Previous Section Index Home Page

8 Dec 2003 : Column 318W—continued

Speech Therapists

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect "Agenda for

8 Dec 2003 : Column 319W

Change" will have on the pay levels for speech and language therapists; and if he will make a statement on how it will affect their professional status. [142627]

Mr. Hutton: As part of the agreement with trades unions earlier this year on the new national health service pay system, "Agenda for Change", NHS speech and language therapists, like other health service workers, will receive a minimum 10 per cent. increase in basic pay over the period 2003–04 to 2005–06. It is too early to assess in more detail the impact of "Agenda for Change" on speech and language therapists' pay levels. The impact will vary between posts depending on a range of factors, including the national job profile to which the particular post matches or—where there is no match with a national profile—the results of local job evaluation. The national job profiles for speech and language therapists have only recently been agreed with the trade unions.

"Agenda for Change" will provide a framework for pay and career progression that is fair, consistent and transparent across all groups of NHS staff. It provides greater opportunities to recognise and reward NHS staff who take on extra responsibilities and use increased knowledge and skills in their work. It provides greater scope to create new roles that enable staff to deliver more patient-centred care.


Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much per head of population has been spent by his Department on promoting and facilitating sport and physical activity in (a) 2001, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003. [140499]

Miss Melanie Johnson: This information is not available.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department is taking to reduce the number of suicides happening in December and January; and if he will make a statement. [141209]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England recognises that the factors associated with suicides are many and varied. This is why the strategy sets out a broad approach, involving a wide range of organisations and individuals in the public, private and voluntary sectors. The strategy also identifies some groups that are at high risk of suicide and has targeted them for specific action, although the winter months of December and January are not singled out for special attention. Whatever the causes of suicide, and we do not fully understand them all, it is a matter of great concern to the Government and to those delivering mental health services. Improving mental health services is a priority.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of tuberculosis have been reported in the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire health authority area in each year since 2000–01. [141357]

8 Dec 2003 : Column 320W

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on notified cases of tuberculosis is collated by the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) of the Health Protection Agency through the notification of infectious diseases (NOIDs) system. The number of notified cases in the local and unitary authorities corresponding to the old Portsmouth and South East Hampshire health authority area, since 2000 is shown in the table.

Number of cases

Valuing People

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what monitoring his Department has undertaken to ensure that the funding announced to support Valuing People and allocated to strategic health authorities and primary care trusts was spent on initiatives to support Valuing People; how the remaining capital element of the LDDF was spent in 2002–03; and for what reasons the decision was taken to change the way the capital fund was distributed for 2003–04. [140474]

Dr. Ladyman: Capital allocations from the Learning Disability Development Fund (LDDF) are included in monthly returns which strategic health authorities (SHAs) make to the Department. It is for SHAs to monitor how individual primary care trusts and national health service trusts use the funds.

Local authorities provide information to the Department about the use of the revenue element of the LDDF as part of their delivery and improvement statements.

In 2002–03, the allocation of the LDDF capital was handled centrally. Learning disability partnership boards were invited to submit bids as part of their joint investment plans. £16.7 million of the £20 million available was allocated to support the development priorities for capital investment in the learning disability White Paper "Valuing People". It was not possible to spend the full amount because of the long lead in time on capital projects and the remaining £3.3 million was therefore used on other centrally funded projects.

In accordance with our policy of decentralisation, it was decided to simplify the procedure for 2003–04 and enable decisions about the use of the money to be taken as closely as possible to the point of spending. The £20 million per annum LDDF capital was therefore distributed to SHAs as part of their three-year strategic capital allocations. This enabled us to issue their funds to them more quickly. Given the long lead in for many capital schemes, making three-year allocations should also enable the SHAs to make better use of the money. SHAs were informed about the change of procedure through the Chief Executive's Bulletin and a more detailed note setting out the priorities for use of the fund was included on the Department's web site.

8 Dec 2003 : Column 321W


Benefit/Pensions Payment

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how pensions will be paid to pensioners with neither a bank account nor a Post Office Card Account. [142426]

Mr. Pond: Almost 50 per cent. of pensioners are already paid by Direct Payment and 90 per cent. of pensioners already have an account suitable to receive Direct Payment. And for those who do not, new easy to operate accounts, which are accessible at the Post Office, are widely available.

We have always recognised that there will be a small number of people who we cannot pay directly into an account. Our plan is to design an exceptions method of payment to properly meet the needs of customers in these circumstances. Detailed arrangements for this method of payment are not finalised yet, but it is anticipated that it will be a cheque-based solution. Payment outlets will include Post Office branches.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants have (a) phoned his Department to request a Post Office Card Account, (b) completed a Card Account application form and returned it to EDS and (c) returned an invitation pack form with card account details to his Department. [142427]

Mr. Pond: Key figures on the progress of conversion to Direct Payment are available in the Library, updated every four weeks.

Information regarding the number of Post Office card account applications completed and returned are matters that fall within the responsibilities of Post Office Ltd. (POL).

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy (a) to end the practice of his Department's managers and agencies seeking to dissuade claimants from using the Post Office to access their benefits in preference to banks and building societies and (b) to promote the use of the Post Office for such a purpose on an equal basis; and if he will make a statement. [140925]

Mr. Pond: No such practice exists. All Department for Work and Pensions staff have been provided with information on all of the account options available to the customer. The role of the staff member is to provide factual information and not advise which option the customer should choose. It will be up to the customers themselves to decide which type of account they wish to have their money paid into.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what targets his Department set for the number of people opting to use (a) bank or building society accounts and (b) Post Office card accounts to receive their benefits payments; and where these targets are published. [141507]

Mr. Pond: The Department has a published Public Service Agreement (PSA) that by 2005, 85 per cent. of customers will have their benefits paid by Direct

8 Dec 2003 : Column 322W

Payment. Direct Payment includes both bank/building society current and basic accounts and the Post Office card account.

The PSA can be found in the 2002 Spending Review which is available in the House of Commons Library.

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will withdraw the guidance circulating within his Department that encourages the use only of direct payments of benefits. [142215]

Mr. Pond: Payment directly into a bank or building society account, including the Post Office card account is the normal method of payment for benefits and pensions.

All staff have been provided with appropriate, up to date, guidance on all of the account options and it will be up to customers to choose the best account to suit their circumstances.

Next Section Index Home Page