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Jobcentre Plus (Staff Training)

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what advice and training is available for employees of Jobcentre Plus on autistic spectrum disorders. [4429]

Margaret Hodge: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. She will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Lesley Strathie to Mrs. Janet Dean, dated 22 June 2005:

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Pathways to Work

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people on incapacity benefit in the Pathways to Work pilot areas have refused to engage with the job-search and support staff; and if he will make a statement. [2107]

Margaret Hodge: People claiming incapacity benefits in Pathways to Work areas are not required to undertake job-search activities. However they may be sanctioned for failing to attend or take part in a work focused interview (WFI) with a Jobcentre Plus personal adviser.

Between April 2004 and March 2005 92,420 people entered Pathways to Work pilot programmes, of whom 28,949 people had an initial WFI. 17,363 people went on to have one or more repeat WFIs. In the period from December 2004 to April 2005 182 sanctions were imposed. Some individuals may have had more than one sanction imposed on them so the figure is a close approximation but not the exact number of individuals sanctioned.

Private Finance Projects

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the private finance initiative and public-private partnership projects his Department is undertaking; and what the status of each is. [2366]

Margaret Hodge: The Department for Work and Pensions is currently engaged in 11 public-private partnerships, of which nine are private finance initiatives. The status of each of these is operational. These are a combination of those let to April 2001 by the former Department for Social Security and the Employment Service, which was an executive agency of the former Department for Education and Employment; and those let subsequently by the DWP.

The nine DWP private finance initiatives are:

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The Department's private finance initiatives and annual expenditure are all disclosed in the Department's Resource Accounts. This information is recorded in the operating cost statement. There is also a separate section, "Commitments under PFI Contracts", that lists all the PFI contracts and discloses the total payments to which the Department is committed in the next financial year.

The Department's Resource Account is available in the Library and can be accessed at:

In addition the Department has two public-private partnership agreements—a Lead Service Provider agreement made with Affinity in September 2000 and a Network and Office Service Provider (NOSP) agreement made with Arcway in November 2000.

Unemployment (Young People)

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government are taking to encourage unemployed young people to learn new skills. [2955]

Margaret Hodge: The Government recognise the importance of ensuring that our current and future work force have access to relevant training to ensure they have the skills required by employers to get into and get on in work.

From 1997 to March 2005, 1.22 million young people aged between 18 and 24 have improved their job prospects and raised their skills levels through New Deal for Young People (NDYP), and of these 460,550 have moved into work. NDYP offers four options; a period of full-time education and training, voluntary work with training, participation on an environmental task force which combines training with community focused work experience and a subsided employment option. Skills training is available on all four options.

From April 2004 we gave New Deal personal advisers the flexibility to individually tailor provision to allow participants to move freely between options. Young people are encouraged to take part in the options by a weekly "top-up" payment of £15.38. Those who refuse to take part in the options period can face benefit sanctions.

Jobcentre Plus Districts are also working with local Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs), through annual joint delivery plans. These ensure that customers without a qualification, or with less than a level 2
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qualification, are given the opportunity to access skills training funded by the LSC where that training is needed to gain sustainable, productive employment.

There are also opportunities for Jobcentre Plus clients to train in the work environment. Access to training in employment has increased through the successful Employer Training Pilots. The Government's decision to develop these principles through a national Employer Training Programme will further increase these opportunities. The Skills for Business Network also works with the LSC and Jobcentre Plus to increase access to Modern Apprenticeships by disadvantaged young people and adults.

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