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WORK AND PENSIONS

Departmental Tendering Policy

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on including (a) ethical and (b) environmental factors in tenders for services. [33345]

Mr. Plaskitt: It is the Department's procurement policy to (a) buy sustainable goods and services even if they cost more; (b) make sustainable procurement part of every commercial VFM decision which will be made on the basis of whole life costs; (c) undertake environmental risk assessments of contracting activities and (d) consider ethical and Fair Trade issues across the whole supply chain.

E-benefits Software

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what evaluation he has made of the use of e-benefits software in Rotherham; and if he will make a statement. [34285]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The e-benefits project is one of 22 local e-government national projects sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The project is led by Rotherham MBC. The project's software covers three benefits: housing benefit, council tax benefit and free school meals. These have been evaluated by ODPM, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Cabinet Office. Rotherham is currently working with the ODPM and a consortium of suppliers to make these products available commercially to other local authorities next year.

Financial Assistance Scheme

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the oral answer of 31 October 2005, Official Report, column 610, what progress has been made by the Financial Assistance Scheme Operational Unit; and whether he expects the first payments to be made by the unit by Christmas. [35486]


 
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Mr. Timms: The Financial Assistance Scheme Operational Unit has been gathering information on pension schemes since 1 September. Over 250 schemes have been notified to FAS, of which 51 have so far been accepted as qualifying pension schemes.

The unit has now begun gathering data on individual members and hopes to be in a position to make initial payments to a number of members in December.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many offers of (a) training and (b) other support have been made to individuals by Jobcentre Plus and subsequently rescinded for (i) budgetary or (ii) other reasons in the last 12 months. [28710]

Margaret Hodge: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 7 December 2005:

Mr. Anthony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultations have been undertaken to assess the preferred method of contact for customers of Jobcentre Plus. [30359]

Margaret Hodge: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 7 December 2005:


 
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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the pilots that have been conducted in the Canvey Job Centre in the last five years. [30382]

Margaret Hodge: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 7 December 2005:

Jobseeker's Allowance

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what was the average time taken by local contact centres in England to call back applicants for jobseeker's allowance following the initial application in the last period for which figures are available; and what the target is. [23071]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 28 October 2005]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 7 December 2005:

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