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Supported Employment

Valerie Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which disability-specific national programmes his Department is funding for supported employment; and what plans he has to fund a national supported employment programme for people with autism and Asperger Syndrome. [77282]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: WORKSTEP is a national supported employment programme for disabled people who have complex barriers to finding and keeping work. The programme is not specific to any one disability but instead is designed to help all disabled people meeting the criteria to work in a supportive environment and, where possible, to progress in mainstream employment.

In addition, Disability Employment Advisers based in Jobcentres work with local employers to place people into jobs, making use of other specialist programmes such as Access to Work where necessary. These arrangements have enabled people with many different disability-related barriers to work, including those with autism and Asperger syndrome, to move successfully into jobs.

Stakeholder Pensions

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make a statement on the take up of stakeholder pensions. [78222]

Mr. McCartney: Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that up to the end of June 2002 1,011,934 stakeholder pensions had been sold. A detailed breakdown of sales will not be available until next year. Sales of over a million in their first 15 months on the market represents a very encouraging start.

In addition the ABI figures show that 330,296 employers had designated a scheme for their workforce. This means more people have the chance to save for a decent income in retirement through the workplace.

The ABI said that stakeholder pensions have also had a wider beneficial effect on pension provision by helping to increase the size of the overall pensions market. Stakeholder pensions have driven down other personal pension charges, some employers have widened access to their occupational pension schemes and other employers have set up group personal pensions with an employer contribution.

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Special Advisers

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on how many occasions between 31 March 2001 and 31 March 2002 (a) departmental and (b) non-departmental special advisers have travelled abroad in an official capacity; what places were visited; and how much each visit cost. [80359]

Mr. McCartney: None.

Public Consultations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what public consultations have been commenced by his Department in each month since 10 June; and what the (a) start date (b) closing date and (c) website address of each were. [80277]

Mr. McCartney: Since 10 June 2002 the Department for Work and Pensions has commenced one public consultation entitled the Social Security Advisory Committee Review.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 28 October 2002, Official Report, column 632W, on post offices, what alternative methods he is assessing to pay benefit recipients who cannot be paid directly into an account. [79925]

Malcolm Wicks: Work is currently underway to identify an alternative for those people who cannot be paid directly into an account. We will ensure that the method introduced will be secure, efficient and available from outlets including Post Offices.

Jobcentre Plus Staff (Assaults)

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the latest quarterly figures are for incidents of violence against staff in Job Centre Plus offices. [79070]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding reply 4 November 2002]: We estimate that during the period July to September 2002 over 10 million callers visited Jobcentre Plus offices. The number of recorded assaults (excluding incidents of verbal abuse) in Jobcentre Plus offices during this period are shown in the table. The figures show a decrease on the previous quarter's statistics.

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Actual AssaultsAttempted Assaults
April to June 200292191
July to September 200286154

These figures include all offices within the Jobcentre Plus network including Jobcentres, Social Security Offices and newly integrated Jobcentre Plus Offices.

Outset Ltd

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what process he went through to satisfy himself of the solvency and fitness for purpose of the company Outset Ltd before it was contracted to deliver services to disabled people in the Bedfordshire area under New Deal; whether he has investigated its liquidation; and whether he intends to compensate disabled people who may have suffered loss through its failure. [79256]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding reply 4 November 2002]: In line with standard procurement processes, an assessment of the legal status and financial capacity of Outset Limited was made prior to the awarding of a contract. The information provided by Outset was assessed by a panel comprising a range of officials and external stakeholders, including professionally qualified procurement staff, qualified accountancy staff and representatives of disability organisations. The process was audited by independent consultants.

It is not within this Department's remit to investigate the company's liquidation, although Jobcentre Plus officials have been in discussion with the Official Receiver regarding its effect on the New Deal for Disabled People.

Those people registered for New Deal help with Outset have been offered alternative provision that fully replaces the support that they were formerly receiving. In addition, officials are also addressing, on an individual basis as they are raised, concerns of those who were receiving other forms of provision delivered by Outset.

Pensioner Poverty

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of projected pensioner poverty. [79766]

Mr. McCartney: We are committed to tackling poverty and social exclusion among older people. The Government are spending an extra #6 billion a year in real terms on pensioners as a result of policies introduced since 1997. This includes #2½ billion more on the poorest third of pensioners.

Our annual Opportunity for all reports monitor progress against a range of indicators of the many different aspects of poverty and social exclusion affecting older peoples' lives.

Home Energy Efficiency Scheme

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost would be of extending the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme to Families with disabled children. [78646]

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Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

To qualify for a grant under the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, now marketed as Warm Front Team, the householder or their spouse must be in receipt of a qualifying income or disability related benefit. Householders in Receipt of the Disability Living Allowance are currently entitled to assistance up to the value of #1500. There are currently over 241,000 recipients of Disability Living Allowance aged under 16. If Warm Front was extended to include this group, allowing for a 100 per cent. take up the extra cost to the scheme would be over #361 million.

Warm Front is aimed at householders on low income. We believe that receipt of benefit is the best mechanism with which to assess the ability of the householder or their spouse to be able to afford to keep their home warm at a reasonable cost. We realise that this is a difficult issue, whatever the cut-off point, there will always be those who just miss out, but we must take a decision in order to ensure the most effective possible use of the available resources.

Radiation Exposure

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Works and Pension, what the maximum permitted levels of radiation exposure are for (a) workers in the nuclear industry and (b) members of the public; and how many times these have been exceeded in each of the last 20 years. [77643]

Mr. Wilson: I have been asked to reply.

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) set the limit on effective dose for radiation exposure of any employee of 18 years and above as 20 millisieverts (mSv) in any calendar year. The limit on effective dose for radiation exposure of any member of the public is 1 millisievert in any calendar year.

IRR99 came into force on 1 January 2000. The previous annual limits were set out in the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1985 (IRR85) that came into force on 1 January 1986, and were 50 millisieverts for employees and 5 millisieverts for members of the public.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not hold details in a readily accessible form of the number of cases where it has been notified that the statutory limits have been exceeded in respect of all nuclear workers. The following data have been drawn from the HSE's national database of occupational exposure to ionising radiation—the Central Index of Dose Information (CIDI).

YearNumber Of Cases Greater Than 50mSv Under IRR85
Number of cases greater than 20mSv under IRR99

The database started in 1986 and its main purpose is to provide a continuous record throughout the lifetime for employees who, at the same time in their working lives, have been designated by their employer(s) as ''classified person'' under IRR99 or IRR85.

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