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16 Sept 2004 : Column 1734W—continued


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects all absent parents to be assessed under the same criteria for Child Support Agency payments; and if he will make a statement. [186530]

Mr. Pond: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 18 December 2003, Official Report, column 1092W.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department and its predecessor Department spent on (a) mobile phone costs, (b) hospitality and (c) taxi costs in (i) 1996–97 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available. [185530]

Maria Eagle: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed in June 2001 from the Department of Social Security (DSS), Employment Service (ES), and parts of the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE). The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) were added in 2002–03.

Information is not available in the format requested. Expenditure on taxis is not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Such information as is available on: (a) mobile phones; and (b) hospitality is set out in the following table:
£ million
(a) Mobile phones
2003–04 (DWP)3.769
(b) Hospitality
2003–04 (DWP)0.123

(12) Figures available for former DSS only.
(13) All DWP components.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were employed in the Department in each of the last three years; and how many were employed on short-term contracts in each year. [188983]

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Maria Eagle: Information on the number of staff awarded short term contracts within a given period is not held. Information on the number of staff employed on short term contracts at specific dates over the last three years is in the table.
At 31 MarchNumber of staff

Figures are point in time at the date shown.
Figures are expressed in headcount terms.

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the turnover rate of staff in the Department and each of its agencies was in the last year for which figures are available. [188984]

Maria Eagle: Information on turnover in the Department and each of its Agencies for the year ending 31 March 2004 is in the following table.
Turnover Rate (percentage)
Appeals Service6.0
Child Support Agency8.9
Jobcentre Plus5.7
The Pension Service7.6
The Department4.4
Total Department for Work and Pensions6.1

Destination of Benefit Leavers Survey

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost is of carrying out the Destination of Benefit Leavers Survey; what information he expects to obtain from it; and if he will make a statement. [188912]

Mr. Pond: The 2004 Destination of Benefit Leavers Survey is currently being carried out. The estimated cost of the survey is £488,000. Plans are in place to publish the key findings from the 2004 Destination of Benefit Leavers Survey in early 2005.

The research aims to collect information on the immediate destinations of around 20,000 income support, incapacity benefit or jobseeker allowance (JSA) unknown destination benefit leavers. Specifically, we are looking to obtain information on why the claimant has left benefit (for example, they have moved into work, training or education); details of hours worked and earnings (if the destinations is into work); current activity (at the time of interview); and demographic information not already held administratively by the Department.

This is a repeat of the 2003 survey. A copy of the report (2003 Destination of Benefit Leavers in-house research report No. 132) is available in the Library.

At present, comprehensive information on immediate destinations is collected for JSA recipients only. The information gathered via the destination survey is, therefore, an important and significant development to the Department's analytical evidence base and will
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enable the Department to monitor and evaluate the number of claimants flowing off benefits and into work from the three key working age benefits.

The survey is part of a wider package of work that is being carried out to improve our information and is an interim measure for collection of destinations data until future income support and incapacity benefit administrative solutions are introduced in late 2004/early 2005.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has to allow people to claim disability living allowance if they become ill after the age of 65; and if he will make a statement; [188903]

(2) what the upper age limit is for claiming disability living allowance; for what reason (a) there is an upper age limit and (b) the limit is set at that age; and if he will make a statement. [188904]

Maria Eagle: It is normal for social security schemes to contain different provisions for people at different stages of their lives, and we have no plans to change the rules which preclude people aged 65 or over from entitlement to disability living allowance unless they claimed and qualified for it before reaching that age. This is because the benefit is focussed on providing help with the disability-related extra costs of people who are severely disabled early, or relatively early, in life. Help with those costs for people for whom the onset of disability comes with old age is provided by attendance allowance as part of the wide range of support that the Government make available to older people so that they can have a decent and secure income in retirement and share fairly in the rising prosperity of the country.

Disabled People

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the major initiatives since 1997 that the Government has taken to (a) advance the cause of disabled people and (b) highlight disability, especially with regard to overcoming discrimination. [188327]

Maria Eagle: Since 1997, we have introduced a wide range of significant measures that have improved civil rights and opportunities for disabled people, including:
Major initiatives
December 1997The Government set up the Disability Rights Task Force to consider how best to secure our 1997 Manifesto commitment to look at comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people.
December 1998Employment provisions of Disability Discrimination Act extended to employers with 15 or more employees (previously 20 or more).
January 1999All new rail vehicles have to comply with Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998.
June 1999"See the person" information campaign which aimed to challenge negative stereotypical thinking about disability and disabled people, to raise awareness of the DDA requirement (coming into effect from October 1999) on service providers to consider reasonable adjustments to the ways they deliver services.
July 1999Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 gains Royal Assent.
October 1999Further DDA rights of access to goods and services came into force, meaning service providers have to alter a policy, practice or procedure which prevents a disabled person accessing a service, or to provide an auxiliary aid or service, or provide a service by a reasonably alternative means.
February 2000Direct Payments were extended to older disabled people.
April 2000Disability Rights Commission commenced activity.
June 2000Attendance Allowance and the care component of Disability Living were extended to an estimated 2,000 self-funders in local authority owned/managed residential care homes.
June 2000The day of discharge from hospital has been treated, for the purpose of payments of Attendance Allowance and the Disability Living Allowance care component, as being a day out of hospital. This is benefiting an estimated 50,000 people per year.
September 2000Department of Health began to undertake a project to Modernise Hearing Aid Services. In the first 18 months, 20 sites piloted provision of a service which assessed patients' more thoroughly, providing binaural aids where indicated, and digital hearing aids where this provides the best solution to the patient.
October 2000Government agrees the EU Article 13 Employment Directive to combat discrimination in employment and vocational training on grounds of disability, age, religion/belief, sexual orientation.
October 2000The "What have you got to offer?" campaign which targeted SME business sector in particular, and used straightforward examples of the kinds of changes under the DDA, which make services accessible to disabled customers.
December 2000Public Service Vehicle Regulations 2000 became applicable to all new buses and coaches with more than 22 passengers used on local and scheduled services.
March 2001Regulations introduced requiring licensed taxi drivers to accept assistance dogs and to carry them free of charge.
March 2001'Valuing People' was published. This is the first White Paper on learning disability for thirty years.
April 2001Launch of WORKSTEP programme providing support in jobs for disabled people.
April 2001The Disability Living Allowance higher rate mobility component was extended to severely disabled three and four year old children who are unable, or virtually unable, to walk. This change provides extra help worth £41.05 a week to the families of over 7,000 severely disabled children.
May 2001Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) gains Royal Assent. The Act brings within scope of the DDA's discrimination provisions, disabled pupils and students.
June 2001Introduced statutory minimum requirement for concessionary travel, ensuring that certain groups of disabled people have access to half-fares on local buses.
July 2001National Extension of New Deal for Disabled People.
August 2001'Valuing People' Implementation Guidance was published.
December 2001The Learning Disability Task Force held their first meeting. The Learning Disabilities Taskforce is a team of academic experts, representatives of voluntary organisations, health and social care professionals, family carers and people with learning difficulties charged with finding ways to turn the ideas in Valuing People, into reality.
December 2001The Mencap helpline was launched. It is funded by the Department of Health and Mencap. They offer advice on learning disability issues.
January 2002The "Open to Change" campaign which was aimed at encouraging SMEs to find out more about what reasonable adjustments should be made under the DDA, to ensure their services were available to disabled customers.
February 2002The Valuing People Support Team became fully operational. The team works to improve services for people with learning disabilities through regional programmes of events, networks and support to groups and partnership boards.
April 2002The Learning Disability Development Fund (LDDF) was introduced. It provides central support for key aspects of 'Valuing People.'
September 2002First duties of SENDA came into force in September 2002.
October 2002The Direct Payments Development Fund (DPDF) was announced, to encourage investment in direct payments support services. This money (£9 million over the next three financial years) is being targeted at national, regional and local voluntary organisations, in partnership with local councils, to enable them to play a significant role in the development and promotion of direct payments.
November 2002The Wheelchair Collaborative was launched to bring about significant improvements in services. It was developed in partnership with the NHS Modernisation Agency, the Department of Health and the Audit Commission.
December 2002Department of Health Ministers appointed a multidisciplinary External Reference Group to provide advice on issues which the National Service Framework for Long-Term Conditions should cover. This National service Framework focuses on improving the standard and quality of services for people with neurological conditions and addressing some of the common issues that can promote independence for people with long term conditions, like information and support for families and carers, and access community equipment and wheelchairs.
October 2002Legislation requiring drivers of regulated buses and coaches to provide reasonable assistance to disabled people.
2001–2003Produced a series of TV 'fillers' to tackle discrimination by using positive portrayals of disabled people in a range of roles and settings. These have generated millions of pounds worth of coverage.
January 2003Government announced intention to publish a draft Disability Discrimination Bill.
March 2003Regulations introduced requiring licensed private hire vehicle operators and drivers to accept assistance dogs and to carry them free of charge.
April 2003The Disability Discrimination (Blind and Partially Sighted Persons) Regulations 2003 came into force. People who are certified as blind or partially sighted, or registered as blind or partially sighted by a local authority, automatically deemed disabled for DDA purposes.
April 2003Regulations came into force requiring councils to offer direct payments to people using community care services who can choose to have them.
July 2003DDA 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 approved by Parliament. These include significant measures that will bring over one million additional employers, and a further seven million jobs, within the scope of the DDA. Measures come into effect in October 2004. They implement disability provisions of the Article 13 Employment Directive.
October 2003Start of the first three Pathways to Work pilots.
November 2003Began public consultation on setting an end date for rail vehicle accessibility and for refurbishment of rail vehicles.
November 2003Laid Regulations to give effect to the Article 13 Directive's requirements as they affect occupational pension schemes for disabled employees. Measures come into effect in October 2004.
December 2003Draft Disability Discrimination Bill published.
April 2004Information campaign to tell Small to Medium Sized Enterprises about the changes they need to consider under the new October 2004 duties of the DDA. The campaign used Direct mail, radio, press and email to communicate with businesses.
May 2004The disabled people and carers section of the new site, provides information of practical, personal relevance to disabled people including information on government services, and steps to find out more about those services.
May 2004The draft bill underwent a thorough pre-legislative scrutiny process by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament. The Committee published its response to Government on 27 May, containing 75 recommendations.
July 2004The Government's response to the Scrutiny Committee's recommendations published. The Bill will further extend disabled people's civil rights in respect of the public sector, transport, premises, private clubs and the definition of disability.

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We have also announced future measures to improve and broaden civil rights for disabled people:
Major initiatives
October 2004Final rights of access to goods and services in DDA come into effect, which mean that service providers have to, where reasonable, remove, alter or avoid physical features which act as barriers to disabled people accessing their services.
September 2005SEN DA duty to remove or alter physical features in post-16 education sector comes into force.
January 2005New buses up to 7.5 tonnes and coaches will have improved access for wheelchair users.
January 2015All buses up to 7.5 tonnes will be fully accessible.
January 2016All full size single deck buses over 7.5 tonnes will be fully accessible.
January 2017All double deck buses will be fully accessible.
January 2020All coaches will be fully accessible.

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