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11 Jul 2005 : Column 680W—continued

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to help existing long-term claimants of incapacity benefit. [11444]

Mrs. McGuire: All existing claimants of incapacity benefit are offered personal help and support to return to work through a range of jobcentre plus and private and voluntary sector provision such as the new deal for
 
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disabled people, work preparation and workstep. Financial incentives which make an eventual return to full-time work more viable are also available through the permitted work rules, benefit run-ons and tax credits.

Our Pathways to Work pilots offer a sophisticated range of back to work and rehabilitation support. We are expanding the coverage of our compulsory work-focused interview (WFI) regime to existing claimants to make sure they are fully aware and are actively encouraged to take up the help and support on offer. Our proposals for reforming incapacity benefit will build on Pathways to Work to enable as many recipients as possible to realise their own aspirations of a return to work. A Green Paper will be published later this year.

Maternity Grant

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the value of the maternity grant was for each year between 1995 and 2002. [7501]

Mr. Plaskitt: A claim for a Sure Start maternity grant may be made from the 29th week of pregnancy and up to three months after the baby is born, adopted or the subject of a parental order in respect of a surrogate birth. Between 1995 and 26 March 2000, social fund maternity payments were paid at the rate of £100 per child.

These were gradually replaced by Sure Start maternity grants from 27 March 2000 and were paid at the rate of £200 per child for babies due, born, adopted or the subject of a parental order in respect of a surrogate birth on or after 11 June 2000. This was increased to £300 from 17 September 2000 for babies due, born, adopted or the subject of a parental order in respect of a surrogate birth on or after 3 December 2000.

From 31 March 2002, the Sure Start maternity grant was increased to £500 per child for babies due, born, adopted or the subject of a parental order in respect of a surrogate birth on or after 16 June 2002.

Medical Assessment Centres

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from which towns and villages in Amber Valley claimants attend medical assessment centres in (a) Derby, (b) Chesterfield, (c) Mansfield and (d) Nottingham. [11220]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available in the requested format.

Information on the postcode areas that make up the Amber Valley constituency, and the medical examination centres that customers from that area would normally travel to for their medical examination, are in the table.
PostcodeMedical assessment centre
NG16Derby
DE21Derby
DE5Derby
DE56Derby
DE6Derby
DE7Derby
DE75Derby
DE4Chesterfield
DE55Chesterfield




Notes:
1.The postcode DE75 falls within the Amber Valley constituency only.
2.Remaining postcodes cover a number of constituencies, including Amber Valley.
Source:
DWP Medical Provision and Contracting Team




 
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Occupational Pensions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he was first contacted by the parliamentary ombudsman in relation to her inquiry into complaints about occupational pensions; and when he completed his submission of evidence to the inquiry. [11616]

Mr. Timms: The parliamentary ombudsman wrote formally to my permanent secretary on 16 November 2004 regarding her investigation into complaints about occupational pensions. An initial response was sent on 20 December. The ombudsman's investigation continues and my officials continue to provide any information requested.

Pension Scheme Records

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will ask the pensions regulator to instruct trustees of all pension schemes winding up either to keep all records or to forward them to the regulator or his Department. [11617]

Mr. Timms: The pensions regulator may by notice in writing require a trustee or manager, professional adviser or employer of an occupational or personal pension scheme to produce any document or provide any other information which is relevant to the exercise of the regulator's functions.

Legislation requires trustees to keep written records in connection with a scheme winding up. The pensions regulator has the power to see all documents relating to the pension scheme. A person who without reasonable excuse neglects or refuses to provide information or produce a document when required to do so is guilty of an offence.

CABINET OFFICE

Civil Service (Offensive Language)

Mr. Beith: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will take steps to discourage the use of offensive and obscene language in the civil service. [11191]

Mr. Hutton: Departments and agencies make clear to their staff through staff handbooks the standards of behaviour expected of them and the action that might be taken against them if their behaviour does not meet these standards. This will include any circumstances in
 
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which the behaviour, action or inaction of individuals significantly disrupts or damages the performance or reputation of the organisation.

Civil Service (Welsh Speakers)

Hywel Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what review the civil service has undertaken of the (a) numbers and (b) location of Welsh speakers employed by the Government and Government agencies outside Wales. [10730]

Mr. Hutton: The numbers of Welsh speakers employed by Government Departments and agencies are not collected centrally. A review of Welsh speaking staff employed outside Wales has not been undertaken.

Civil Service Reform

David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent representations he has received on reforming the civil service; and if he will make a statement. [8051]

Mr. Hutton: I have received a number of representations on reforming the civil service since my appointment. These have focused on the role of the civil service in helping the Government to deliver better public services, covering subjects such as the Government's information technology (IT) strategy to transform public services, better regulation, the involvement of users in public services and the importance of effective leadership development.

The major programme of civil service reform currently under way addresses each of these issues. The latest position on reform was set out by the head of the home civil service on 20 June in the report, Delivery and Values One Year On".

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Consultants

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to issue guidance on effective commissioning for those in the public and voluntary sectors who are commissioning work from external consultants. [7024]

Hilary Benn: I refer my hon. Friend to the response given by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury on 27 June 2005, Official Report, column 1286W.

Education Projects (Great Lakes and Horn of Africa)

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's involvement in education projectsin the (a) Great Lakes and (b) Horn of Africa regions. [6935]

Hilary Benn: In Uganda, over the last 10 years we have provided £75 million of direct assistance to the education sector through projects and targeted budget support. The Ugandan Government prefer donors to provide support for the implementation of its Poverty Eradication Action Plan as general budget support and
 
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this is now the principal means through which the UK supports the continued expansion of the education sector. In addition, mindful of the continuing insecurity in the north, DFID is supporting UNICEF in funding projects through NGOs that are improving access to basic services, including education.

The UK is the co-ordinating donor for the education sector in Rwanda. We have supported education, through general budget support, £21 million was released between 2000 and 2003 via an 'education window', and our current Poverty Reduction Budget Support monitors education performance as an indicator of progress. Since 2001 we have targeted £13 million to a programme of capacity building. DFID has also worked with the Ministry of Education, with a particular focus on improving girls' education. We have also supported a number of measures to help reduce public financing on higher education.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) faces immense challenges. Education—like every other sector—deteriorated hugely under the impact of conflict over the past decade. The DRC is moving towards its first democratic elections since the 1960s and we hope this will signal a new start in DRC where an elected Government, with the support of the international community, can work to deliver services to the Congolese people. DFID is already providing some assistance to education; we have been supporting the Bank in the development of their Education Investment programme, and we are supporting the NGO Catholic Relief Services in its project in basic education in North Sankuru. More broadly, we are now looking hard at what DFID's most effective long-term role should be, as part of the wider donor community, in supporting the strengthening and expansion of service delivery in the DRC.

In Sudan, DFID is supporting UNICEF's work in basic education and the international NGO, GOAL'S country wide literacy and livelihoods programme. In the south we are in the process of developing a framework for service delivery which covers health, water and sanitation as well as education, and we are about to launch the second phase of our education and training scholarships scheme, which will be managed by the British Council (£1.4 million 2005–07). Our support for education in the Horn relates mainly to Ethiopia, with a small programme of support in Somalia.

DFID supports the Government of Ethiopia's Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP), which emphasises primary education, through Poverty Reduction Budget Support (PRBS) to the Government of Ethiopia (£30 million 2004–05). The Department works closely with the Ministry of Education and development partners to improve sector dialogue, policies and strategies in education. Gross enrolment rates in primary education have doubled over the last 10 years. In addition, we provide specific technical support in a number of areas (including education management capacity building and HIV/AIDS and education). In particular, we are supporting the Ministry of Education's Teacher Development Programme through a pooled fund with five other bilateral partners. DFID also has a small Innovatory Fund for Education which supports the development and dissemination of innovative practice in education, particularly by NGOs.
 
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We are playing an active role in the coordination and development of the Somalia education sector with other development partners in Nairobi, including UNESCO, UNICEF, USAID, EU and the private sector. We are supporting UNESCO, Save the Children UK and Africa Educational Trust on projects in Somalia that aim to increase opportunities for girls as well as boys in accessing quality basic education, develop textbooks and establish an examination system.


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