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Child Poverty

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of housing costs on child poverty; and if he will make a statement. [24226]

Margaret Hodge: Specific information regarding low income for Great Britain is available in Households Below Average Income 1994/95–2003/04". The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income. Figures are provided for children based on distributions sourced from the FamilyResources Survey using two definitions of net disposable income. One uses a concept before, and one after, housing costs have been deducted from household income. Housing costs include rent, mortgage interest payments, water rates or water charges, structural insurance, ground rent and service charges.

However, poverty is about more than low income. It is also about health, education, housing and the quality of the environment. The seventh annual Opportunity for all report, published recently, sets out the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and presents information on the indicators used to measure progress against this.

Housing is an important part of the Government's strategy on poverty and social exclusion. Opportunity for All monitors the proportion of children in non-decent homes, and also includes an indicator monitoring the proportion of families with children in temporary accommodation.

The document 'Measuring child poverty' published in December 2003 outlines the Government's measure of UK child poverty for the long-term. This includes a material deprivation measure which will capture children in families with high unavoidable costs, such as housing costs or childcare, which can adversely impact on living standards and leave people with low disposable incomes. Because it incorporates a new—higher—relative income line it will count some children as in
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poverty for the first time. The quality of housing will be directly measured as part of the material deprivation indicators, and will include housing that is poorly repaired, overcrowded or cold.

Copies of all documents are available in the Library.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made towards meeting the Government's 2005 child poverty targets in Tamworth constituency; and if he will make a statement. [37820]

Margaret Hodge: The Government's target, set in the 2002 Spending Review, is to reduce the number of children in low-income households by at least a quarter by 2004–05, as a contribution towards the broader target of halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020.

As set out in Household Below Average Income (HBAI), between 1998–99 and 2003–04 (the latest data available) the number of children living in relative low-income households fell by 500,000 on a before housing costs basis and by 600,000 on an after housing costs basis.

The Government are broadly on track to meet their 2004–05 target. Final data for the 2004–05 target will be available in spring 2006.

The data source does not allow us to provide robust estimates below regional level.

Chronic Back Pain

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken in his Department to help civil servants with chronic back pain. [33872]

Mrs. McGuire: When faced with staff who suffer chronic back pain, a line manager is required to consider and, where appropriate, make reasonable adjustments. They will take into account the nature and severity of the disability or the underlying medical condition, and the treatment being received.

In addition, the Department provides support to individuals who suffer medical conditions, which may be affected by their working environment. Our Occupational Health Provider carries out full workplace assessments and adaptations (for example a special chair) are put in place as a result of recommendations they make. In order for this process to be streamlined, a pilot is currently under way involving all parties; Occupational Health, facilities managers, procurement and equipment suppliers, to put in place adaptations in the shortest possible time. The Department does not take a legalistic approach to the Disability Discrimination Act, in that, anyone identified as needing a workplace adaptation will be accommodated where it is reasonable to do so.

Child Support Agency

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans there are to apply retrospection to Child Support Agency cases pre-dating 3 March 2003
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where a non-resident parent is found to be liable for lower child maintenance payments under the new system of calculating child maintenance. [36874]

Mr. Plaskitt: There are no plans to apply any retrospection to any Child Support Agency cases when they are moved to the new scheme.

Department IT

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent action he has taken to ensure that departmental staff involved with the restructuring of IT provision within his Department have the necessary skills. [28709]

Mrs. McGuire: In order to deliver its ambitious programme of business transformation and modernisation, so that welfare reform can be delivered more efficiently to its customers, my department is acting to recruit key staff to improve its in-house skills.

Following open competition the Department has made more than 90 professional appointments, providing the Department with IT capability to match the best in industry. The Department has appointed a Chief Information Officer (CIO) with extensive experience in the delivery of major IT and business change programmes. The CIO aims to ensure the delivery of effective, reliable and value for money information systems and services. Other appointments have been made at Director level, in the areas of project management, programme management, portfolio management, IT strategy and development and commercial management.

In addition the Department is establishing robust competency frameworks for all its IT specialists. These frameworks are aligned with Professional Skills for Government established by the Cabinet Office and the Transformational Government strategy published on 2 November 2005.

Departmental Staff

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the 10 highest-paid employees in his Department, broken down by (a) job title and (b) salary including bonuses; and whether the individual concerned is (i) a civil servant and (ii) a contractor in each case. [27437]

Mrs. McGuire: The 10 highest-paid employees in my Department by job title and pay range are shown in the following table:
Job titlePay range
Permanent Secretary, DWP£130,350 to £209,477
Chief Executive, Jobcentre Plus£130,350 to £209,477
Group Director and Chief Information Officer, Programme and Systems Delivery Group£93,139 to £198,197
Group Finance Director£93,139 to £198,197
Chief Executive, The Pension Service£93,139 to £198,197
Chief Executive, Child Support Agency£93,139 to £198,197
Chief Technology Officer, Programme and Systems Delivery Group£75,607 to £159,659
Information Systems Programme Director, Jobcentre Plus£75,607 to £159,659
Strategic IT Sourcing Director Programme and Systems Delivery Group£75,607 to £159,659
Strategic Programme Director, Child Support Agency£75,607 to £159,659

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All of the above are civil servants. Individual salaries are not disclosed, in order to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned. I refer the hon. Member to the DWP's Departmental Report, a copy of which has been placed in the Library, for the salary of the Permanent Secretary, the Chief Executive of The Pension Service and the Group Finance Director.

Information on Civil Service reward is available at:

Disability and Carers Service

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether a Minister in his Department is planned to be nominated to take responsibility for liaison with the Office for Disability Issues; and if he will make a statement. [37081]

Mrs. McGuire: The Office for Disability Issues is a cross-government unit which reports to the Minister for Disabled People in this Department, who has lead responsibility, in collaboration with colleagues across Government, for driving forward the Government's 20year strategy to deliver substantive equality for disabled people.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the national targets are for the disability and carers service; and what the performance of offices in South Devon is in relation to those targets. [36575]

Mrs. McGuire: The administration of disability and carers service is a matter for the chief executive of that agency, Mr. Terry Moran. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Terry Moran, dated 19 December 2005:

EventNational targets 2005–06
DLA Normal Rules Claims39
DLA Reconsiderations35
DLA Appeals37
DLA Decision Maker Accuracy90%
AA Normal Rules Claims22
AA Reconsiderations35
AA Appeals35
AA Decision Maker Accuracy90%
CA Claims22
CA Appeals35
CA Decision Maker Accuracy96%

For DLA/AA Claims, Reconsiderations, Appeals and CA Claims and Appeals the national target is an Actual Average Clearance Target (AACT), given in working days. The AACT is calculated by, adding up the total cumulative days taken to clear all cases and dividing this by the total number of cases cleared.

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No AACT data is available specifically for the South Devon area. However, the information in the table below provides the year-to-date (YTD) performance, against the national targets, for Bristol Disability Benefits Centre (DBC).
EventBristol DBC YTD AACT
DLA Normal Rules New Claims34.4
DLA Reconsiderations26.4
DLA Appeals25.6
AA Normal Rules New Claims20.7
AA Reconsiderations24.1
AA Appeals25.6

1.Bristol DBC deals with the whole of South West of England from Gloucester in the north, Swindon and Bournemouth to the east, through to the Isle of Scilly.
2.Decision Maker accuracy is only reported at national level.

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