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Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people are employed in the Environment Agency's customer service team; and what the (a) employment and (b) other costs have been to date. 
Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency's National Customer Contact Centre currently employs 70 people. Staff costs for 200405 were £1.04 million, with total operational costs of £1.27 million. This year's total budget is £1.6 million, of which £1.4 million will be spent on staff.
The agency's National Customer Contact Centre was set up in 2002. Information system development costs, including implementation, support and maintenance for 200205 were £2.816 million. Wider project costsincluding accommodation set up, recruitment and other project costs for 200205 were £889,000.
As well as a small customer service team in its Head Office (employing 2.5 full time equivalents), staff in the devolved teams working across England and Wales cover a variety of external engagement tasks, including customer and stakeholder relations. For much of the work of the Environment Agency there is no straightforward divide between customer services and improving the way the agency functions. Beyond this, the Environment Agency has signed up to the Customer Charter and regards all staff as having a customer service role.
10 Oct 2005 : Column 137W
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the media budget of (a) the Environment Agency and (b) Environment Agency retail is in 200506; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency's 200506 budget for media relations activity is £1,470,000. This is comprised almost entirely of staff costs, with a small spend on supporting activities including training, monitoring and evaluation to enhance the effectiveness of its media communication activities for the benefit of the public.
The Environment Agency places significant importance on disseminating information and advice and accounting publicly for its activities to the widest possible audience in a cost-effective way. It therefore employs dedicated press officers in its head office, and in each of its eight regions, to make the public aware of the agency and its responsibilities, to reinforce its regulatory role and generally to ensure strong coverage of environmental issues. It strives to reach national, regional and local audiences by securing editorial coverage in all types of media.
The media is also a vital communication channel during civil emergencies, including flooding and environmental incidents. The Environment Agency's press officers provide a 24 hour service, 365 days of the year, to ensure that important information can always be targeted to appropriate news and other media outlets. In the event of flooding, press officers are in the front line in disseminating warnings, information and advice to the public via the media.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Department has spent promoting equality and diversity in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Jim Knight: Defra is fully committed to the diversity and equality agenda and has policies 'embedded' throughout its HR policies as well as processes in place to ensure that there is no unfair discrimination on any grounds.
Defra operates in a global market, and the UK is a multi-cultural society. Defra needs representatives from different ethnic backgrounds and different minority groups to compete in business terms. It needs staff who can understand its customers and their cultures, who can communicate with them effectively, reflecting the communities in which Defra works. These include the farming, fishing, food and water industries, together with other industries challenged to meet consumers' requirements, as well as the public itself living within either rural or urban areas.
Defra's diversity and equality policies are promoted through a number of initiatives. These include funding of specific diversity and equality-related training courses; e-learning diversity training packages; in-house staff networks, which provide support for staff in minority groups; and mentoring schemes for minority groups.
|200102||Training||Diversity and Equality Training (Legislative Compliance and Diversity Management)||35,000|
|Staff networks 4||In-house||1,300|
|Diversity and Equality Training (Legislative Compliance and Diversity Management)||(42)100,200|
|(2002 2004)(43)||Pathways and Disability||7,000|
|Bursary (mentoring schemes)||5,000|
|Staff networks 4||In-house||374|
|Work Placements||Fast Stream-Ethnic Minority Scheme||6,360|
|Disabled Candidate Scheme||6,272|
|200304||Training||Diversity and Equality Training (Legislative Compliance and Diversity Management)||52,800|
|PC ROM e-learning multi-media package(44)||55,000|
|Staff networks 5||In-house||3,669|
|Work Placements||Fast StreamEthnic Minority Scheme||6,840|
|200405||Training||Diversity and Equality Training (Legislative Compliance and Diversity Management)||42,400|
|Staff networks 5||In-house||7,140|
|2005 to date||Training||RRA Legislative Compliance||9,200|
|Staff networks 6||In-house||368|
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects authorisation to be given for a start to be made on a flood defence scheme for the Cliffe Cell in Lewes. 
Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency consider that the Cliffe Cell in Lewes is unlikely to qualify for funding for at least the next three years as the assessed priority score for the scheme is below the currently indicated thresholds.
|Bankruptcies of self-employed individuals||Company insolvencies(46)||Total|
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