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Employer Direct

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 22 November 2001, Official Report, column 43W, on call centre services, what the expected cost is of the Employer Direct modernisation programme in years (a) six, (b) seven and (c) eight of the eight year contract. [30128]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Employer Direct is part of the overall investment in modernisation and service improvement by the employment service. The different elements are all interdependent and it is not therefore possible to separate the cost of Employer Direct. The modernisation programme is being delivered under an eight-year contract costing £816 million in total and

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£346 million over years six, seven and eight of the contract. These costs include the existing services already provided to the employment service by the contractor.

StepUp Programme

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the StepUp Programme announced on 28 November 2001; what progress it has made; and what plans there are to extend it to the whole of the United Kingdom. [29842]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 28 January 2002]: StepUp, which will be launched in April, builds on the llNew Deals by providing transitional jobs to act as a stepping stone for long-term unemployed people moving from benefits into work.

Officials are currently working on the detail of the pilots in readiness for the April launch. The first six StepUp pilots will start in April in parts of Cardiff, East Ayrshire, Lambeth, Oldham, Sheffield and Sunderland. A further 14 pilots, including one in Coventry, South, will start throughout the rest of the year. We will thoroughly evaluate the pilots before any decision is taken about a national roll-out of StepUp.

Disabled People

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent measures he has taken to increase opportunities for disabled persons seeking employment. [28923]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: We have introduced a range of measures to help people with disabilities secure work where they are ready and able to do so.

Our new deal for disabled people pilots helped over 8,200 disabled people into work. Building on that success we now have in place a national network of job brokers.

We are making work possible for people with disabilities by removing benefit barriers and allowing people to take part in work trials and work placements. We are making work pay through the disabled person's tax credit and the national minimum wage.

Jobcentre Plus offers disabled people making new or repeat claims to benefit work-focused meetings with a personal adviser so as to ensure they are aware of the help and opportunities available to them.

From autumn this year we are introducing the job retention and rehabilitation pilot. It will test how making better co-ordinated, earlier health or employment interventions can help people stay in work and off benefits.

Jobcentre Plus

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had on developing an environment less conducive to confrontation in Jobcentre Plus offices; what provision for staff safety has been made other than the presence of security guards; and if he will make a statement. [28136]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 24 January 2002]: The process of designing the new Jobcentre Plus service has focused on creating an environment that offers improved customer services, more pleasant working conditions and enhanced staff safety.

In designing both office layout and the service experienced by customers, the emphasis has been on eliminating the waiting times, queueing and referrals between offices, which can cause customer frustration and, very occasionally, confrontation. Evidence from the ONE pilots and from other countries suggests that such an approach has a direct and positive bearing on levels of disruptive customer behaviour.

The new model of service being delivered in Jobcentre Plus offices involves increased telephone contact facilities, booked appointments, dedicated floor managers in every office, nominated personal advisers, swifter benefit assessment while customers look for work and a major investment in IT to help in the jobsearch process.

Full risk assessments have been carried out in every Jobcentre Plus office and all of their individual recommendations implemented. In addition to security guards, where these have been recommended, safety measures implemented as a result of risk assessments include installation of closed circuit TV cameras and monitors, provision of discrete safety alarm systems, controlled segregation of staff areas via coded door locks and design of office layout to maximise safety.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to review staff safety issues at Jobcentre Plus offices; and if he will make a statement. [28135]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The importance of ensuring staff safety has underpinned the development of Jobcentre Plus at every stage. The improved customer services and environment of the new offices are both designed to reduce frustration among the small number of potentially aggressive customers. This has been underpinned by substantial investment in enhanced security measures such as CCTV, safety alarms and an improved security guard specification.

Full risk assessments were carried out in every office before the service opened to the public in October. Enhanced security measures identified as necessary by those assessments were implemented without exception.

All of the initial risk assessments are now being individually reviewed to take into account each office's experience of delivering the new service in practice and any additional recommendations will be implemented in full.

Performance Standards

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what performance standards he has set his Department and its agencies for 2002–03. [27763]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Performance Standards for 2002–03 will be announced shortly.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many persons convicted of

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benefit offences have received (a) custodial sentences, (b) community sentences and (c) other sentences since 1997. [27692]

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Malcolm Wicks: The requested information is not available in respect of housing benefit fraud.

The available information is in the table.

Sentences on successful prosecution following investigations by the Benefit Fraud Investigation Service and Benefits Agency Security Investigation Service

Custodial sentences(31)Community sentences(32)Other sentences(33)DeportationTotal sentences


1. Imprisonment, Young Offenders Institute, Custodial and Fine

2. Community Service

3. Conditional Discharge, Compensation only, Admonishment, Fined, Probation, Supervision Order, Imprisonment suspended, Attendance Centre, Custodial (suspended) and fine, Other

Urban Regeneration

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what schemes targeting urban regeneration needs are managed by his Department; how much each scheme has available to invest nationally; what issues each scheme aims to tackle; and how much has been spent annually since 1997 (a) nationally, (b) in Teesside, (c) in Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough councils and (d) in the Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East constituency. [25475]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: All the programmes run by the Department contribute to the Government's overarching commitment to provide employment opportunity for all, to tackle social exclusion and poverty and to improve economic growth in urban and other areas. Action Teams for Jobs and Employment Zones are two specific initiatives that operate in predominantly urban areas of high unemployment. For information about these initiatives, nationally, in Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and in the Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East constituency, I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to him on 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 359W.

There is also an Action Team in Stockton-on-Tees. This started work in October 2000 and in its first year of operation engaged 799 clients and helped 457 of them into work. The team is now operating in the following wards in the Stockton-on-Tees local authority area: Charltons; Grange; Hardwick; Marsh House; Mile House; Newtown; Northfield; Parkfield; Portrack and Tilery; Roseworth; St. Aidan's; St. Cuthbert's and Wolviston. It has been allocated £1.475 million for the period October 2001-March 2004.

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