its junction with the M25 and Witham; and if he will make a statement. (319082)

Following the then Secretary of State for Transport's announcement in November 2008 that the Department for Transport would invest up to £60 million in introducing new traffic management measures to improve safety, reduce delays and tackle congestion along 54 miles of the A12, the Highways Agency has begun to implement a programme of schemes to do this.

The Department for Transport has recently commissioned consultants to undertake the London to Haven ports national networks study. This is to understand and identify measures to address the issues on the strategic routes between London and the Haven ports, including the A12.

Aviation: Public Lavatories

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will make it a legal requirement for commercial passenger airlines to provide free lavatory facilities for passengers on all international flights using UK airports. (319702)

There is no international requirement for airlines to provide lavatory facilities for passengers. Airlines do however provide these facilities for free. We are not aware of any airlines who are not currently doing this.

Therefore we see no reason for regulatory intervention at present.

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much his Department has spent on national concessionary bus travel for pensioners since the scheme's introduction in (a) Chorley, (b) Lancashire and (c) England. (319338)

From April 2008, the Department for Transport has provided additional special grant funding to local authorities to cover the extra cost of providing the extension to the concession; which now guarantees free off-peak local bus travel across England to all eligible older and disabled residents:

(a) £275,041 in 2008-09 and £281,528 in 2009-10 to Chorley borough council;

(b) A total of £5,608,371 in 2008-09 and £5,740,644 in 2009-10 to all of the travel concession authorities (TCAs) in the county of Lancashire (which includes Blackburn with Darwen council borough council and Blackpool council);

(c) A total of £212 million in 2008-09 and £217 million in 2009-10 to the whole of England.

The Department for Communities and Local Government continues to provide the bulk of concessionary travel funding to local authorities through formula grant. Before 1 April 2008, funding for the statutory minimum bus concession was provided exclusively through the formula grant system.

The Department for Transport did however provide £31 million of grant to England in 2007-08 for the cost of producing and issuing the new England-wide bus passes to all those eligible, of which a total of £1,121,352 went to the TCAs of Lancashire; this includes Chorley's allocation of £69,004.

Bus Services: Greater Manchester

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the contribution which will be made from the public purse to the Greater Manchester cross-city bus travel scheme in the next 12 months. (319434)

[holding answer 1 March 2010]: Officials are currently assessing the business case and a decision on whether to grant initial funding approval will be made in due course.

Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Tolls

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what plans he has to introduce a facility for payment of tolls by credit or debit card at the Dartford-Thurrock river crossing. (319789)

The Department for Transport is committed to improving the levels of service experienced by users of the Dartford crossing.

In April 2009, the Department published its initial analysis of the current and possible future capacity constraints at the Dartford-Thurrock river crossing. On the basis of the findings and conclusions of the analysis, we announced further work to investigate what can be done in the short to medium term to improve the level of service provided by the existing crossing. This includes looking into ways to increase efficiency through the use of new technology.

The introduction of payment by credit or debit cards could be considered if it were demonstrated that this would be both cost effective and would not adversely impact on transaction times.

Driving Under Influence: Accidents

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many and what proportion of road deaths in each local authority area involved at least one driver with a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (320048)

The information requested is not available by local authority area.

However, further information about alcohol-related accidents can be found in the Drink drive articles, in ‘Reported Road Casualties Great Britain’, at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/

East Coast Railway Line

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many fewer train services will run on the east coast main line to and from (a) Retford and London and (b) Retford and Leeds in the next timetable period compared to current service levels; and how many more train services will run to and from London and Leeds over the same periods. (318897)

The Government have not specified, and does not expect, any changes to the current east coast main line train services at Retford to take place for the next timetable period, commencing in May 2010. The rail industry is developing a new east coast main line timetable for introduction in May 2011.

EC Transport Policy

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many other nations shared the UK position at the meeting of EU Transport Ministers on 12 February 2010 in La Coruña, Spain that the European Commission action plan on urban mobility should not lead to further legislation; and if he will make it his policy that UK cities and regions will retain the freedom to implement locally relevant solutions. (319705)

A significant number of member states shared the UK position by supporting the action plan but making clear that it should not lead to any new legislation and that the principle of subsidiarity should be respected. Twelve other Ministers explicitly made this point during their interventions.

It is Government policy that cities and regions should have the freedom to implement locally relevant solutions.

Immobilisation of Vehicles

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many vehicles were impounded for unpaid vehicle excise duty in each of the last three years. (319703)

The following table shows the number of vehicles impounded for unpaid vehicle excise duty in the United Kingdom for each of the last three years.

Number of vehicles impounded

2007

73,798

2008

63,059

2009

56,604

Total

193,461

Metronet

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what assessment his Department has made of the performance of Metronet against its objectives since its transfer to Transport for London; and what recent discussions his Department has had over its long-term future; (318148)

(2) what recent assessment his Department has made of the performance of Tube Lines against its objectives.

When the London Underground public private partnership (PPP) was established in 2003, performance measurements were put in place to enable London Underground to assess the performance of Metronet and Tube Lines. The performance reports are available on Transport for London's (TfL) website. My officials meet regularly with TfL, London Underground and Tube Lines to discuss a range of issues, including performance.

My written ministerial statement of 29 October 2009, Official Report, column 28W, set out new contracting and scrutiny arrangements for the ex-Metronet investment programme. I expect members of the new TfL independent advisory panel to be appointed shortly from a shortlist agreed with the Secretary of State.

Parking: Disabled

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what mechanism is available to enable disabled people to challenge service providers who do not meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 in respect of the adequacy of the provision of parking spaces reserved for use by people with disabilities. (318928)

Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 enables disabled people to challenge service providers to improve the services they offer to disabled people. Disabled people who think they may have been discriminated against can contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission for information on what they need to do.

Railways: Overcrowding

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what progress has been made on reducing levels of overcrowding on the passenger rail service between Chelmsford and London Liverpool Street; and if he will make a statement. (319083)

The Department for Transport and National Express East Anglia entered into a deed of amendment to the National Express East Anglia franchise agreement on 1 April 2009. As part of this agreement, from 14 December 2009, nine services a day between Chelmsford and London Liverpool Street have been extended by four carriages, providing essential new capacity during the morning and evening peaks on the Great Eastern main line.

In addition to this, additional and lengthened Great Eastern Mainline services are due to be introduced in December 2010 and May 2011. The precise calling pattern for these services is due to be finalised between National Express East Anglia and Network Rail in mid-March 2010.

Railways: Rugby

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will encourage train operating companies to increase the provision of rail services between Rugby and Scotland and the north- west of England; and if he will make a statement. (319381)

The existing west coast franchise is due to end in March 2012. Consultation on the detail of the next west coast franchise will commence 15 to 18 months beforehand. Train operating companies and stakeholders are free to come forward with proposals.

Roads: Snow and Ice

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what assistance the Government are giving to (a) Essex county council and (b) other local authorities to repair potholes and damage to road surfaces following the severe weather in the last two winters; and if he will make a statement. (319364)

The Department for Transport has published guidance on its emergency capital highway maintenance funding scheme. Authorities, including Essex county council, may submit a claim for emergency funding to repair damage to their roads which they consider was caused by the recent severe weather. The Department will carefully consider claims that are received.

Stagecoach Group: Judicial Review

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the status is of the judicial review in relation to Stagecoach and concessionary bus fares. (318577)

The major issues relating to the judicial reviews by bus operators in the Stagecoach and Go-Ahead groups, concerning the concessionary bus travel scheme, were heard at a preliminary hearing in the High Court from 17-20 November 2009. The court's judgment was handed down on 16 February 2010. The judge declined the operators' request for various declarations that would have fundamentally changed the reimbursement arrangements for concessionary travel.

There were also a number of more technical issues that were included in the original applications for judicial review by Stagecoach and Go-Ahead that were not considered at the November hearing. We are waiting to hear whether the operators decide to pursue these issues in the light of the judgment.

The High Court declined permission for the operators to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The Secretary of State conceded prior to the hearing that the appeal determinations in 2007-08 should not have specified payment of a fixed amount to the operator in advance of the financial year end. These appeals will be re-determined in due course.

Tube Lines

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions his Department has had with the Mayor of London on the future role of Tube Lines in the maintenance, renewal and upgrading of the London Underground network. (318149)

Departmental officials have had no discussions with the Mayor of London on the future role of Tube Lines. Ministers have regular meetings with the Mayor at which a wide range of transport matters are discussed.

Vehicles: Registration

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many drivers disputed a claim by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency that they had not submitted a statutory off-road notification certificate in the latest period for which figures are available. (319565)

Information relating to how many drivers disputed a claim by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency that they had not submitted a statutory off-road notification is not held.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many vehicles built before 1 January 1973 there were registered in the UK in (a) 1997, (b) 2003 and (c) 2009. (319704)

The following table gives the number of vehicles (rounded to the nearest hundred vehicles) licensed in Great Britain on 31 December 1997, 2003 and 2008 which were manufactured before 1 January 1973.

As at 31 December each year

Known to be manufactured before1 January 1973

1997

523,500

2003

493,800

2008

473,100

There are a number of vehicles known to be used before their date of first registration in Great Britain whose date of manufacture is unknown. At 31 December 2008 there were 51,000 such vehicles. It is likely that the large majority of these are modern imported vehicles, but a small proportion may have been manufactured before 1973.

Data are not yet available for vehicles licensed on 31 December 2009.

The Department does not hold data on vehicles licensed in Northern Ireland.

Treasury

Child Benefit: Glasgow

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many parents and guardians in Glasgow North- East constituency have received child benefit since 2004. (319972)

Information on the number of households benefiting from child benefit, by each parliamentary constituency, from 2004 to 2007 is published in the HMRC publication "Child Benefit Statistics. Geographical Analyses August 2007", available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/child_benefit/chb-geog-aug07.pdf

A breakdown of this information by parents and guardians is not available, as HMRC does not hold this information.

Community Infrastructure Levy

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department has classified community infrastructure levy as a form of taxation. (319631)

The independent Office for National Statistics (ONS) will decide on the classification of the community infrastructure levy (CIL) in line with European statistical guidance. The ONS will consider the classification of the CIL once regulations to implement CIL are approved by Parliament.

Departmental Energy

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department plans to take to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010. (319102)

HM Treasury supported the World Wide Fund for Nature’s ‘Earth Hour’ initiative in 2009, and this year will also be encouraging staff to switch off non-essential electrical equipment and lights on 27 March.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2010, Official Report, column 563W, on departmental pay, how many and what proportion of staff of his Department received both an annual performance bonus and an in-year bonus in 2008-09; what the largest combined bonus payment to an individual was; what proportion of staff received no bonus; and who was responsible for awarding such bonuses. (313131)

Non-consolidated awards are paid in two circumstances. First, performance awards are those linked to the annual staff appraisal system. Directorates are responsible for setting up performance review teams to award non-consolidated awards as part of the appraisal process.

Secondly, special bonuses are those paid to recognise exceptional performance for specific contributions or pieces of work during the year or situations outside the normal expectations of the post. Directorates are also responsible for the award of special bonus awards.

In 2008-09, 15 per cent. of full-time equivalent staff in post (191 individuals) were paid both a performance award and a special bonus, with the largest combined bonus payment to an individual being £14,000, with 39 per cent. of staff in post receiving neither a performance award nor a special bonus.

The permanent secretary is responsible for awarding bonuses, with the exception of his own, which is the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary.

Departmental Theft

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many thefts from his Department have been recorded in the last two years. (318991)

The numbers of thefts from the Department recorded in the last two calendar years are four in 2008 and six in 2009.

Empty Property

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what definition of the term (a) actual and (b) vacant is used for the purposes of property returns for the e-PIMS database; and what proportion of central Government property is recorded on that database. (319805)

The definitions of the terms vacant and actual are only used in the context of vacant space recorded on e-PIMS, Space that is vacant remains the responsibility of the owning department. Actual vacant space refers to space that is currently available, as opposed to potential vacant space (that might become available in the future but no specific date has been identified) or future vacant space (that is planned to be available at a specific date).

100 per cent. of property records within the mandated estate are entered on e-PIMS.

Excise Duties: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue has accrued to the Exchequer from duty on sales of cider in each year since 2005. (319517)

Historical receipts of duty collected from cider can be found in table 2 of the HM Revenue and Customs Beer and Cider Duties Bulletin, available at:

https://www.uktradeinfo.com/index.cfm?task=bullbeer

Government Departments: Carbon Emissions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made against the 2006 target to reduce carbon emissions from road vehicles used for Government administrative operations by 15 per cent. by 2010-11 relative to 2005-06 levels. (319344)

Government have a target to reduce carbon emissions from road vehicles used for administrative purposes by 15 per cent. by 2010 relative to a 2005-06 baseline. Overall the Government are on track to achieve this target, the current overall reduction against the baseline year is 17 per cent. Data supporting this delivery figure have been supplied by Departments and published. The latest assessment of Government's performance against this target was published by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) on 18 December 2009, and is available on the OGC website:

http://www.ogc.gov.uk/sustainability_programme_progress.asp

Inheritance Tax: Dundee

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what revenue accrued to the Exchequer from inheritance tax levied on estates in Dundee, East constituency in the last five years. (319568)

The information is not currently available at a constituency level. Inheritance tax data are based on a UK-wide sample of cases which is designed to produce national level figures and the size of the sample means that HMRC cannot reliably estimate tax receipts below a regional level.

Inheritance Tax: Housing

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many estates in the UK inheritance tax was paid in each year since 1996. (319664)

The number of estates on which UK inheritance tax was paid is available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/tax_receipts/table1-4.xls

Inheritance Tax: Leeds

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue accrued to the Exchequer from inheritance tax on estates in Leeds, North-West constituency in the last five years. (319498)

The information is not currently available at constituency level. Inheritance tax data is based on a UK wide sample of cases which is designed to produce national level figures and the size of the sample means that HMRC cannot reliably estimate the number of taxpayers below a regional level.

Insurance: Buildings

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals to give the Financial Services Authority the power to consider cases of unreasonable buildings insurance premiums charged by freeholders of rented or leasehold property. (319671)

Remedies already exist for leaseholders to establish whether or not the insurance premium they are asked to pay or contribute towards by way of service charges is reasonable.

Where a leaseholder considers that a freeholder has overcharged in respect of the building insurance premium (or their contribution towards it), they have a right to take the case to a leasehold valuation tribunal for a determination of the reasonableness of the insurance.

Leave

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average number of contracted days' paid holiday was in the (a) public and (b) private sector on each industrial category in the most recent year for which information is available. (318634)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated March 2010:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what the average number of contracted days’ paid holiday was in the (a) public and (b) private sector by industrial category in the most recent year for which information is available. (318634)

The latest available estimates of average paid holiday entitlement per year are provided in the attached table. The estimates are derived from data collected in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in Q4 2009. The distinction between public and private sector is based on the respondent's understanding of the organisation for which they work.

As with any sample survey, the estimates provided are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Paid holiday entitlement for employees by sector. Three months ending December, 2009. United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted

Average paid holiday entitlement (days per year)1

Public Sector2 Total

29

Private Sector Total

21

Private Sector by main industry3 sector:

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

19

Energy and water

25

Manufacturing

22

Construction

21

Distribution, hotels and restaurants

18

Transport and communication

23

Banking, finance and other business services

22

Public administration, education and health

22

Other services

18

Total4

23

1 Excludes public holidays

2 Includes nationalised industry or state corporation, central Government, civil service, local government or council (incl. police, fire services and local authority controlled schools or colleges), university or other grant funded educational establishment, health authority or NHS trust and armed forces.

3 According to the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 1992.

4 Includes those whose type of employer was not known.

Source:

ONS Labour Force Survey

Non-Domestic Rates: Garages and Petrol Stations:

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many petrol retail stations were on the Valuation Office Agency's rating list in 1997; and how many there are on the 2010 rating list. (317803)

As the hon. Member will be aware, there have been some significant changes in the structure of petrol retailing over the past 15 years. Petrol filling stations in the 1995 rating lists were identified using Valuation Office Agency (VOA) Special Category (SCAT) code 222.

As at 1 April 1997 there were 11,870 in England and 1,050 in Wales.

In the draft 2010 rating lists petrol filling stations are under SCAT 209.

As at 2 November there were 5,650 in England and 440 in Wales.

Non-Domestic Rates: Retail Trade

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total rateable value is of hereditaments classified as retail properties; and for how many such properties the rateable value is (a) under £5,000, (b) between £5,000 and £14,999, (c) between £15,000 and £24,999, (d) between £25,000 and £49,999, (e) between £50,000 and £99,999, (f) between £100,000 and £499,999 and (g) at least £500,000. (316909)

[holding answer 22 February 2010]: The Valuation Office Agency identifies the various types of property contained in the rating lists by the use of a Specialist (SCAT) code.

These data are consistent with the statistical release titled: "Non-domestic Rateable Values: 2010 Local Ratings Lists—England and Wales", published on 18 December 2009. A copy of the statistical release is available at the following link:

http://www.voa.gov.uk/publications/statistical_releases/VOA_Statistics_Release_Final.pdf

Properties with a 'Retail' SCAT code of 021, 024, 086, 097, 098, 106, 139, 152, 154, 155, 210, 235, 243, 249, 251, 417, 425, 429, 442, 504, 507, 508

England

Wales

Total

Rateable value

Number hereditaments (Thousand)

Total rateable value (£ million)

Number hereditaments (Thousand)

Total rateable value (£ million)

Number. hereditaments (Thousand)

Total rateable value (£ million)

Below 5,000

142

447

12

35

154

482

Between 5,000 and 14,999

195

1,696

10

82

205

1,779

Between 15,000 and 24,999

52

988

2

45

54

1,033

Between 25,000 and 49,999

40

1,400

2

63

42

1,463

Between 50,000 and 99,999

22

1,543

1

69

23

1,613

Between 100,000 and 499,999

21

4,223

1

208

22

4,431

500,000 or over

4

4,458

0

204

4

4,662

Total

476

14,755

29

707

505

15,462

Pension Credit: Leeds

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pensioners resident in Leeds, North-West constituency have been contacted as part of his Department's pension credit tax back campaign. (319497)

As part of the Taxback campaign announced at Budget 2009, HM Revenue and Customs have contacted all 3.4 million beneficiaries of pension credit to encourage those who are overpaying tax on their bank and building society interest to claim it back and, where eligible, to register to receive future interest payments without tax deducted. The latest information on the number of pension credit beneficiaries (August 2009), shows that there were 3,680 beneficiaries in the Leeds, North-West parliamentary constituency.

Revenue and Customs: Surveillance

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) requests and (b) approvals for authorisation for HM Revenue and Customs to carry out (a) property interference, (b) intrusive surveillance and (c) covert human intelligence sources there have been in each of the last five years. (319632)

The Chief Surveillance Commissioner, Sir Christopher Rose, publishes a yearly figure for property interference, intrusive surveillance and covert human intelligence sources for all police forces and other agencies, including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in his annual report to Parliament. Sir Christopher does not break the figure into individual forces or agencies as the sensitivity of the information could lead to criminals assessing the covert capability of each force and agency. This applies equally to HMRC and it is therefore not considered to be in the public interest to make this information available.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the merits of restricting firms from using offshore companies to avoid stamp duty land tax. (319628)

Tax avoidance has the potential to damage the public finances and the provision of public services. HM Revenue and Customs monitors all aspects of tax avoidance closely on a continuous basis, advising Ministers accordingly.

Tax Allowances

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer in each financial year from 2010-11 to 2013-14 of introducing a transferable personal allowance, limited to the basic rate of income tax, for all married couples and couples in civil partnerships with children under the age of six; (312934)

(2) if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer in each financial year from 2010-11 to 2013-14 of introducing a transferable personal allowance, limited to the basic rate of income tax, for all married couples and couples in civil partnerships with children under the age of three;

(3) if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer in each financial year from 2010-11 to 2013-14 of introducing a transferable personal allowance, limited to the basic rate of income tax, for all couples with children under the age of six;

(4) if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer in each financial year from 2010-11 to 2013-14 of introducing a transferable personal allowance, limited to the basic rate of income tax, for all couples with children under the age of three.

(5) if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer in each financial year from 2010-11 to 2013-14 of introducing a transferable personal allowance, limited to the basic rate of income tax, for all married couples and couples in civil partnerships.

[holding answers 25 and 28 February 2010]: Due to the complex nature of these questions the following estimates should be treated with caution. These estimates exclude any behavioural response to the change, which could be significant given the magnitude of the change. This has the additional implication of limiting reliable modelling of costs to 2010-11.

The estimated cost in 2010-11 of allowing personal tax allowances to be transferable, limited to the basic rate of income tax, for the specified groups would be:

£0.6 billion for all couples with children under the age of three;

£1.0 billion for all couples with children under the age of six;

£0.5 billion for all married couples and couples in civil partnerships with children under the age of three;

£0.8 billion for all married couples and couples in civil partnerships with children under the age of six;

£4.2 billion for all married couples and couples in civil partnerships.

These estimates have been calculated using HM Treasury's tax and benefit micro-simulation model using Family Resources survey 2007-08 data.

Taxation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many self-assessment forms required clerical action in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008 and (d) 2009; and for what reasons a self-assessment case may require clerical action. (316950)

Information on the circumstances in which clerical action may be required on a self-assessment (SA) return is contained in Her Majesty Revenue and Customs' SA instruction manual, available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/SA/index.htm

The information requested on how many self-assessment returns required clerical action is available only at disproportionate cost as HMRC's systems do not capture this.

Taxation: Business

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the (a) number of companies which have taken up the three-year carry-back of losses option since its implementation and (b) monetary value of trading losses carried forward under section 393 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 in (i) 2007-08, (ii) 2008-09 and (iii) 2009-10. (319335)

In addition to the unincorporated businesses it has supported, HM Revenue and Customs estimated that approximately 11,000 companies have so far used the temporary extension of loss carry-back for trading losses from one year to three years for losses up to £50,000.

The information requested on the pools of trading losses carried forward are available only at disproportionate cost, as they are not directly available from the ‘C7 600 Company Self Assessment Return’.

Valuation Office Agency: Internet

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions the Valuation Office Agency's public website has been offline in the last 12 months. (319634)

The Valuation Office Agency's public website has had no unscheduled downtime in the last 12 months. It was offline for scheduled maintenance between 08:00 on 30 May 2009 to 18:00 on 31 May 2009 and 08:00 on 21 November 2009 to 18:00 on 22nd November 2009.

Valuation Office Agency: Manpower

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of the Valuation Office Agency's (a) staff and (b) council tax inspectors are (i) male and (ii) female. (319629)

The proportion of the Valuation Office Agency's staff who are male is 55 and 45 are female. Within the generic rating and council tax inspector role, 49 are male and 51 female. These figures are based on data as at 2 February 2010

Valuation Office Agency: North East

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Valuation Office Agency staff in offices in (a) the north-east and (b) north Lincolnshire worked on the separate rating of port businesses in each year since 1997. (319448)

The VOA does not keep records of the number of staff involved in the assessment of separate hereditaments within statutory ports going back to 1997. Staff involved in work on the ports undertake general rating work in other locations and work in other business streams.

VAT: Local Government

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 11 January 2010, Official Report, column 783W, on VAT: local government, how much was paid in value added tax refunds to local authorities consequent on judicial rulings in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09. (319643)

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) currently estimates that around £2 million was repaid in 2007-08 to local authorities and around £40 million in 2008-09 in respect of the judgment in Fleming/Conde Nast. HMRC does not routinely collect information on the overall level of refunds to local authorities as a result of litigation rulings.

Welfare Tax Credits: Aberdeenshire

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many individuals in Banff and Buchan constituency receive tax credits; and what the average weekly level of such credits was in the latest period for which figures are available. (319345)

The latest information on the number of households benefiting from tax credits, by each parliamentary constituency, is available in the HMRC snapshot publication “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Geographical Analyses. December 2009”, available:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-dec09.pdf

As incomes and entitlements for 2009-10 have yet to be finalised, equivalent information on the average weekly payment is not yet available. The latest information on the average annual payment of tax credits to households, by each parliamentary constituency, is available in the HMRC publication “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics Finalised annual awards. Geographical analyses 2007-08”, available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-payments-0708.pdf

Welfare Tax Credits: Glasgow

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in Glasgow North East constituency have received (a) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit since 2004. (319971)

The latest information on the number of households benefiting from tax credits, by each parliamentary constituency from 2003 to 2009, is available in the HMRC snapshot publication "Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Geographical Analyses", available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-stats.htm

The same information for 2008-09 is not yet available as awards have not yet been finalised. However, estimates of the number of recipient families with tax credits, based on provisional awards, as at 1 December 2009, are available in the HMRC snapshot publication “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Geographical analyses. December 2009”, at the same internet address.

HMRC do not produce these statistics separately for child tax credit and working tax credit.

Welfare Tax Credits: Na h-Eileanan an Iar

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were in receipt of tax credits in Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the average weekly payment in such credits was in that constituency in that period. (319018)

The latest information on the number of households benefiting from tax credits, by each parliamentary constituency, is available in the HMRC snapshot publication “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Geographical Analyses. December 2009”, available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-dec09.pdf

As incomes and entitlements for 2009-10 have yet to be finalised, equivalent information on the average weekly payment is not yet available. The latest available information on the average annual payment of tax credits to households, by each parliamentary constituency, is available in the HMRC publication “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics Finalised annual awards. Geographical analyses 2007-08”, available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-payments-0708.pdf

Work and Pensions

Carers’ Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what circumstances an asset owned by a carer in receipt of the carer's allowance may be disregarded for the purposes of an application for income support. (318143)

Carers are treated in the same way as other income support customers when considering the effect an asset has on income support.

Income support has a lower capital limit of £6,000 (or £10,000 for people permanently living in a care home) above which benefit is reduced and an upper limit of £16,000 above which benefit cannot be paid.

The value of most forms of capital, which includes savings and assets, is counted when calculating entitlement to income support; however, some forms of capital asset are disregarded. Income support rules on treatment of capital are extensive but the most common scenarios are covered as follows.

All personal possessions belonging to an income support customer are disregarded with the exception of those acquired by the customer with the intention of reducing savings in order to secure entitlement to, or increase the amount of, income support.

Certain forms of cash asset are disregarded when calculating entitlement to income support, for example, money derived from a personal injury compensation payment that is held in a trust fund. In addition certain other compensation payments are ignored such as payments to the customer made as a result of a person's imprisonment by the Japanese during the second world war and payments made to compensate for slave or forced labour during the second world war. Other types of cash asset can also be ignored, for example, certain lump sum payments for arrears of benefit and payments made by specific trusts and funds that have been set up in order to help people who have been infected by blood products.

No account is taken of the value of a property that a person occupies as their home, while the value of any second property is normally treated as capital. However, the Government do recognise that there are certain circumstances where it would be impractical and unfair to take the value of a second property into account. An example of this is that, once a property is put up for sale, the value can be ignored for up to 26 weeks, or longer where reasonable steps are being taken to sell it.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much her Department has allocated for the (a) procurement, (b) maintenance, (c) compliance testing and (d) security of information technology systems in 2010-11. (313375)

The information is not held centrally in the format requested and therefore cannot be provided.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many designs for its website her Department has commissioned since 2005. (318638)

The Department has commissioned one redesign for the DWP Corporate website since 2005. This redesign was launched in June 2009.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the proportion of staff of (a) her Department and (b) its agencies managed out in the last five years who remain working in the public sector. (313845)

The Department and its agencies do not hold information on the employment of former staff after they leave the Department and no estimate has been made of how many remain working in the public sector.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much of the additional £5 billion announced in (a) pre-Budget report 2008 and (b) the Budget 2009 has been allocated to (i) Jobcentre Plus, (ii) Flexible New Deal, (iii) the Future Jobs Fund, (iv) the Young Persons Guarantee, (v) the six month offer and (vi) other employment-related programmes; (309330)

(2) what estimate she has made of the underspend from planned budgets for the additional £5 billion announced in the (a) pre-Budget report 2008 and (b) Budget 2009 in respect of expenditure on (i) Jobcentre Plus, (ii) Flexible New Deal, (iii) the Future Jobs Fund, (iv) the Young Persons Guarantee, (v) the six month offer and (vi) other employment-related programmes;

(3) how much her Department has reallocated consequent on the rate of claimant unemployment at the time of Budget 2009; from what budgets that money has been reallocated; and to which budgets it has been transferred;

(4) how much of the additional £5 billion announced in the (a) pre-Budget report 2008 and (b) Budget 2009 has been spent.

In the pre-Budget report 2008, and Budget 2009, the Chancellor announced that additional investment of up to £5 billion discretionary spending would be made available as a response to the recession. The following table shows how this £5 billion was allocated:

£ million

pre-Budget report 2008

Budget 2009

Jobcentre Plus and other corporate expenditure

871

1,005

Employment Providers and Local Authorities (for the administration of Housing Benefit)

461

709

Six month offer

n/a

511

Future Jobs Fund and Young Person’s Guarantee

n/a

1,208

Support for Mortgage Interest

135

135

Of the £5 billion additional investment, £2.1 billion is allocated to 2009-10 and £2.9 billion to 2010-11. The precise allocation of this resource within the Department is set out in our three-year business plan, a copy of which is in the House of Commons Library.

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance at the end of 2009 was over 450,000 lower than the NAO audited assumption at the time of Budget 2009. If unemployment follows the revised NAO audited assumption set out in the pre-Budget report 2009, benefit expenditure would be around £10 billion lower over the next five years than forecast at Budget 2009. This has also led to savings from the Department’s budget and allows us to reprioritise £400 million over the next 18 months to fund the measures set out in “Building Britain's Recovery: Achieving Full Employment”.

The Department keeps financial allocations to its programmes under constant review and will publish updated budgets in the revised three-year business plan, which will be published before the end of the current financial year.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much her Department spent on (a) communications, (b) marketing, (c) advertising and (d) external public relations in 2009. (317162)

The DWP communications team has a wide-ranging remit to support the delivery of the Department's objectives. This includes communicating with staff, the public, business and stakeholders on the help and support available throughout the downturn, eligibility for entitlements, pensions, additional help and support as well as encouraging saving for later life. The team works right across the breadth of the Department's responsibilities and includes providing services for Jobcentre Plus and the Pensions, Disability and Carers Service.

Spend information is available for financial years rather than calendar years. Fully audited figures for spend on advertising for 2009-10 are not available at this time. Therefore data supplied is for the 2008-09 financial year.

During 2008-09 financial year a total of £42.283 million was spent by DWP on all communication services. This total covers the spend with external marketing and communication suppliers but does not include internal staff costs and any communications interim personnel. In addition a further £1.735 million was spent on marketing and publicity services through the Department's print and associated services contract with iON during the 2008-09 period. These figures are against overall DWP running costs in 2008-09 of £7.9 billion (0.56 per cent. of overall spend).

Included in this, DWP spent £12.327 million on advertising in this period. All costs are exclusive of VAT, COI fees, advertising rebates and audit adjustments and are for media spend only. They also exclude the cost of creative work, research, production of supporting materials or launch events.

Again, included in the overall figure was a total of £1.2 million was spent by DWP on external public relations during 2008-09.

Departmental Responsibilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of her Department's staff at each grade work in the benefit simplification unit; what targets have been set for the unit; what recent progress reports the unit has published; what recommendations the unit has made since its inception; and how many such recommendations have been implemented. (318794)

[holding answer 25 February 2010]: The benefit simplification unit has three full-time staff (one SEO and two HEOs) with additional input from a senior civil servant (grade 5) and a grade 7.

Their role is to challenge existing complexity across the benefits system, and to ensure that the move towards a simpler, more transparent system is at the heart of future benefit design and delivery.

Progress on simplification is reported on annually in the departmental report, and the effectiveness of the unit is reflected in the extent to which key performance indicators are met across the Department, where these indicators are partly dependent on the complexity of the system.

Simplification measures—both of benefit rules and ease of customer access—introduced since the unit was set up include:

ignoring all final earnings on new claims to benefit (from October 2007). This got rid of a complex and error-prone part of assessing initial benefit entitlement;

the national roll-out of local housing allowance (April 2008), a major shift in the way housing payments are made in the private rented sector which makes them simpler and speedier to administer;

the introduction of employment and support allowance (October 2008), removed confusion resulting from the availability of two benefits for people who are ill or disabled—incapacity benefit, and income support—by replacing them with one simpler benefit for this client group;

paying all working age benefits on a common payday (to be completed by April 2011) instead of confusingly different paydays;

extending the Rapid Reclaim process since the last claim for jobseeker's allowance and income support from 12 to 26 weeks, providing a speedier service, with less form-filling;

transferring all our benefit internet services to Directgov, the main public services website. Customers can now get advice on what to claim on the benefit adviser and track the progress of claims via the secure Benefit Enquiry service.

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate she has made of the proportion of benefit and pension claimants calling her Department's telephone inquiry lines from mobile telephones who are not to be charged for the cost of the call; and if she will make a statement. (317378)

The Department's policy is that all calls to claim the state pension, jobseekers’ allowance, employment support allowance as well as to ask for emergency payments or crisis loans, should be free. These 0800 numbers are already free from land lines, which around 70 per cent. of our callers use. The recent agreement with the five biggest UK mobile providers means that calls from their mobile phone networks to these specific 0800 numbers will now be free to their customers as well.

The Department uses 0845 telephone numbers where its customers call for other reasons, and these are calls that typically that take less time to resolve. The charges that apply to these calls will be set by the customer's telephone or mobile operator.

Where a customer calling our 0800 or 0845 services asks us, or raises concerns over the cost of the call, we will offer to call them back.

Employment and Support Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons 36 per cent. of employment support allowance cases conducted between October 2008 and February 2009 were closed before their assessment was completed. (318174)

A detailed breakdown of the information is not available.

There are many reasons why a claim may be closed before the assessment is complete, including people that only need to claim benefit for a short period of time due to a short-term illness or those who claim employment and support allowance completely in error.

As part of the evaluation of employment and support allowance we will be conducting research to examine in more detail those claims that are withdrawn before the assessment is completed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when she expects a system for the central holding of information relating to personal capability assessment and claims for incapacity benefit to be introduced. (318175)

We do not expect to develop a system that would track individuals claiming incapacity benefit through the assessment process. Incapacity benefit was replaced by employment support allowance for new claimants in October 2008 and systems have been put in place for the tracking of people who claim employment support allowance. We do not intend to put systems in place for retrospectively tracking the result of assessment for historical claims.

Employment and Support Allowance: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many and what proportion of applicants for employment and support allowance have been classified as disabled; (318287)

(2) how many and what proportion of applicants for employment and support allowance who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease have been classified as disabled;

(3) how many and what proportion of applicants for employment and support allowance who were previously in receipt of incapacity benefit have been classified as disabled;

(4) how many and what proportion of applicants for employment and support allowance who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and who were previously in receipt of incapacity benefit have been classified as disabled;

(5) what percentage of applicants for employment and support allowance diagnosed with fibromyalgia have been classified as disabled;

(6) what percentage of applicants for employment and support allowance diagnosed with fibromyalgia who had previously been in receipt of incapacity benefit have been classified as disabled.

The information is not available.

Information on whether a claimant is disabled or not is not recorded for the purposes of employment and support allowance.

Employment Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what job outcome evidence her Department has collected for (a) the day one offer, (b) the six month offer, (c) support for unemployed professionals and executives and (d) the Flexible New Deal since that scheme was introduced. (309339)

Information on job outcomes as a direct consequence of the day one offer, which includes support for unemployed professionals and executives, is not available.

The six month offer has a number of elements including the recruitment subsidy, self-employment credit, work-focused training and volunteering. Official statistics were published on 20 January 2010 which showed that between April 2009 and October 2009:

15,530 jobseeker’s allowance customers have used the recruitment subsidy;

5,310 jobseeker’s allowance customers have taken up the self- employment credit.

The first statistics on work-focused training were published on 17 February 2010. We are investigating the feasibility of reporting work-focused training job outcomes for future publications of six-month offer statistics. We are also looking into how we can calculate job outcomes for the volunteering offer as part of the official statistics publication.

The flexible new deal started on 5 October and official statistics will be available from autumn 2010.

Employment Schemes: Females

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department has taken to help new female claimants of jobseeker’s allowance to find long-term employment in the last 12 months. (313526)

All JSA customers are treated according to their individual circumstances, in keeping with a personalised and professional service and have the same access to the wide range of initiatives to help them return to work.

All departmental policies are subject to an Equality impact assessment and after implementation take up of programmes is monitored, including by gender, for further development of design and delivery.

Employment Schemes: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) in which (a) Jobcentre Plus districts, (b) local authorities and (c) constituencies Future Jobs Fund jobs are not available to young people as part of the young person's guarantee; (317615)

(2) in which (a) Jobcentre Plus districts, (b) local authorities and (c) constituencies not all of the elements of the young person's guarantee are available; and which such elements are (i) available and (ii) not available in each such area.

In principle the Young Person's Guarantee, including the Future Jobs Fund, is available in all Jobcentre Plus districts, in all local authorities and in all constituencies, dependent on there being successful bids in these areas. In Scotland and Wales the training element of the young person's guarantee is provided by the devolved Administrations.

Employment: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate her Department has made of the number of people seeking employment in the (a) engineering industry, (b) life sciences sector, (c) renewable energy industry and (d) construction industry in Scotland. (317737)

Future Jobs Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many accepted Future Jobs Fund bids were initially rejected. (304388)

Where bidding organisations fail to meet the Future Jobs Fund assessment criteria they are provided with feedback and offered further support from DWP, Jobcentre Plus and the Government Office network to enable them to improve and submit their bids. As a result of this process, so far, 38 of the initially rejected organisations have subsequently successful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many accepted Future Jobs Fund bids are expected to create fewer than 30 jobs. (304391)

A total of 272 bids to the Future Jobs Fund have been accepted, which will create up to 110,000 Future Jobs Fund jobs.

We encourage partnership bids but would not necessarily rule out bids for fewer than 30 jobs.

So far, 18 of the 272 accepted bids are expected to create fewer than 30 jobs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate has been made of the number of jobs each accepted Future Jobs Fund bid will create. (304392)

To date 255 bids have been successful and the Department for Work and Pensions has agreed to fund around 110,000 jobs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many social enterprises have participated in the Future Jobs Fund; (315107)

(2) how many jobs created under the Future Jobs Fund have been in (a) local authorities and (b) third sector organisations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) pursuant to the answer of 2 February 2010 to the hon. Member for South Dorset, Official Report, column 258W, on the Future Jobs Fund, of the jobs announced to date for which it is possible to ascertain the location, how many are expected to be created in each local authority area; (317646)

(2) how many of the jobs announced to date are expected to be created in each constituency.

Data on the Future Jobs Fund are not collected by local authority or by constituency, and as such the data of how many jobs are to be created in each are not available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many jobs in (a) the arts and (b) the media have been created under the Future Jobs Fund since its inception. (318595)

I have been asked to reply.

My Department is working closely with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and we have created more than 6,500 job opportunities in the culture and sports sectors under the Future Jobs Fund.

Incapacity Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate her Department has made of the (a) number and (b) proportion of current claimants of incapacity benefit who are not required to meet any conditions in order to continue to receive the benefit. (317945)

All recipients of incapacity benefits must meet the conditions of entitlement in order to qualify for benefit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of off-flows from incapacity benefit have been due to claimants moving into work in each year since 1997. (317946)

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the qualifying criteria are for industrial injuries disablement benefit for those with osteoarthritis of the knee. (318242)

In order to be entitled to industrial injuries disablement benefit (IIDB) in respect of osteoarthritis of the knee a person must satisfy criteria based on occupation and the level of disablement caused by the disease.

The occupational criteria are as follows:

Underground work as a coal miner up to the end of 1985.

If the work was after 1985, a person must have worked underground in one of the following occupations:

face worker working on a non-mechanised coal face; or

development worker; or

face-salvage worker; or

conveyor belt cleaner; or

conveyor belt attendant.

In total at least 10 years must be spent in the occupation. Pre- and post-1985 periods of employment in the relevant occupation can count towards the 10 year total.

If a person satisfies the occupational criteria the case is referred to medical services for advice on the level of disablement. For IIDB purposes, disablement is assessed by making a comparison with a person of the same age and sex whose physical and mental condition is normal. In each case, advice on the assessment of disablement and the likely duration is given by a doctor specially trained in industrial injuries disablement matters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by what means the proportion of disablement is determined for former miners making a claim for industrial injuries disablement benefit in respect of osteoarthritis of the knee. (318259)

The level of disablement for all customers who claim industrial injuries disablement benefit in respect of diseases and accidents caused by occupation is assessed as a percentage up to 100 per cent. The percentage determines the level of payment.

The customer will normally be asked to attend a medical examination carried out by a trained health care professional appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who will provide the decision-maker with advice on the level of disablement in each case, taking account of all the evidence available and comparing the customers condition as a result of the effects of the prescribed disease or accident with that of a normal healthy person of the same age and sex.

Jobcentre Plus: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much Jobcentre Plus in each region has spent on (a) redundancies and (b) recruitment in each month since January 2009; and if she will make a statement. (300692)

Jobseeker’s Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of jobseeker's allowance have been identified through the Labour Market System as being unemployed for 22 out of 24 months in the latest period for which figures are available. (317628)

The information from the Labour Market System is not currently available.

We are not able to provide alternative information for all current claimants from the jobseeker's allowance databases (rather than the Labour Market System) because this would involve complex data linking and analysis and would be possible only at a disproportionate cost.

New Deal for Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young people aged between 16 and 24 years old in (a) Chesterfield, (b) Derbyshire and (c) England have taken part in the New Deal for Lone Parents in each month since January 2005. (318768)

[holding answer 25 February 2010]: The information is in the following yearly table:

Chesterfield constituency

Derbyshire

England

2005

January

10

30

2,650

February

10

30

2,460

March

20

2,220

April

20

2,710

May

10

30

2,080

June

10

20

1,910

July

10

20

2,520

August

10

40

1,960

September

10

30

3,100

October

10

30

2,370

November

10

30

2,300

December

10

1,470

2006

January

10

2,140

February

20

2,230

March

30

2,530

April

10

1,450

May

20

1,620

June

10

1,870

July

10

1,470

August

10

20

1,420

September

20

2,170

October

10

1,740

November

10

1,850

December

10

1,430

2007

January

10

2,320

February

10

20

2,570

March

10

30

3,710

April

20

2,050

May

10

30

2,250

June

10

30

2,580

July

10

20

2,150

August

10

20

2,490

September

20

2,670

October

10

40

2,850

November

10

40

3,520

December

20

1,500

2008

January

20

2,630

February

10

40

3,650

March

20

2,380

April

10

30

2,650

May

10

20

2,990

June

10

30

2,660

July

10

30

2,560

August

20

3,020

September

10

30

3,160

October

10

40

3,560

November

20

2,350

December

10

20

1,290

2009

January

20

2,330

February

20

1,880

March

10

20

1,990

April

10

1,490

May

10

30

1,970

June

30

1,610

July

10

40

2,090

August

10

40

1,760

September

40

2,250

October

10

50

2,710

November

10

40

2,100

Notes:

1. Definitions and conventions: “—” denotes nil or negligible. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Westminster parliamentary constituency: allocated (post May 2005) using the ONS postcode directory and customer's postcode.

3. The county of Derbyshire includes the local authorities: Amber Valley, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Erewash, High Peak, North East Derbyshire, and South Derbyshire.

4. Time series—month of starting: the calendar month of starting New Deal for Lone Parents. The latest data are to November 2009.

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate

New Deal for Partners

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many partners in (a) Chesterfield, (b) Derbyshire and (c) England have taken part in the New Deal for Partners in each month since January 2005. (318767)

[holding answer 25 February 2010]: The information is in the following yearly table. The numbers are the numbers of people starting in the New Deal for Partners in each month. The figures are available up to November 2009 For the Chesterfield constituency, the figures are shown as Nil throughout, the tables, because of the standard downward roundings used in the Department's monthly data. Annual figures show that 50 people started in the New Deal for Partners in the five years from 2005 to 2009 inclusive.

Numbers of people starting on New Deal for Partners 2005 to November 2009

Chesterfield constituency

Derbyshire

England

2005

January

10

190

February

180

March

220

April

240

May

150

June

10

150

July

170

August

10

90

September

180

October

10

120

November

10

120

December

80

2006

January

120

February

10

160

March

10

200

April

10

110

May

10

130

June

150

July

120

August

10

110

September

130

October

110

November

10

160

December

10

150

2007

January

10

180

February

200

March

240

April

140

May

10

140

June

10

180

July

10

150

August

120

September

150

October

10

120

November

160

December

80

2008

January

10

160

February

180

March

120

April

130

May

150

June

10

150

July

180

August

130

September

190

October

200

November

10

170

December

70

2009

January

150

February

110

March

170

April

100

May

120

June

110

July

10

140

August

10

120

September

140

October

190

November

160

Notes:

1. Definitions and Conventions: "—" denotes Nil or negligible. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Westminster Parliamentary Constituency: allocated (post May 2005) using the ONS postcode directory and customer's postcode.

3. The County of Derbyshire includes the local authorities: Amber Valley, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Erewash, High Peak, North East Derbyshire, and South Derbyshire.

4. Time series - month of starting: the calendar month of starting New Deal for Partners. The latest data is to November 2009.

5. Spells are not available for New Deal for Partners so individual level data is used instead. This means that only the most recent entry to the New Deal for Partners is included.

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate

Pathways to Work

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will publish the latest cumulative performance data for Pathways to Work providers. (315718)

Pathways to Work: Feltham

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Feltham and Heston constituency have (a) started Pathways to Work and (b) made recorded job starts under Pathways to Work in each year since the inception of the programme; and how many of those who started a job remain in employment. (316663)

Pensioners: Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many pensioners resident in Stroud constituency were officially defined as poor in each year since 1997; (318979)

(2) what her most recent estimate is of the level of pensioner poverty in Stroud constituency; and what steps her Department has taken to assist those affected.

The Government use a basket of three key thresholds of income, after housing costs, to measure pensioner poverty. The most commonly used figures relate to those with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income, after housing costs.

Estimates of poverty, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the overall number of people in poverty at Government office region level. Therefore, information for the Stroud constituency is not available, though figures relating to the south-west Government office region are.

Three-year averages are used to report regional statistics as single-year estimates are subject to volatility. Figures are quoted to the nearest 100,000. The following table shows the number and percentage of pensioners in the south-west Government office region who have incomes below 60 per cent. of the contemporary median income:

Number and percentage of pensioners in the south-west Government office region with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median after housing costs

Number of pensioners

Percentage of pensioners

1997-98 to 1999-2000

300,000

28

1998-99 to 2000-01

300,000

26

1999-2000 to 2001-02

200,000

25

2000-01 to 2002-03

200,000

24

2001-02 to 2003-04

200,000

22

2002-03 to 2004-05

200,000

19

2003-04 to 2005-06

200,000

16

2004-05 to 2006-07

200,000

16

2005-06 to 2007-08

200,000

18

Notes:

1. Figures are published in the Households Below Average Incomes (HBAI) series for 2007-08, and are based on FES figures up to 1997-98, and on the FRS from 1998-99. Three sample years have been combined for regional statistics as single year estimates are subject to volatility.

2. Number of pensioners has been rounded to the nearest 100,000. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.

3. Changes between periods are calculated based on unrounded figures and therefore may differ from the difference between the rounded figures presented above.

The final row in this table, covering the three year period 2005-06 to 2007-08 is the most recent estimate of pensioner poverty in the south-west region produced in the Department.

Our strategy since 1997 has been to target help on the poorest pensioners while providing a solid foundation of support for all.

We have a good track record of reducing pensioner poverty. In 2007-08 there were 900,000 fewer pensioners in relative poverty than in 1998-99 (measured as below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income after housing costs). Today’s pensioners are less likely to be living in relative poverty after housing costs than the population as a whole.

In 1997, the poorest pensioners, who received Income Support, lived on around £69 a week (equivalent to £98 a week in today’s prices). Today pension credit ensures that no pensioner needs to live on less than £130 a week or £198.45 a week for couples). This represents an increase in income by almost a third in real terms. And many of those on pension credit will also be entitled to additional support through housing benefit and council tax benefit.

The Pension, Disability and Carers Service continue to promote take-up of benefits for those entitled. This involves data matching to identify entitled non-recipients, home visits for vulnerable customers, targeted local marketing and media campaigns, a simple claim process involving telephones as well as paper claims and ever closer working with partner organisations. The Department is also looking at innovative ways of using information that we already hold to make payments of pension credit more automatically to entitled non-recipients.

In the Pensions Act 2007, we made a commitment to continue to uprate the pension credit standard minimum guarantee at least in line with average earnings over the long-term. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has commented that without this, it is likely there would be significant increases in pensioner poverty in the future.

We have also made a commitment to re-link the uprating of the basic state pension to average earnings. Our objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, is to do this in 2012, but in any event by the end of the next Parliament at the latest. This will benefit almost 12 million pensioners.

Pensioners: Social Security Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department is taking to ensure that eligible pensioners receive their entitlement to (a) cold weather payments and (b) pension credit; and if she will make a statement. (319055)

The Government are committed to helping vulnerable customers to heat their homes during the cold weather, so we are continuing cold weather payments. These provide £25 towards eligible customers' heating costs during each consecutive seven-day period of very cold weather. There is no need to claim as eligible customers are paid automatically when payments are triggered in their area.

External communications, including media and web interviews and briefings for welfare organisations, focus on reassuring customers that they will get payments and do not need to make a claim. An online tool is available on the Directgov website where people can find out about eligibility and whether payments have been triggered in their area. There is also a leaflet, ‘The Social Fund’ which provides information.

The Government are also committed to reducing pensioner poverty and works hard to ensure pensioners are aware of pension credit. The claims process has been simplified and since November 2008 telephone claims for housing benefit and council tax benefit can be forwarded directly to the local authority.

Targeted take-up campaigns continue in selected regions to raise awareness and to encourage customers to apply. The campaign uses a range or methods including targeted direct mail, supported by sustained media coverage as well as community advertising.

When contacted, customer advisers in the Pension, Disability and Carers Service discuss pension credit with those who may be eligible and it also conducts around 13,000 home visits a week for vulnerable customers ensuring they are receiving the benefits they are entitled to.

Joint Working Partnerships have been established with all 203 primary-tier local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. These enable the Pension, Disability and Carers Service, local authorities and the voluntary sector to provide a single point of access to social care and benefit entitlement.

Self-employed

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have moved into self-employment under the six-month offer introduced on 6 April 2009; how many people have received the self-employment credit; how much has been spent in total on the self-employment credit; and what estimate she has made of the average cost of movement into self-employment under the offer. (316977)

[holding answer 22 February 2010]: Under the jobseeker’s allowance self-employment offer, there are two elements to the help we give people who want to move into self-employment or start a business—self-employment advice and support through our expert partners, and financial support for those leaving jobseeker’s allowance and becoming self-employed.

Between April and October 2009, 5,310 jobseeker’s allowance recipients have left benefit and claimed the self-employment credit as they moved into self-employment.

Total spend on the self-employment credit up to the end of October 2009 was £2,267,776 with a unit cost of up to a maximum of £800 per start (up to 16 weeks at £50 per week). The average cost is not available.

Snow and Ice

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the costs to her Department arising from the severe weather conditions in the period 4 January to 18 January 2010; and if she will make a statement. (313594)

The severe weather experienced between 4 and 18 January 2010 had no significant impact on the operations of the Department for Work and Pensions and JCP and consequently no such estimate has been made.

In addition, between 4 and 18 January, for Great Britain, an estimated 6.9 million cold weather payments worth an estimated £174 million were authorised.

Social Security Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much her Department has spent on (a) incapacity benefit, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) severe disablement allowance awarded on the basis of (i) drug or alcohol dependency and (ii) alcoholic liver disease in each year since 1997; (309342)

(2) how much her Department has spent on disability living allowance awarded on the basis of alcoholic liver disease in each year since 1997;

(3) how much her Department has spent on disability living allowance awarded on the basis of drug or alcohol dependency in each year since 1997;

(4) how many claimants received awards of (a) disability living allowance only, (b) incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance or severe disablement allowance only and (c) both disability living allowance and incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance or severe disablement allowance on the basis of alcoholic liver disease in each year since 1997;

(5) how many claimants received awards of disability living allowance on the basis of alcoholic liver disease in each year since 1997;

(6) how many claimants received awards of disability living allowance on the basis of drug or alcohol dependency in each year since 1997;

(7) how many claimants received awards of (a) disability living allowance only, (b) incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance or severe disablement allowance only and (c) both disability living allowance and incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance or severe disablement allowance on the basis of drug or alcohol dependency in each of the last 10 years.

Entitlement to incapacity benefits and disability living allowance is not dependent on a diagnosis or condition but relies instead on the effects that a person's condition has on their ability to carry out a number of everyday activities. The focus of the relevant medical assessment for incapacity benefits determines the extent to which these effects impact on a person, and benefit is only awarded after specific criteria are met. Similarly, entitlement to disability living allowance is not dependent on a diagnosis or condition but relies instead on the care and/or mobility needs arising.

Only the primary medical diagnosis written on a claimant's medical certificate is recorded for benefit purposes. However, many of those who claim benefit with a diagnosis of drug or alcohol dependency will also have other underlying medical conditions such as mental/psychiatric illness. Information on the cost and numbers of people on benefit who claim with a diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease is not available.

From 27 October 2008 we replaced incapacity benefits for new customers with the employment and support allowance and a revised medical assessment which focuses on what people can do, as well as what they cannot.

Medical conditions information for employment and support allowance is not yet available.

The available information has been placed in the Library. It should be noted however that this represents a subset of the total number of customers claiming these benefits who suffer from an alcohol or drug dependency

Social Security Benefits: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the number of claimants of (a) jobseeker's allowance, (b) income support, (c) incapacity benefit and (d) employment and support allowance who were alcohol mis-users in each of the last five years. (316765)

The information is not available. Alcohol misuse is a concern for the Government and work is currently under way within the Department for Work and Pensions to derive robust estimates of alcohol misuse amongst the benefit population.

Social Security Benefits: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance her Department has issued on the treatment in the benefits system of (a) current members of the armed forces, (b) spouses and immediate family members of members of the armed forces and (c) former members of the armed forces. (316487)

The Department for Work and Pensions and its executive agencies take into account an individual’s circumstances as a matter of course, including current and former service personnel and their families.

The Service Command Paper ‘The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans’ [Cm 7424] published in July 2008 contained a number of departmental commitments to further support service personnel families and former members of the armed forces. These included an agreement to use service medical board evidence when considering entitlement to Employment Support Allowance (supporting guidance was issued to Jobcentre Plus staff in October 2009) and the Department’s commitment to award Class 1 National Insurance Credits to spouses and civil partners of service personnel posted overseas with effect from April 2010. This will enable more members of service personnel families to qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and basic State Pension. Staff in my Department are currently working with colleagues in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Ministry of Defence to produce guidance on this for our staff and customers. This will include producing a customer fact sheet, providing advice to go into the packs given to members of Her Majesty’s forces when a posting outside the UK is about to end and making information, including the application form for the credits, available online via the Department for Work and Pensions and Ministry of Defence websites. The addresses are:

www.dwp.gov.uk

www.mod.uk

General guidance on the application and interpretation of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance rules for our Decision Makers can be found in the Decision Makers Guide. A copy of the Guide is available in the Library and on the Department for Work and Pensions’ website at:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/specialist-guides/decision-makers-guide/

Following the Home Office announcement last year that all Gurkhas who retired before 1 July 1997 with four years service would be able to settle in the UK, the Pension, Disability and Carers Service has been working with other Government Departments on plans for their arrival.

Internal guidance is being prepared for issue shortly to Pension, Disability and Carers Service staff to help them respond to the needs of ex-Gurkhas.

In the calculation of entitlement to housing benefit and council tax benefit, a mandatory £10 disregard of income from war pensions (war disablement pension, a pension to a war widow or war widower or a similar pension paid to a surviving civil partner), applies. In addition, local authorities have discretionary powers to disregard some or all of any income from war pensions, including service attributable pensions, once the mandatory disregard of £10 has been made. It is a matter for each authority to decide the extent to which they apply the additional disregard. We have recently issued guidance clarifying that service attributable pensions fall to be disregarded under the discretionary powers.

Social Security Benefits: Departmental Coordination

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what additional processing work attributable to the recession which has fallen to her Department is being undertaken with the assista