Previous Section Index Home Page

9 Dec 2002 : Column 133W—continued

Regional Co-ordination Unit

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the cost implications to (a) his Department and (b) other Departments of implementing the review of area-based initiatives by the Regional Co-ordination Unit; and if he will make a statement. [86253]

Mrs. Roche: Any costs which may arise in implementing the review of area based initiatives are expected to be offset by the savings which will arise from streamlining the administration of fewer funding streams. Those areas receiving support are also expected to benefit from a reduced bureaucratic overhead.

Urban Design Skills

Ms Shipley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to raise the level of urban design skills within the Government Offices for the regions. [85193]

Mr. McNulty: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister made clear to the House in his statement on 18 July 2002, and subsequently in his address to the Urban Summit, that the quality urban design is a key element in delivering sustainable communities. It is recognised that there is a shortage of urban design skills across the public and private sectors. In the context of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Ministers' document, we will be looking at effective means of raising urban design skills.

Through our support to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) we are already actively encouraging improved understanding and awareness of the value of urban design. We expect the Commission to promote the highest standards of urban design and use its enabling and review roles to help develop skills and best practice in both the public and private sector.

9 Dec 2002 : Column 134W

The Government endorse the XDesign Champion" model that is working well in Government Departments and some local authorities to improve the quality of design. Our XLiving Places: cleaner, safer, greener'' report published in October 2002 stated that, by April 2003, all Regional Development Agencies will be expected to have a Design Champion in place to help them achieve their objective to promote excellence in urban design. By April 2004 the Government would like to see all major agencies and non-departmental bodies follow suit. Copies of this document are available in Libraries of the House .

Young Runaways

Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he plans to take, following the publication of the Social Exclusion Unit's young runaways report, to tackle the issues of abuse at home and bullying that cause children to run away; and whether one of the proposed two flagship schemes will be based in West Sussex. [86429]

Mrs. Roche: The Department of Health is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the action plan in the Social Exclusion Unit's report on young runaways.

The action plan sets out a range of practical steps to prevent children and young people from running away and to tackle issues like abuse and bullying. Those steps include better information for schools and teachers, early identification of children and young people who might run away and the development of more effective family support services.

The Green Paper on Children at Risk announced to Parliament by my right. hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 30 October 2002, Official Report, column 860, will look further at some of the wider issues that contribute to running away and that put children and young people at risk. The Green Paper will identify radical new options to improve services for children. It will cover all services which work with children and young people including social services, youth justice, as well as the role of schools, families and communities.

No bids for runaways development projects were received from West Sussex.


Automated Credit Transfer

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the daily capacity is of the telephone helpline provided for claimants seeking advice on automatic credit transfer. [86209]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department's customer conversion centre and information line have in place service level agreements to deal with anticipated levels of contact from customers. The service level agreements will ensure that effective customer service is provided and any change in customer contact volumes will be managed.

9 Dec 2002 : Column 135W

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many suspected benefit frauds have (a) been investigated and (b) resulted in a successful prosecution as a result of (i) submissions to the Targeting Fraud website and (ii) calls to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline in each year since 1997. [85991]

Malcolm Wicks: The available information is in the tables.

Targeting fraud website (launched May 2000)

PeriodInvestigations completedSuccessful prosecutions
1 May 2000 to 31 March 20011840
1 April 2002 to 31 October 20027229

Full information on the number of investigations and successful prosecutions resulting from calls to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline is available only from April 2000.

National benefit fraud hotline

PeriodInvestigations completedSuccessful prosecutions
1 April 2002 to 31 October 200258,592432


Fraud Information By Sector system

EU Employment Barriers

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the informal barriers to employment for British workers in the EU. [84576]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 2 December 2002]: The main informal barriers relate to such problems as language or culture and are therefore not readily solved. However, the UK Government take up individual cases where any barriers seem to be unreasonable, and intervenes where appropriate when cases come before the European Court of Justice.

The Department has worked with the European Commission to help produce their communication of 28 February 2001 on XNew European Labour Markets, Open to All with Access for All" and have contributed to the subsequent House of Lords Select Committee investigation. We will continue to look to improve our understanding of this issue so that we can raise the employment opportunities available to all UK jobseekers.

Free movement of people is one of the four freedoms within the internal market of the European Union. Within the free movement title of the EC Treaty, Article 39 states that free movement of workers Xshall be secured within the Community". This means that workers of the member states are free to accept offers of employment actually made in another member state, and to remain in another member state for the purposes of carrying out employment. However, Article 39 does not apply to employment in the public service.

9 Dec 2002 : Column 136W

The main EU regulation giving effect to free movement rights for workers of EU member states is EEC Regulation 1612/68. This guarantees migrant workers equality of treatment with nationals of the host country in respect of:

The regulation guarantees, subject to certain conditions, the right of the migrant worker's family to live in the host country.

Nevertheless, provided they fulfil their obligations under EU legislation, member states can and do place restrictions on the free movement rights of EU citizens. In particular, Article 39(3) of the EC Treaty allows member states in some circumstances to restrict the movement and residence of workers on the grounds of Xpublic policy, public security or public health".

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will simplify the procedures for the payment of Incapacity Benefit to councillors in receipt of councillors' allowances. [84622]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Incapacity Benefit rules recognise councillors' particular obligations and all work carried out in connection with their elected office is disregarded in deciding entitlement. Any allowances paid are taken into account only if they exceed the permitted work rules limit of #67.50 in any week.

In March 2002, new guidance on the treatment of councillors' allowances was issued to decision makers. This simplifies procedures by allowing the averaging and estimation of expenses, thereby reducing the need for a weekly calculation.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answers of 27 November 2002, Refs 82508, 82511 and 82513, if he will list the additional job entry target point scores which apply in respect of each client group in each of the 60 local authority areas referred to; and if he will make a statement. [85292]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 4 December 2002]: The job entry target point scores are helping Jobcentre Plus to achieve the objectives laid out in its Business Plan for 2002–03. One of the Agency's goals is to help people of working age in the most disadvantaged groups and areas to move closer to the labour market, compete effectively for, and remain in work.

9 Dec 2002 : Column 137W

It is these groups and areas that have been given highest weight. Awarding additional points in this way gives extra incentives to build Jobcentre Plus performance in difficult labour markets and towards those people who are hardest to help back into the labour market.

Details of the point scores are in the table.

Client GroupPoints per job entry
Participants in the New Deal for Lone Parents12
Other jobless lone parents12
Participants in the New Deal for Disabled People12
Other people with disabilities receiving benefit(35) (other than those receiving Jobseeker's Allowance)12
Other jobless people receiving benefit(35)(other than those receiving Jobseeker's Allowance)12
Participants in the New Deal for people aged 50+8
Participants in the New Deal for people aged 25+8
Participants in the New Deal for Young People aged 18 to 248
People helped into work through Employment Zones8
Other people with disabilities8
Other people who have been receiving Jobseeker's Allowance for six months or more.8
People who have been receiving Jobseeker's Allowance for up to six months4
Other Jobless people not claiming benefits2
People already employed, changing jobs1
Additional Points
People receiving Jobseeker's Allowance who remain off Jobseeker's Allowance four weeks after being helped into work1
People living in 60 specified Local Authority areas.2

(35) The benefits are: Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Bereavement Benefit and Invalid Care Allowance.

Next Section Index Home Page