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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he takes to ensure that people with a learning disability are given the right support to find jobs they (a) wish to do and (b) are capable of doing; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: Jobcentre Plus provides additional help for those people who face particular disadvantage in the labour market and who wish to move into a job. This is provided primarily through personal advisers who provide information, advice and guidance to help people identify and overcome barriers to employment. Alongside this, there is a range of employment and training related opportunities to help overcome specific issues such as language difficulties, and physical and mental health problems, including help for people with a learning disability.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking if he will increase the number of staff answering calls on the national insurance number hotline. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
It may be helpful if I outline the way in which customers apply for a National Insurance number. We do not currently operate a National Insurance number hotline. We are, however, presently introducing a new centralised computerised appointments booking process in order to reduce the time it takes for customers to receive a National Insurance number. We are implementing this new process on a phased timetable. This means that at the moment two systems are in operation.
The new process introduces the use of a national contact centre with a single 0845 number for customers wishing to book an interview to apply for a National Insurance number. Appointments for interviews are made and confirmation of the appointment is sent to the customer immediately. Evaluation in those regions where this new process has been implemented has shown that 97% of all calls are answered, of which 92% of calls are answered within 20 seconds. The average speed of answer is 8 seconds.
This new system will be introduced shortly in your constituency. In the meantime, customers in Shropshire needing a National Insurance number should contact the Jobcentre Plus office at Telford, using the dedicated telephone number.
Both voluntary and private sector organisations deliver a number of different programmes which support Pathways to Work. Some of these programmes are specific to Pathways to Work (in-work support and condition management programmes), while others are delivered nationally across Jobcentre Plus, for example WORKSTEP and new deal for disabled people.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list his Department's contracts with (a) private sector and (b) voluntary sector providers of services outsourced by Jobcentre Plus in (i) Pathways to Work areas for each of the last two years and (ii) non-Pathways to Work areas for each of the last five years; and what the value was of each contract. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking if he will list his Department's contracts with (a) private sector and (b) voluntary sector providers of services outsourced by Jobcentre Plus in (i) Pathways to Work areas for each of the last two years and (ii) non-Pathways to Work areas for each of the last five years; and what the value was of each. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
We do not currently have available the requested breakdown of these providers between private and voluntary organisations. This information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. However, Jobcentre Plus is currently implementing a new system which will enable information on programmes and providers to be obtained and collated more readily for contracts in the future.
Mr. Timms: The regulatory impact assessment (RIA) that accompanied the Pensions Bill 2004 addressed the effect of the pension protection levy on businesses, and was agreed by Parliament when the Bill was passed.
The RIA specifically considered the impact on businesses with fewer than 50 employees. It identified that impact on small businesses (i.e. those with fewer
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than 50 employees) will be limited overall by the fact that few such businesses run defined benefit pension schemes, and so are unlikely to be affected by the pension protection levy. The RIA estimates that less than 2.2 per cent. of the total cost of the Pension Protection Fund would be met by small businesses.
Responsibility for consulting on and setting the level of the pension protection levy rests with the board of the Pension Protection Fund. Following 17 weeks of consultation two consultation documents were produced plus one update. The aim was to strike a balance between affordability and security. Representatives from small business were consulted as part of the process. This all resulted in a report on 16 December 2005, including an estimate of the pension protection levy amount. This is available on the Pension Protection Fund's website.
Mr. Timms: Information in the following table was provided by the Pensions Regulator and shows the number of schemes that are currently in the process of winding up and the number of schemes that have wound up, for each year since 2 April 1997.
|Scheme status winding up||Scheme status wound up|
|Effective date scheme status was changed on register||Number of schemes||Total membership||Number of schemes||Total membership|
|2 April 1997 to 31 March 1998||57||2,648||8,248||54,439|
|1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999||128||4,118||7,708||71,351|
|1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000||2,909||52,051||8,462||64,608|
|1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001||1,035||29,760||6,720||65,510|
|1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002||1,443||43,015||5,822||128,060|
|1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003||1,129||54,528||6,250||145,039|
|1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004||1,171||51,549||6,316||127,839|
|1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005||564||59,767||4,328||78,878|
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