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The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning what percentage of callers to his Department's office in Hastings in the last week encountered the engaged tone. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Customers calling Hastings Jobcentre Plus contact centre to make a claim for a working age benefit would not have received the engaged tone. If all operators are busy the calls are placed in a queue and an appropriate message is played.
If customers in the Hastings area wish to talk to someone about any other Jobcentre Plus matter they can telephone their local office, either at Bognor Regis or Littlehampton. We do not have any information on the number of callers who encountered the engaged tone when ringing these offices.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning what telephone answering system is in place at his Department's Hastings office for people making benefit claims by telephone. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
A single number is provided for customers of working age wishing to make a claim to benefit in the Hastings area. This number is for a contact centre where staff ask customers a series of questions to assess their potential eligibility to Jobcentre Plus benefits and then arrange to call the customer back at a mutually agreed time to assist in the completion of a claim form. There is no answer phone service. If all operators are busy, calls are placed in a queue and an appropriate message is placed on incoming calls.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the cost of administering the financial assistance scheme (FAS) will be met from within the £20 million annual allocation to the FAS; and what estimate he has made of the annual cost of administering the FAS. 
Malcolm Wicks: The cost of administering the financial assistance scheme (FAS) will not be met from the £20 million annual allocation for FAS payments. Instead it will be funded from DWP's existing administration resources. There is still some detailed planning to be done, particularly on the detailed process design and its effect on both IT requirements and individual job design, which will affect the estimates of administration costs and exact costs will depend on the number of applications for assistance that are made.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his oral statement of 23 February 2005, Official Report, column 628, on the Financial Assistance Scheme, how many of the pension schemes to be covered by the Financial Assistance Scheme provided some indexation of post-retirement benefits to scheme members. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 7 March 2005]: The recent data collection exercise for the Financial Assistance Scheme did not request details of indexation within schemes therefore the specific information requested is not available.
As most schemes eligible for the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) will have started to wind up after April 1997 they are likely to have some members with a small proportion of rights subject to statutory indexation. On the other hand, as I made clear in my statement of 22 February 2005, Official Report, column 18WS, the FAS will initially apply to older workers within three years of scheme pension age. For those older workers it is likely that the majority of their rights will have accrued before April 1997, when the statutory indexation requirement referred to came in.
Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will include the expanded metal pension scheme in the indicative list of schemes potentially eligible for the financial assistance scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
(2) whether he expects that clients due to start in the week beginning 14 March programmes for self-employment training in Dorset funded by Jobcentre Plus will be able to complete their training; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) whether it is his policy that programmes of self-employment training supported by Jobcentre Plus are promoted equally in all counties in the south-west region; and if he will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions concerning the plans he has to change training programmes on offer through Jobcentre Plus in Dorset; whether clients due to start in the week beginning 14 March on programmes for self-employment training in Dorset funded by Jobcentre Plus will be able to complete their training, and whether it is his policy that programmes of self employment training supported by Jobcentre Plus are promoted equally in all counties in the South West Region. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
In answer to your first question, Jobcentre Plus is currently considering its future strategy around contracting for programmes including training and self-employment support. We need to take account of the Department for Work and Pensions' recently published 5 year strategy and an increased priority on helping those who are out of work because of sickness or disability and lone parents.
We are currently in the process of extending current contracts where appropriate, with a view to inviting tenders to compete for new contracts from Autumn 2005. We are clear that with fewer people unemployed and a greater emphasis on providing support to disabled people through the New Deal for Disabled People and the Pathways to Work pilots, we need to review our contracts and focus support on those who need the most help.
In answer to your second question, we have offered to temporarily extend the Self Employment contract in Dorset in order to ensure that clients currently engaged in training, and those who were due to start this month, can complete their current stage of training. If providers chose not to extend their contracts then this will affect clients and we will try to find alternative solutions to enable these clients to complete their training.
Finally moving to your third question, decisions to extend contracts are made at local level, taking into account local labour market needs and provider performance against agreed outcome targets, to ensure that sufficient capacity is maintained to deliver both policy intent and meet local needs.
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