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27 Feb 2004 : Column 587W—continued


Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer of 5 February 2004, Official Report, column 1033W, on TeacherNet, what proportion of the cost was incurred

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by (a) the consultation process, (b) consultancy work by information technology experts and (c) marketing and publicity. [156120]

Mr. Charles Clarke: My Department met the consultation, marketing and publicity costs from within its own staffing resources, reserving the amount as previously notified for website production by web experts. The number of visits to the site last week made it the 41st most popular on the whole of the TeacherNet website.

Working-age Population (Skills)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to reduce the number of people in the working age population in the North West Region with no qualifications. [156491]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The White Paper, "21st Century Skills: Realising Our Potential", published in July last year, set out a number of measures to raise the skills levels of adults including the introduction of a new entitlement to free tuition for those studying for their first full level 2 qualification.

We intend that the level 2 entitlement will apply to those in the workforce of working age who do not already have a full level 2 qualification and who commit to trying to achieve one. To complement this, the Adult Learning Grant (ALG) will offer an allowance of up to £30 a week to help adults with the costs of learning. Lancashire is one of the 10 pilot areas for the ALG scheme. We have also put in place a strategy to ensure that low-skilled adults receive high quality information, advice and guidance to help them choose the most appropriate course.

The Skills for Life Strategy aims to transform people's attitude to literacy and numeracy, and significantly to improve the country's skills levels. In the North West, the target for the combined local LSCs is to improve the skills of 106,000 people by the end of 2004. At July 2003, we estimate that we were on track and 73,000 people in the region had improved their skills. In addition, there has been Skills for Life work carried out by Jobcentre Plus and the Prison Service in the North West.

To help raise the skills levels of those already in employment, we are running 12 Employer Training Pilots, including one in Greater Manchester, to encourage employers to invest in skills and qualifications, particularly for low skilled trainees. The Pilots are testing out a package of financial support measures to improve access to training and enable employees to develop basic skills and NVQ level 2 qualifications.

We are also working to engage employers in activity to address the basic skills needs of their employees. This includes working with Business in the Community (BITC) who have an adviser in each region, including the North West, who is able to meet and discuss basic skills with employers. BITC are also working with a number of major companies in the North West on developing programmes to address basic skills. In addition, a group of Employer Champions has been established, who will act as advocates for basic skills with other employers.

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Champions are represented in the North West by the North West Regional Development Agency, Liverpool City Council, and Airbags International.

We recognise that there is a strong regional dimension to the skills problem. Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) will be set up in each region to help ensure that the work of different agencies involved in delivering the aims of the Skills Strategy are better co-ordinated and delivered in a way that connects with the needs of employers at regional, local and sectoral levels. Key Partners in the RSPs include the Learning and Skills Council, Jobcentre Plus, the Skills for Business Network, and the Small Business Service. We will be talking to the North West Development Agency and their partners about their plans to set up the Partnership in the North West over the next few months.

Workplace Skills

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the role of trade union learning representatives in improving skill levels in the workplace; and if he will make a statement. [156632]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Union Learning Representatives are a key component of the Government's new Skills Strategy. In developing the Strategy, we consulted widely and met with trade union representatives on a number of occasions to discuss the vital role that unions and their learning representatives have to play. The TUC is, of course, a key member of the Skills Alliance which will bring together Government, employers and trade unions to oversee the future development and delivery of the Skills Strategy.

Earlier evaluations of the Union Learning Fund and Union Learning Representatives have provided evidence that they have been very effective in helping to encourage workers to improve their skills, particularly workers with low skills and those with literacy and numeracy problems—the very people who so often miss out on learning opportunities.

Analysis of the profile of learners engaged by Union Learning Representatives suggests that they have been very successful in engaging non-traditional learners including older males, people in minority ethnic groups and shift workers. Data for performance management information for 2002–03 confirm that some 19 per cent. of learners from current ULF projects come from ethnic minority backgrounds and 19 per cent. of learners are aged 51 and over (almost 60 per cent. are aged 41 and over).

There are currently around 6,500 Union Learning Representatives. Their new statutory rights, which came into force at the end of April 2003, will help their numbers to grow and we look forward to seeing a national network of over 22,000 trained Union Learning Representatives in place by 2010, helping over 250,000 workers a year into learning.

Regular evaluation of the Union Learning Fund, which includes data on Union Learning Representatives, has taken place up to 2002 and copies of the reports are available in the House of Commons Library. Further

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longitudinal evaluation, with the aim of measuring the impact of both ULF and ULRs in improving skills levels in the workplace, is commencing from April 2004.


Scottish Football Industry

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what responsibilities his Department has in relation to the Scottish football industry; and if he will make a statement. [156856]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department has no responsibilities in relation to the Scottish football industry.


Drug-related Deaths

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many drug-related deaths there were in people aged under (a) 21, (b) 30 and (c) 40 years in (i) the North West and (ii) Lancashire in the last year for which figures are available. [157089]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Lindsay Hoyle, dated 27 February 2004:

Child Tax Credit

Norman Lamb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what procedures operate in cases where it is

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discovered that an overpayment of child tax credit has been made; and whether notification of the position is sent to the recipient of the tax credit. [153465]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue's Code of Practice 26 "What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?" sets out the Inland Revenue's approach when adjusting an award to avoid paying too much tax credit over the year or to recover an overpayment identified after the tax year has ended.

A revised award notice is sent to claimants when a change is processed.

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