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7 Feb 2006 : Column 1165W—continued

Income Support

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the annual cost of income support for single parents who are not required to work due to the age of their children; and if he will make a statement. [44776]

Mr. Plaskitt: A person's status as a lone parent entitles them to claim income support until their youngest child reaches 16. Lone parents in receipt of
 
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income support are not required to seek work but do have to attend work focused interviews. The expenditure on income support for lone parents reduced from £4,937 million 1 in 1997–98 to £4,602 million 1 in 2004–05.

Since 1997 the number of lone parents getting income support has reduced by 22 per cent. The success of new deal for lone parents has been a major contributing factor to the increase in lone parent employment in every region, the reduction in the number of children in workless households and the reduction in child poverty.

Jobcentres

Mr. McFall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applicants there have been for a crisis loan in the last six months in the JobcentrePlus offices in West Dunbartonshire; and how many calls from people applying for crisis loans have gone unanswered. [46641]

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:

Learning Disability

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what system is in place to monitor the numbers of people with a learning disability who are on benefit and using Jobcentre Plus employment programmes; and if he will make a statement. [47251]

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:


 
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Lone Parents

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the impact on the rate of movement of lone parents into jobs of the outsourcing of new deal for lone parent provision; [44929]

(2) what the rate of movement was of lone parents into jobs (a) in London areas where provision for lone parents is outsourced and (b) other areas in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what the rate was in those London areas prior to outsourcing. [44930]

Margaret Hodge: Multiple provider employment zones have been providing employment support to lone parents since April 2004. Single provider zones have been providing lone parent support since October 2003. In London employment zone areas, employment support is provided to lone parents through the zones rather than through NDLP. Outside London, lone parents in employment zone areas can choose whether to receive help through employment zones or NDLP.

Information on lone parent employment rates for employment zone areas is not available, either before or after the outsourcing of lone parent provision. This information is not available below Government Office regional level.

More than 423,000 lone parents have already been helped into work through NDLP and more than 4,200 jobs have been secured by lone parents through employment zones. Information on lone parent jobs secured through employment zones in the last 12 months, broken down by zone, is in the table.
Employment zones—lone parents into jobs 1 December 2004 to 30 November 2005

LocationJobs
Multiple Providers
Birmingham371
Brent and Haringey637
Glasgow352
Liverpool and Sefton380
Southwark544
Tower Hamlets and Newham282
Single Providers
Brighton18
Doncaster195
Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland100
North West Wales25
Nottingham75
Plymouth6
Heads of the Valleys, Caerphilly and Torfaen71



Note:
Data comparing employment zone job outcomes with NDLP job outcomes prior to outsourcing is not available.
Source:
Department for Work and Pensions Procurement Division.



 
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An evaluation of employment zones is currently ongoing and analysis of data will examine the performance of employment zones in relation to selected Jobcentre Plus comparison sites. This analysis will examine performance by client groups including lone parents and we expect to complete this by the autumn and publish results by the end of the year.

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to publish evaluations of the impact on numbers of lone parents entering employment of (a) the work search premium, (b) discovery weeks, (c) in work credit, (d) extended schools child care pilots, (e) the in work emergency fund and (f) employment zones. [48297]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 2 February 2006]: Evaluation of the impact on the numbers of lone parents entering employment through a range of initiatives including the work search premium, the in-work credit and the extended schools child care pilots is ongoing and we expect to publish results in the autumn.

The in-work emergency fund (IWEF) is being evaluated as part of the evaluation of new deal plus for lone parents and we expect to publish this report in December. Early qualitative evidence on the IWEF will be available in the forthcoming report: 'Work Focused Interviews and Lone Parent Initiatives: Further analysis of policies and pilots' which will be published on the 16 February and will be placed in the Library. There are no plans to publish any assessment of discovery weeks.

Evaluation of employment zones is currently ongoing and analysis of data will examine the performance of employment zones in relation to selected Jobcentre Plus comparison sites. This analysis will examine performance by client group including lone parents. We expect to complete this by the autumn and publish results by the end of the year.

Three recent publications include qualitative analysis of lone parents' experience of employment zones and relevant information can be found in the following reports: Evaluation of the Single Provider Employment Zone Extension, DWP Research Report No.312, 2006, Chapter 6; Evaluation of Multiple Provider Employment Zones: Early Implementation Issues, DWP Research Report No.310, 2006, Chapter 7; Evaluation of Single Provider Employment Zone Extensions to Young People, Lone Parents and Early Entrants: Interim Report, DWP Research Report no. 228, 2005, Chapter 7, all of which are available in Library.

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the forecast cost is of introducing work-focused interviews every three months for lone parents whose youngest child is 14 and who have been on benefit for more than a year; [48298]

(2) how many personal advisers will be needed for work focused interviews (a) every three months for lone parents on benefit more than a year whose youngest child is 14 years and (b) every six months to all lone parents on benefit for more than a year. [48301]


 
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Margaret Hodge [holding answer 2 February 2006]: Quarterly work focused interviews were introduced in October 2005 for lone parents claiming income support (IS) with a youngest child aged at least 14. For lone parents who remain on IS until their youngest child reaches 16, this will involve a series of up to eight work focused interviews over a two year period, which is six more than under previous arrangements. The interviews aim to help as many lone parents as possible move into work, or closer to the labour market, before their child reaches 16 by providing information, advice and guidance on work opportunities and the range of help on offer.

We estimate a total expenditure of approximately £4.3 million on this initiative during 2005–06, £0.7 million of which represents the cost of an anticipated increased participation in new deal for lone parents resulting from the work focused interviews. It is too early to confirm allocations for 2006–07.

Potentially all Jobcentre Plus lone parent advisers could be involved in delivering these quarterly work focused interviews, but funding for the initiative is based on a planning assumption of the equivalent of an additional 65 full time staff for the period October 2005 to March 2006 or 130 for a full year.

Currently, lone parents who have been on income support for more than a year receive an annual work focused interview which provides information, advice and guidance on work opportunities and the range of help and support on offer. Results from these have shown that such interviews help lone parents think about work and many go on to prepare for it by joining new deal for lone parents.

In our Welfare Reform Green Paper: 'A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work', we set out our proposals to increase the frequency of interviews for lone parents on income support for more than a year to six monthly. This will build on the above success by providing additional opportunities for lone parents to meet with a lone parent adviser.

We are also proposing changes to our quarterly work focused interview regime which will now be widened to all lone parents on income support with a youngest child aged at least 11.

These proposals are currently out for public consultation and the delivery details are still being developed.


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