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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to encourage an increased number of foster carers. [71071]

Jacqui Smith: Foster carer recruitment is a very important area, in which a lot of work is being taken forward. The Department is currently undertaking a major review ("Choice Protects") of the commissioning of placements, with a special emphasis on foster care

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services—so that choice and stability of placements may be improved for children in care. Within this, we will be examining:

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many assessments of carer needs have been carried out, broken down by carer age groups, since the introduction of the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000. [71039]

Jacqui Smith: This information is currently being collated and will be published in late autumn as part of "Community Care Statistics 2001–02: Referrals, Assessments and Packages of Care, for Adults".

Climbié Inquiry

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will produce a timetable for the publication of findings from the Climbié Inquiry. [71092]

Jacqui Smith: Lord Laming continues to receive and to consider evidence, and intends to complete his report later this year. It will be published, following its receipt by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Health and the Home Department, and will be made widely available.

Social Workers

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many extra social workers are in training as a result of the Government's campaign to increase the number of social workers. [71072]

Jacqui Smith: The main aim of the social care recruitment campaign is to raise the number of people applying for social work training by 5,000 by 2004. As the earliest that someone reacting to the campaign could join a course is autumn 2002, we do not yet have any information on numbers of extra social workers in training. These figures will be published in December 2002 by the social work admissions service.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the conclusions were of the review of milk tokens for pregnant women in asylum-seeking families; and what changes he plans to make. [42952]

Ms Blears: The review of the welfare food scheme did not look specifically at pregnant women in asylum seeking families. Pregnant women who receive certain social security benefits (income support or an income- based jobseeker's allowance) are entitled to receive milk tokens. Pregnant women who do not receive social security benefits are supported by the national asylum support service.

Careers Information

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average response time is between

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prospective NHS employees registering online for information on careers in the national health service and subsequently receiving information; and what guidelines he has issued. [71091]

Mr. Hutton: The national health service careers service was established in April 1999 by the Department to provide accurate and up-to-date information on careers throughout the NHS. It has a website through which publications can be ordered.

It is not possible to give the average response time between ordering and receipt of publications as we do not know when the requested items are received.

The service level agreement for responding to online requests sets out that at least 95 per cent. of the requests must be sent out within 48 hours. The requested items are posted second class.

Premature Retirement

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS staff, broken down by employment type, are expected to take premature retirement during 2002–03. [56280]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 14 May 2002]: Premature retirement is one of the factors that make up overall wastage from the national health service work force. Wastage is taken into account in the Department's modelling but is not broken down into its component parts.

Regional Wage Differentials

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ensure that regional wage differentials are reflected in the funding of the national health service. [68891]

Mr. Hutton: Allocations made to the national health service already take account of differential regional staffing costs. The weighted capitation formula used to calculate health authority target shares of revenue allocations includes a staff market forces factor. The aim of the staff market forces factor is to reflect the unavoidable geographical variation in staff costs that NHS employers incur.

In addition for 2002–03 a further £101 million was allocated to the high cost areas of London and the South of England to fund cost of living supplements for qualified nurses and some allied health professionals.

Future arrangements are being kept under review and will take account of the outcome of the negotiations on a new NHS pay system.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will answer the question from the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South of 15 May, reference number 56711, on financial assistance to nurses; and if he will make a statement. [65750]

Mr. Hutton: I replied to the hon. Member on 8 July 2002, Official Report, column 777W.

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Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the holding reply dated 1 July to written question 291 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, when he intends to reply to the letter from the right hon. Member dated 23 May with regard to Mr. J. Greenhalgh. [70348]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

I will be replying, in light of the Chancellor's Spending Review statement, shortly.


External Consultants

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much expenditure his Department has incurred in each year since 1997 on employing external consultants to deal with the press and public relations of his Department. [59494]

Beverley Hughes: The total expenditure incurred by the Home Department since 1997 on employing external consultants to deal with the press and public relations of the Department is as follows:

YearExpenditure (£)

These costs include the modernisation of the Home Office Press Office to provide a better service to journalists, the launch of the Police Recruitment Campaign, the establishment of the Home Office website and the launch of the Child Protection on the internet campaign.

Public-private Partnerships (Consultants)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total external spending by his Department was on public- private partnership consultants in each of the last four years; how many full-time equivalent consultants were employed over this period; how many billed consultancy days there were per year; what the implied average cost of each PPP consultant was; how many consultancy firms were used by his Department over this period; and if he will make a statement. [43187]

Beverley Hughes: The information requested is not available in the format requested. To provide the hon. Member with a full answer would incur disproportionate cost. I can, however, provide information detailing total spend on consultancy work on public- private partnerships (PPPs) in each of the last four years and also the number of consultancy firms used by the Home Office and its agencies on PPP projects over this period. This is as follows:

Total spend on PPP consultants:

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Number of consultancy firms used by the Home Department on PPP projects:

The increase in expenditure is largely due to two projects, firstly the setting up of the Criminal Records Bureau and secondly various business change services relating to Immigration and Nationality Department's programme to enable the improvement of case management.


Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the estimated (a) level and (b) cost of energy use in his Department and associated agencies was in each year since 1997; what proportion of energy was generated from renewable sources; and if he will make a statement. [65948]

Beverley Hughes: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend, the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth on 3 July 2002, Official Report, column 385W.

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