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17 Nov 2004 : Column 1616W—continued

Work Permits

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the guidance issued to Work Permits UK regarding the permits for those people wishing to work as care assistants in the UK. [195844]

Mr. Browne: The post of care assistant does not meet the criteria for the issue of a work permit therefore there is no guidance available to publish for the occupation.

Young Offenders Institutions

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many hours, on average, young offenders spend in education each week. [191896]

Paul Goggins: Young offenders spend an average of 24 hours a week in education. These figures do not include additional independent learning, for example, through peer support schemes or distance learning.

The Youth Justice Board's national target is to provide young people in young offender institutions, with 25 hours a week of education, training and personal development by 2005, rising to 30 hours a week by 2006.


Agency Workers

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government are taking to improve the (a) employment rights and (b) holiday pay entitlements of agency workers. [198611]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government believes that all workers, including agency workers, should be treated fairly and have appropriate rights. Agency workers are also protected through the domestic regulation of the conduct of employment agencies, which is backed up by an inspection regime and a helpline. These regulations were completely updated and overhauled this year.

In relation to holiday pay entitlements, since the working time regulations were introduced in October 1998, all workers, including agency workers, have enjoyed the entitlement to four weeks paid annual leave.

The paid annual leave provisions were extended further in October 2001, when the entitlement to paid annual leave became available from the first day of employment rather than after 13 weeks continuous service. This opened up paid holiday for the first time to some agency workers, who traditionally did not work for 13 weeks continuously and therefore did not receive holiday pay.

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will take steps to ensure that the UK adopts the proposed EU Directive on Temporary Agency Workers. [198691]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Directive is currently under negotiation in Brussels and agreement has yet to be reached on a number of outstanding issues. Her
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Majesty's Government is working with the Dutch Presidency and other member states to try to find a way forward that would allow the Directive to be agreed.

Benefits Payment

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many telephone calls have been made by her Department to benefit recipients encouraging them to receive their benefits through bank accounts; and how much these calls have cost. [192576]

Mr. Pond: I have been asked to reply.

Information is not available in the format requested.

The conversion process normally consists of one or more mailings sent directly to the customer, followed by a phone call if there is no response to the letter(s). If the customers' telephone number is not available then a further letter asking them to contact the Department is issued.

The Customer Conversion Centre or Pension and benefit paying offices may be involved in contacting customers by telephone to discuss their method of payment.

Customers are being provided with all the information they need on all of the account options, including which accounts can be used at the Post Office. It will be up to the customers themselves to decide which type of account they wish to have their money paid into.

Bombardier Aerospace

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) whether she plans to assist Bombardier Aerospace with their evaluation into the feasibility of the CSeries commerical aircraft programme; and if she will make a statement; [198805]

(2) what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the (i) direct and (ii) indirect benefits to the UK economy of the Bombardier Aerospace CSeries going into production. [198806]

Jacqui Smith: Bombardier Aerospace has submitted an application to the DTI for Launch Investment. Evaluation of that application is commercially confidential and on-going.

Business Angels

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the performance of the National Business Angels Network in providing matching services between start-up and growing enterprises and those who wish to invest in them. [195172]

Nigel Griffiths: An external evaluation of the National Business Angels Network took place early in 2003 that examined all aspects of its operation, including its matchmaking activities. It was on the basis of the evaluation's findings that the Department decided not to continue funding this element of the National Business Angels Network's operations.
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Business Links

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of business link services in Northampton. [195434]

Nigel Griffiths: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave her on 4 November 2004, Official Report, column 356W.

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans she has to develop regional Business Links [197605]

(2) if she will give a commitment to maintain Business Links organisations at local levels; [197606]

(3) if she will make a statement on the future of Business Links. [197607]

Nigel Griffiths: The Spending Review 2004 announced that from April 2005, the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in England would have responsibility for the management and delivery of Business Link Services in their regions. The RDAs will be required to report on Business Link performance against targets defined by the Business Link National Performance Management Framework, which currently comprise penetration, customer satisfaction, intensive assistance received and gross value added. The budget for Business Link has been maintained at 2004–05 levels.

The Government's plans are to have a regionally managed Business Link service. It will be the responsibility of RDAs to determine the extent of locally delivered business support provision within their regions. The Government are committed to the continuation of the Business Link brand as the access brand to business support at national, regional and local level.

The RDAs and the Small Business Service (SBS) are working together on the application of the Business Link brand across all regions, and through the Business Link Strategy Board are jointly responsible for the management of the Business Link brand.

Business Start-ups

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what grants are available from (a) her Department and its agencies and (b) other Government Departments to help with business start-ups in (i) Newcastle-under-Lyme and (ii) Stoke-on-Trent. [195698]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 4 November 2004]: There are two capital grant schemes available in both Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent.

The DTI's selective finance for investment (the successor scheme to regional selective assistance) is administered on behalf of the DTI by Advantage West Midlands, the region's Regional Development Agency. The scheme can award grants to existing businesses and start-up businesses which are investing in new plant
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andjobs, up to a maximum of 15 per cent. of the projects costs. The scheme targets high quality, innovative knowledge based projects that provide skilled jobs.

While not aimed specifically at Start up businesses the DTI also provides a Grant for Research and Development. This provides grants to help individuals and small and medium-sized businesses research and develop technologically innovative products and processes, and could be used as a precursor to starting a business to manufacture the resulting product.

Apart from these Grants, there is also considerable subsidised support available to start-up businesses from Business Link Staffordshire, who contract with the County's Enterprise Agencies to deliver this support. This will cover all the issues of Starting a business and also includes subsidised consultancy support under the Mustard programme for those Start ups considered to be High Growth.

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