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7 Dec 2005 : Column 1298W—continued

Female Business Women

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to encourage women to start their own businesses. [34693]

Alun Michael: In every area it is the role of the local Business Link to advise and signpost women to the range of help and support that is now available to them. The Government are developing the economic argument for Women's Enterprise and earlier this year published the booklet, Promoting Female Entrepreneurship", which captures headline facts and has been used to stimulate thinking across Government and the regional development agencies.
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The Government have been working with partners within the Business Support arena to improve understanding of the support requirements of female entrepreneurs. This has resulted in a training programme for Business Link advisers called 'the Case', which is currently being rolled out and completes early next year.

In October 2004 the Government reinforced their commitment to Women's Enterprise development with joint Hewitt/Brown formation of the Women's Enterprise Panel. The panel has: (i) developed an action plan to achieve a target of 20 per cent. female business ownership; and (ii) made a recommendation to Government to establish a National Women's Enterprise Task Force.

The Government are working with the British Bankers Association to raise awareness of the full range of finance options available to female entrepreneurs.

There is now a cross-Regional Development Agencies Group on Women's Enterprise. We also have an ongoing programme of work with RDAs and Black and Minority Ethnic women's networks to ensure that women from ethnic minority communities have improved access to Business Support.

To give just one local example, in Coventry, Leigh-Anne Kirby and Lisa Tedds with help from Business Link, the Women's Business Development Agency and the Prince's Trust have successfully set up their Children's Activity Centre business called Monster Mayhem.

There are over 40,000 more women in self-employment now than in spring 1997.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the number of companies with women on their boards. [34694]

Meg Munn: The Female FTSE figures for 2005 were published in November and showed an increase in the number of women on the boards of FTSE 1,000 companies. This index revealed that 78 companies have women on their boards and reflects an increase of 13 per cent. since 2004. Women now make up 10.5 per cent. of board members compared to 5.8 per cent. in 2000.

Similar information for other companies is not available.

Flexitime Rules

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of staff in his Department have flexitime included as a provision of their contract of employment. [28731]

Alan Johnson: Staff appointment contracts set out the total number of hours that staff are required to work and do not include specific provisions for flexitime working. It is a matter for local agreement how these hours are worked, either on the flexibility of start and finish times or allowing staff to work a more formal flexible working hours scheme-so long as an agreed central core time is worked each day and conditioned hours worked each week. Since it is a matter of local agreement, the Department does not keep a central record of those staff who work under a formal flexible
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working hours scheme. Information on each member of staffs local flexible working arrangements could therefore only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Literacy and Numeracy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employees in his Department requested training to improve their (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills in each year since 2002. [23414]

Alan Johnson: Figures for literacy and numeracy take up in the Department are not held centrally. These items are discussed and dealt with locally in each group within DTI. Individuals discuss and review their training and development needs with their line managers as part of the performance management process. Any skills gaps in literacy or numeracy are identified and the appropriate help in a number of ways, for example, through training courses, on the job training or the Skills for Life Programme at an external learning establishment. Staff can also approach their union learning representative for advice and sources of help on how to improve their literacy and numeracy.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much his Department spent on in-house training on (a) literacy and (b) numeracy (i) in total and (ii) per head, in each year since 2002. [23437]

Alan Johnson: The Department does not run any specific in-house training on basic literacy or numeracy skills although courses in finance and in writing skills which will cover literacy and numeracy are available. DTI training budgets are devolved among groups, therefore figures for how much DTI spends on in-house training are not available.

Ministerial Travel

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on how many occasions since 7 July 2005 he has used the London Underground in connection with his official duties. [35020]

Alan Johnson: None. Just as before 7 July 2005, I walk to official engagements where possible and use the Government Car Service when necessary.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will answer questions (a) 26315, (b) 26316 and (c) 26317 tabled by the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon on 3 November 2005. [33009]

Alan Johnson: I refer the hon. Member to his questions which were answered on 23 November 2005, Official Report, column 2045W and 2 December 2005, Official Report, column 884W.

Small Firms Loan Guarantees

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the expenditure was on the small firms loan guarantees scheme in each financial year from 2000–01 (a) in total and (b) in each (i) region and (ii) county in (A) cash and (B) real terms; and what this was in (1) cash and (2) real terms expenditure per head of population. [34400]

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Alun Michael: Expenditure on the small firms loan guarantee (SFLG) occurs when a borrower defaults and the participating lender affected makes a claim against the Government's guarantee.

The overall expenditure in each of the last five years is set out in table 1, both in cash terms and in real terms, ie reduced by the amount of the SFLG premiums collected from borrowers and recoveries arising from previous
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claims, as well as the real terms expenditure per head of population. Regional distributions of the percentage of cash costs for each of the last four years are provided in table 2.

Because of the way in which data are collated disproportionate cost would be incurred to provide county level expenditure and cost per head details for the whole of the United Kingdom.
Table 1: Annual SFLG expenditure 2001–05 before and after borrowers' premiums

Cash cost (£ million)Premiums and recoveries
(£ million)
Real (net) cost (£ million)Real cost per head

Table 2: Regional distribution of annual SFLG cash expenditure 2001–05

South East10.2813.3614.9915.44
South West10.967.4110.359.75
East of England10.3912.4910.578.69
East Midlands7.654.918.167.14
West Midlands7.629.719.839.17
North West9.478.947.149.14
Yorkshire and Humber6.548.246.507.54
North East3.873.682.252.86
Northern Ireland0.160.552.510.29

Table nn: Annual regional distribution of SFLG loans by number and value

RegionNumber£ millionNumber£ millionNumber£ millionNumber£ millionNumber£ million
South East80151.382955.186166.483459.41,09575.7
South West47524.544425.137023.764241.474846.3
East of England(3)(3)(3)(3)(3)(3)53236.667147.4
East Midlands86347.777046.465542.741026.849131.0
West Midlands40620.336920.635722.549830.363639.7
North West39621.245125.741827.751138.360544.9
Yorks and Humber32018.333418.629719.344733.956537.4
North East1517.01265.61268.317912.123615.3
Northern Ireland363.4373.9565.9463.7444.0
Average loan (£)55,765

(3) Figures for years up to and including 2002–03 combine London with South East and East of England with East Midlands.
1. Loan values are rounded to nearest £100,000 for regional figures and nearest £ million for totals.
2. Prior to 1 April 2003 a guarantee rate of either 70 per cent. or 85 per cent. applied to SFLG loans dependent upon the age of the borrowing business. A single guarantee rate of 75 per cent. applied to all loans guaranteed from 1 April 2003 but the change in guarantee rate was not applied retrospectively to loans guaranteed prior to that date.

SFLG Cost: Liability Ratios

The ratios of the gross and net costs of SFLG to the extent of the Department's potential exposure (contingent liabilities) for 2003–04 were 8.5 per cent. and 6.5 per cent. respectively, based on gross and net expenditure on demands of £53.563 million and £41.053 million respectively during the year and liabilities assessed at £633.8 million as at 31 March 2004.

The ratios of the gross and net costs of SFLG to the extent of the Department's potential exposure (contingent liabilities) for 2004–05 were 7.7 per cent. and 5.3 per cent. respectively, based on gross and net expenditure on demands of £58.720 million and £40.360 million respectively during the year and liabilities assessed at £764.3 million as at 31 March 2005.
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The way in which liabilities are modelled has changed and so it is not possible to provide directly comparable ratios for earlier years.

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