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7 Sept 2004 : Column 1113W—continued

PFI/PPP Contracts

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many contracts his Department had with (a) Barclays Bank, (b) the Royal Bank of Scotland, (c) UBS Warburg and (d) the Bank of Scotland for advice on private finance initiative and public private partnership contracts in each financial year since 2001–02; and what fees were paid in each case. [186657]

Jane Kennedy: DWP was formed in June 2001. We have had no involvement with any of these companies concerning private finance initiative and public private partnerships contracts.

Social Fund

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what resources the Government have made available to the Social Fund since 1997; whether the Government intends to increase the budget of the Social Fund; and if he will make a statement. [186866]

Mr. Pond: Additional resources have been made available to both the regulated and discretionary Social Fund since 1997.

In the regulated fund, which is not cash limited, Sure Start Maternity Grants have been introduced and are now worth £500; five times as much as the old maternity payment. Winter fuel payments, now worth £200, have been introduced to help older people meet fuel costs, and are available to around eight million households. From the winter of 2003–04 those households that include a person aged 80 or over receiving a winter fuel payment receive an additional £100.

The net budget for the discretionary Social Fund, which includes Community Care Grants, Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans, has also increased since 1997, and will be increased by a further £90 million over the three years from April 2003.

The information is in the table.
Social Fund expenditure since 1997
£ million

Discretionary Fund
Community Care GrantsBudgeting LoansCrisis Loans

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Regulated Fund
£ million

Maternity Payments/Sure Start Maternity GrantsFuneral PaymentsCold Weather PaymentsWinter Fuel Payments

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest £1 million, except for cold weather payments of £1.0 million or less which are rounded to the nearest £0.1 million.
2. Winter fuel payments expenditure for 2000–01 includes £94 million for retrospective entitlement due to extending winter fuel payments to all those aged 60 or over (with some exceptions) and £108 million for those entitled for the first time in 2000–01.
3. Winter fuel payments expenditure for 2003–04 includes expenditure on the 80+ payment. Winter fuel payment expenditure for 2003–04 is estimated.
Secretary of State's annual reports on the Social Fund, except expenditure for winter fuel payments, which is taken from Social Fund accounts.

Social Fund Loans

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Social Fund budget loans, and to what value, have been made in each year since 1997; and how many and what value of these were to cover delays in payments of social security benefits and tax credits. [186781]

Mr. Pond: Social Fund Loans, including Budgeting Loans, should not be awarded to compensate for delay in payment of benefits; where there is delay in payment, interim benefit payments can be considered.
Budgeting Loan awards and gross expenditure since 1997

Initial awards
Total gross expenditure
(£ million)

1. Initial awards do not include awards made after review.
2. Gross expenditure does include awards made on review.
3. Numbers of initial awards are rounded to the nearest thousand and total gross expenditure to the nearest million.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Annual reports on the Social Fund.

Winter Fuel Allowance

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost of increasing the value of the winter fuel allowance to £300 per household. [186460]

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Malcolm Wicks: The estimated additional cost of increasing the winter fuel payment from £200 to £300 is £860 million.

Industrial Injuries (Appeals)

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the Government's target time is from application to hearing for appeals concerning industrial injuries disablement benefit diseases; and what the average waiting time has been for those whose appeals are currently being heard. [175717]

Mr. Pond: [pursuant to the reply, 27 May 2004, Official Report, c. 1802W]:

This is a matter for Christina Townsend, Chief Executive of the Appeals Service. She will reply to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Chris Pond to Mr. Tony Lloyd, dated 31 August 2004:

Letter from Christina Townsend to Mr. Tony Lloyd, dated 31 August 2004:

Disability Discrimination Act

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will set out the timescale for compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 for (a) voluntary and community groups and (b) small businesses; and if he will make a statement; [187572]

(2) what financial assistance is available to help (a) voluntary and community groups and (b) small businesses to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and if he will make a statement. [187573]

Maria Eagle: Many voluntary and community groups and small businesses, where they are employers or provide services to the public, are already under a duty to meet certain requirements of the Disability
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Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995. For example, they are already required not to discriminate unjustifiably against, and to make reasonable adjustments for, disabled people in recruitment, employment or in the way that they deliver services to disabled people.

On 1 October 2004, the employment provisions of the DDA are being extended to employers with fewer than 15 employees. At the same time, service providers will be under additional duties to tackle physical features of their premises which otherwise make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to access the service, or to provide the service by another reasonable means.

The Government, and the Disability Rights Commission, have undertaken wide-ranging publicity campaigns over the last two years to raise awareness of the new duties in order to give employers and service providers the opportunity to understand, and plan for, their implementation.

There is no specific funding available to help (a) voluntary and community groups and (b) small businesses, or indeed any business or organisation with duties under the DDA, to meet the requirements of the Act. This is because employers and service providers are only required to do what is reasonable, and factors such as the cost and practicability of making reasonable adjustments, and the financial and other resources available to the business or organisation, will be taken into account in determining what is reasonable.

In certain instances, an employer who employs a disabled person may be able to obtain assistance to make adjustments for the disabled employee from the Access to Work programme. Employers can obtain further information about the programme by contacting their nearest Access to Work Business Centre.

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