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David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many of his Department's employees who are within one year of the official retirement age are on extended sick leave; 
Mr. Woodward: Since a major redevelopment programme at the Ulster Hospital was announced in 2001 more than £38 million has been invested, including the construction of new Maternity and Renal Units. My Department has also recently approved an additional £62 million which will allow the Trust to complete Phase A of the redevelopment programme. The main feature of Phase A will be a new multi-story critical care block incorporating theatres, critical care unit, laboratories and sterile services. To facilitate this development and to ease car parking congestion on the site, a new 500-space terraced car park will be constructed. The car park is expected to be complete in early 2007 when work on the multi-storey block will commence.
The Trust has also been allocated £1.5 million to invest in conceptual design for the remainder of the hospital site. This includes the appointment of a specialist Exemplar Design Team which will design the new hospital complex and assist with the preparation of a business case that will provide the basis for approving the balance of the planned investment, estimated at £240 million.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from which company the computer-assisted mass appraisal application was purchased by the Valuation and Land Agency; and what the total cost was of the contract and associated liabilities. 
Angela E. Smith: The Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal application was purchased by Valuation and Lands Agency from a consortium of companies lead by ESRI Ireland Ltd. and including Almy Gloudemans Jacob and Denne, Novalis Technologies and Causeway Data Communication Ltd.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what training (a) videos and (b) DVDs the Valuation and Lands Agency has produced for its staff and contractors in relation to (i) domestic and (ii) business rates (A) valuations, (B) revaluations and (C) computer-assisted mass appraisal. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to his answer of 5 December 2005, Official Report, columns 10823W, on the Valuation and Lands Agency, from which Government agency the staff are seconded. 
Angela E. Smith:
The two staff are qualified statisticians seconded from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, an Agency of the Department of Finance and Personnel.
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Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have found work as a result of Building on New Deal since its launch; whether his Department retained its target to get 600,000 people into work through the scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 24 January 2006]: In November 2004 we published a paper setting out our proposals to pilot Building on New Deal (BoND) in 11 Jobcentre Plus Districts. Since that announcement, we have undertaken detailed planning to ensure that the flexibilities set out in the BoND strategy paper can be fully tested.
Margaret Hodge: The seventh annual 'Opportunity for all' report (Cm 6673) sets out the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and reports progress against a range of indicators. Detailed information about the number and proportion of children living in low income households is published in Households Below Average Income 1994/952003/04", available in the Library. The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.
|FRS (GB)||Before housing costs||After housing costs|
|FRS (GB)||Before housing costs||After housing costs|
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of children in poverty were estimated to be living in the most disadvantaged areas in each year since 1997; and in which areas the remaining children living in poverty were resident. 
Detailed information about the proportion of children living in low income households is published in Households Below Average Income 199495 to 200304", available in the Library. Information is sourced from the family resources survey (FRS), which does not allow for robust estimates below Government office region level. Information is not currently available which enables separate identification of households on the family resources survey by whether they live in disadvantaged areas. Information on deprivation for disadvantaged areas is available in the Office for Deputy Prime Minister's publication The English Indices of Deprivation (2004)".
The seventh annual 'Opportunity for all' report (Cm 6673) sets out the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and reports progress against a range of indicators, and includes seven communities indicators, which measure outcomes of those in deprived areas compared to the rest of the population.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether it is his policy to increase benefit entitlements to levels that guarantee all children are above the poverty line. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he makes comparisons of child poverty levels in the UK with levels in other developed countries; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: International comparisons are important because we aspire to be among the very best performers in Europe on child poverty, on a par with countries such as Sweden and Denmark. A focus on income before housing costs, as adopted in our spending review 2004 target, supports this as this measure is used across other European Union countries.
'Measuring child poverty', published in December 2003, compares findings with our European Union counterparts. It showed that the UK had the highest child poverty rate in Europe in 1999 (29 per cent.), but
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according to latest data for 2003, we are now closer to the EU average of (23 per cent.). European comparisons are made using data from the European Household Panel Study, and are not comparable with figures using the Family Resources Survey. Data from 2003 remains the most up to date as this was the last year that data was produced for the UK using this dataset. UK comparisons across Europe will be measured using the European Union Survey of Income and Living Conditions (EUSILC) from autumn 2006.
'Child Poverty in Rich Nations 2005', a UNICEF report on child poverty, highlights the progress we have started to make in halving child poverty by 2010 and eliminating it by 2020. By 2020, we want to be comparable to the very best countries in the world. Where the UK had a child poverty rate on the UNICEF measure of 15.4 per cent. in 2004, Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) had rates of less than 5 per cent.
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