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Direct Payment

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 17 December 2003, Official Report, column 978W, on the exceptions service, whether those individuals who do not opt for a direct payment option will be eligible for the service. [147779]

Mr. Pond: Customers who have not supplied account details will be contacted at an appropriate time and the options available to them will be fully explained. This will include the fact that order books will no longer be a payment option. An alternative method of payment will be available for those who cannot operate a bank account.

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Direct Payment will be the best option for the overwhelming majority of our customers, giving them a more modern and reliable method of payment with greater choice about where and when they collect their money.

Research has shown that 87 per cent. of all our customers and 90 per cent. of pensioners already have an account suitable for direct payment.

Housing Allowances

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the local flat-rate housing allowances agreed to date for each of the pilot areas for such allowances. [149646]

Mr. Pond: The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a major structural reform designed to promote choice and responsibility within the housing benefit system. The LHA has been introduced in four local authorities and is due to be introduced to the remaining pathfinder authorities in the near future.

The information for the pathfinder authorities currently delivering LHA is in the table.

LHA rates for Teignbridge by Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA)

BRMA (£)
LHA categoryTeignExeterTiverton and CreditonTorbaySouth DevonPlymouth Environs
Shared room53.0055.0050.0054.0051.5050.50
2 room76.2589.5077.5082.5085.0081.50
3 room101.00114.0093.00115.50104.0098.50
4 room121.50136.50117.00125.50123.50111.50
5 room136.50141.00124.50143.00130.00124.50
6 room145.00170.50142.00162.50153.50139.00

LHA rates for Coventry

LHA categoryBRMA (£)
Shared room47.50
2 room82.50
3 room98.50
4 room107.00
5 room118.00
6 room142.50

LHA rates for Blackpool

LHA categoryBRMA (£)
Shared room47.50
2 room75.00
3 room97.00
4 room102.00
5 room123.50
6 room139.00

LHA rates for Lewisham by Broad Rental Market Area

BRMA (£)
LHA CategoryLondonSouth East-CentralLondonSouth East-Inner
Shared room77.5092.50
2 room147.50200.00
3 room190.50252.00
4 room231.00284.00
5 room265.50363.50
6 room381.00437.50

Notes:

1. Tables show weekly LHA rates for January 2004.

2. The shared room rate is for one room with shared living room and (a) shared kitchen, toilet and bathroom, or (b) exclusive use of kitchen/kitchen facilities, or (c) exclusive use of bathroom and toilet with shared kitchen.


Health and Safety

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will introduce legislation to provide for greater (a) recognition and (b) powers for safety representatives in workplaces. [155819]

Mr. Browne: We have no plans to introduce legislation to provide for greater recognition and powers for safety representatives.

We have recently received advice from the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) recommending that new legislation on worker involvement and representation in occupational health and safety should not be introduced at this time. This advice, which we have accepted, recommends that Health and Safety Commission and

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Executive should instead concentrate their efforts on securing the agreement of social partners to principles and measures that will ensure that workers are properly involved in controlling risks to occupational health and safety. Today HSC is publishing its new strategy and out of this will shortly release a statement on worker involvement setting out these principles and working with social partners to win wider support. A copy will be placed in the Library when published.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many casual workers were employed by Jobcentre Plus in the South East region in each of the last two years; what the cost was; and what the projected numbers are for the current year. [151530]

Mr. Browne: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Mike Hancock, dated 23 February 2004:



Year ending2002–032003–04
Casual staff engaged(82)252(84)250
Cost(83)£3,066,634(84)£3,716,020

(82) This represents the total number of contracts offered during the course of a year.

(83) This represents the salary costs for the total number of casual members of staff in post for each month of the year.

(84) projected

Source:

Financial Accounting Operations System Activity Based Information System

I hope this is helpful.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultation has taken place with outside interested bodies (a) prior to and (b) since the Jobcentre Plus reorganisation; and what representations he has received from groups representing (i) unemployed workers and (ii) pensioners. [151531]

Mr. Pond: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Mike Hancock, dated 23 February 2004:



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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has (a) to provide new Jobcentre Plus premises for the inner city areas of (i) Portsmouth and (ii) Southampton, (b) to increase staffing levels in remaining offices and (c) to improve the furnishing in remaining offices. [151535]

Mr. Browne: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Hancock, dated 13 February 2004:





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