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Benefits Agencies

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on proposals to remove protective screens from Benefits Agencies in the Teesside area; what consultation was carried out with Benefits Agency staff in Teesside about proposals to remove protective screens from Benefits Agencies; if he will make a statement on (a) recent and (b) possible future strike action taken by Benefits Agency staff in Teesside in protest at the removal of screens from benefits agencies; and what precautions will be taken to protect the safety of Benefits Agency staff concerned about dealing with violent or disturbed customers in the event that protective screens are removed from Benefits Agencies. [25443]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Benefits Agency and Employment Service will cease operations from 1 April 2002. They will be replaced by two new organisations—Jobcentre Plus (for people of working age) and the Pension Service. There are no plans to remove protective screens from Benefits Agency offices in Teesside, during the remaining life of the Benefits Agency.

There are 56 Pathfinder offices for Jobcentre Plus already in operation, operating within 16 clusters. None are in the Teesside area. These new-style Pathfinder Jobcentre Plus offices are predominantly unscreened though each cluster of Pathfinder offices retains at least one screened area or office to handle transactions or customers known to present a significant risk. The reaction of staff and customers to the new offices has been overwhelmingly positive and the level of recorded incidents of unacceptable behaviour extremely low. New-style Jobcentre Plus offices will be rolled out nationwide over the next four years though no decisions have yet been taken as to when offices in Teesside will be redesigned. As part of the implementation of the new style Jobcentre Plus offices, trade unions and staff will be consulted on delivery plans and safety arrangements and full risk assessments will be undertaken in each office as has been the case in the Pathfinder offices which are already open.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has regrettably taken strike action against plans to deliver Jobcentre Plus services from a predominantly unscreened environment. PCS asked their members in the Benefits Agency field organisation and the Employment Service to take strike action on 12 and 13 December 2001. In Teesside all Benefits Agency and Employment Service offices remained open to the public on these days.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of man-hours his Department has lost as a result of the industrial action by the PCS Union. [25228]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Of our 100,000 staff, some 28,000 took strike action for two days in December. In the Pathfinder offices some 28 per cent. are on strike (on 85 per cent. strike pay).

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As a result, approximately 1.1 million staff hours have been lost up to and including 17 December 2001. The staff hours lost represents some 2.2 per cent. of the total hours expected to be worked.

New Deal (Publicity Costs)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the breakdown of the costs of the publicity campaign for the new deal for lone parents. [18979]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: A breakdown of costs is available only for the last financial year 2000–01 which was £2,292,000 advertising and media and £295,000 other costs.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much his Department has spent in the last 12 months on (a) television advertisements, (b) radio advertisements, (c) newspaper advertisements, (d) internet advertisements and (e) leaflets or pamphlets relating to the promotion of the 50-plus; [18052]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Information is not available in the format requested and it would involve disproportionate cost to answer.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much of his Department's budget for the next 12 months has been allocated to promotion of (a) the new deal 50-plus, (b) the new deal for disabled people, (c) the new deal for lone parents, (d) the new deal for the long-term unemployed and (e) the new deal for young people. [18039]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: In the current financial year the following sums have been allocated to the new deal programmes.

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ProgrammeAllocation (£ million)
New deal 50-plus1
New deal for disabled people1.12
New deal 25 plus0.938
New deal 18–242
New deal for lone parents2.03

Allocations for the financial year 2002–03 have not yet been made.

Departmental Spending

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total expenditure was on (a) advertising, (b) polling, (c) focus groups, (d) design consultants, (e) caterers, (f) production of departmental publications and (g) photographs/photographers by his Department for each year since 1995 in (i) cash and (ii) real terms; what was (A) the annual percentage increase in spending on each category and (B) spending on each category as a percentage of the total departmental running costs; and if he will make a statement. [6918]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is not available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Debt Recovery

Mr. MacDonald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement about the centralisation of debt recovery within his Department. [33184]

Malcolm Wicks: As part of our modernisation programme, we will be creating 10 centres across the country dedicated to the management and recovery of all overpayments. This will enable the current work, processed at 127 sites across the country, to be consolidated. Approximately 1,800 staff in total will be trained and dedicated to this complex but important area of work, providing an enhanced service for both claimants and the taxpayer.

The centres, which will use existing DWP staff an infrastructure where possible, will be based in Chorlton, Porth, Stornoway, Nuneaton, Ashton in Makerfield, Corby, Glasgow, Dearne Valley, Bradford and Salford.

The first debt centre will be operational from March 2002 at Chorlton, Manchester. The remainder will be on stream over the period to March 2005.


Listed Buildings

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to strengthen the role of English Heritage in protecting listed buildings; and if she will make a statement. [25965]

Dr. Howells: As stated in the Government's recent policy statement "The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future" (December 2001) the Government remain firmly committed to the maintenance of an effective

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framework of statutory protection for all elements of the historic environment. As part of the review of the planning system proposed in the Government's Green Paper, "Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change", the Government will consider the role that English Heritage plays in advising local planning authorities on matters affecting listed buildings.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many listed buildings there are in (a) the Buckingham constituency and (b) Buckinghamshire; if she will list them; and how much funding has been provided to assist in their conservation in each of the last five years. [30047]

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Dr. Howells: No information is held centrally on the number of buildings of special architectural or historic interest on the statutory list broken down by county or parliamentary constituency. The statutory list for the five districts of Buckinghamshire, including Aylsebury Vale (the area of the former borough of Buckingham), is available for inspection at my Department, at the National Monuments Record Library, and at each of the relevant local authorities.

The following table shows the grants which English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have allocated to Buckinghamshire in each of the last five years for the conservation of listed buildings in that county.


English Heritage (Secular)3741955804861451780
English Heritage (Places of Worship)1271991094222761133
English Heritage (Conservation Partnership Schemes/ Heritage Economic Regeneration Schemes)000000
Sub-total (English Heritage)5013946899084212913
Heritage Lottery Fund805,0283463535735


Figures rounded up to nearest £1,000

Comparable figures for English Heritage grants in the Buckingham constituency alone are not readily available and their accrual would be possible only at disproportionate cost. Heritage Lottery Grant figures for the Buckingham constituency are available, however, and are shown in the table.


Heritage lottery fund


Figures rounded up to nearest £1,000

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