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Jobcentre Plus

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training front-line staff of Jobcentre Plus receive on working with clients with mental health problems. [20782]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: All staff working in the Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices work through an open learning module on disability awareness. This covers different types of disabilities including mental health. We are also developing a two-day trainer-led event for front line Jobcentre Plus staff. This includes information on working with customers with mental health conditions provided by The Mental Health Foundation. Our training provision also makes use of a video from the Employers' Forum on Disability.

New Deal

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 28 November 2001, Official Report, column 901W, on the new deal, to the hon. hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Mr. Shaw) how many of the new deal starts in his Department resulted in sustained employment for the person concerned in the Department; if he will give a breakdown of these starts by branch of the new deal; and how many of the starts in other Government Departments resulted in sustained employment for the person concerned in the Department in question. [21267]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: This information is not collected centrally for all of the Department and its agencies, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, in the Employment Service (ES) up to October 2001, of the 768 people taken on under the new deal for young

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people and new deal 25 plus, 284 have gained permanent employment with the ES and a further 87 have found permanent employment outside the ES.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are employed by the Department under the new deal for young people; and at what cost to public funds. [21312]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Information follows on the number of people employed by the Employment Service under the new deal for young people. Information for the rest of the Department is not collected centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

New deal recruits take up existing vacancies so extra costs are limited to the subsidy, where appropriate, and any additional training and development which may be needed. The cost of the latter cannot be readily identified.

Up to October 2001, the Employment Service had recruited 688 people under new deal for young people. The subsidy had been claimed for 562 of these at a cost of approximately £1.3 million. The Employment Service has also taken on 2,254 new deal jobseekers under its normal recruitment processes. This figure includes people on new deal for young people and new deal 25 plus and cannot be broken down. These recruits have been treated the same way as other employees and have generated no extra costs to public funds.

Wirral Young Carers Project

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to pay Wirral Young Carers group the money from the European Social Fund applied for in 2000. [21407]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Payment in respect of the Wirral Young Carers project will be progressed as quickly as possible when an application for an advance claim is received from Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

Maternity Allowance

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Glasgow receive the sure start maternity grant. [21666]

Malcolm Wicks: The information is in the table:

Benefits Agency DistrictNumber of sure start maternity grants made between 27 March 2000(15) and 31 October 2001
Glasgow East1,250
Glasgow North1,735
Glasgow South2,380

(15) Sure start maternity grants replaced the social fund maternity payment for any child born or adopted on or after 11 June 2000 at the rate of £200 for each child. 27 March 2000 is the earliest date on which a claim for a sure start maternity grant could be made.


1. The payments were raised to £300 from 18 September 2000 and the rate is set to increase again to £500 in 2002.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest five


Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management System

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Maternity Pay

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much small employers will be able to recover for the statutory maternity pay they pay out from 6 April 2002. [24995]

Malcolm Wicks: Currently small employers whose gross national insurance payments in a tax year are £20,000 or less (the small employers relief threshold) can recover 100 per cent. of the Statutory Maternity Pay they pay out plus an additional amount, currently 5 per cent., in compensation for the employers share of national insurance contributions due on SMP payments. The compensation rate is reviewed each year based on a formula which compares the employers' share of national insurance paid on SMP with the total amount of SMP paid by all employers.

From 6 April 2002 the threshold is being doubled to £40,000. This will mean that an additional 10,000 employers a year will qualify and in all around 60 per cent. of all employers paying SMP in a year will get full reimbursement. At the same time the additional compensation rate is being amended to 4.5 per cent. in line with the estimates made of SMP due to be paid and employers' national insurance costs on those payments from April 2002. Regulations will shortly be laid to achieve these changes.

Disability Rights Task Force

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proposals have been made by the Disability Rights Task Force; and how they will be implemented. [21808]

Maria Eagle: The Disability Rights Task Force issued two reports. The first was on a Disability Rights Commission, which we established in April 2000. The second was on comprehensive civil rights, on which we published our response, "Towards Inclusion", in March 2001. Copies of "Towards Inclusion" are available in the Library.

Departmental Staff (Home Working)

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to encourage staff to work from home; and how many staff do so on a regular basis. [21828]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Department for Work and Pensions is committed to the Work-Life balance of its staff. A range of flexible working patterns including part time working, job sharing and homeworking is available to staff by agreement with their management. The flexibility to work at home is most frequently used on an ad-hoc basis, but there are individuals who have homeworking as a regular part of their working pattern. The Department is currently looking at ways in which data on the number of people taking up the flexibility can be captured.

The Department for Work and Pensions publicises its policy on flexible working and encourages managers to respond positively to requests as part of their commitment to the diversity agenda. Although the current disparate IT systems allow varying degrees of access to systems at the office, the Department is developing IT infrastructures,

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complete with the necessary security measures that will in the future allow more flexible and widespread access to office IT systems from home.

Departmental Spending

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills of 3 December 2001, Official Report, column 81W, on departmental underspend, how he intends to spend the money transferred to his Department from underspend in the Department for Education and Skills in financial year 2000–01. [22777]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Of the £326 million, £220 million is ring fenced for European Structural Funds and was included in Department's Estimate at the Winter Supplementary. The Remaining £106 million was available end year flexibility within the Employment Opportunities Fund.

The Department has included £52.6 million in its estimate at the Winter Supplementary; this has been allocated to the new deal programmes. DfES has included £40 million in their estimate at the winter supplementary and allocated it to new deal for Schools. Any further draw down will need to be agreed with the Treasury.

Winter Fuel Allowance (Battersea)

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in Battersea will receive the £200 winter fuel allowance this winter. [22943]

Mr. McCartney: Winter fuel payments are made to most people aged 60 and over, regardless of whether they receive a state retirement pension. The rate is either £200 or £100, depending on whether the person lives alone or with another eligible person. Around 10,400 people in Battersea received a winter fuel payment last year and, of these, around 6,800 received a payment at £200. We expect the figures for this year to be similar.

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