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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1671W—continued

Civil Servants

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many civil servants working in his Department are aged between 18 and 25 years. [38530]


 
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Mrs. McGuire: As at 31 October 2005, a total 10,123 civil servants were working in the Department who were aged between 18 and 25 years. This figure includes temporary staff.

Consultants

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the main (a) technology suppliers, (b) consultancy firms and (c) strategy consultants engaged by the Department in each year since 1997; and how much was spent on each. [44505]

Margaret Hodge: Information is provided for the years since the Department for Work and Pensions was formed in 2001. The Department's information systems categorise expenditure into IS/IT suppliers and consultancy. The consultancy category will also contain strategy consultants but this expenditure could not be isolated without incurring disproportionate cost. The Department's expenditure with its top five IS/IT and consultancy suppliers by expenditure in 2004–05 and the expenditure with these firms in the three earlier years is provided in the following table. The figures provided relate to IS/IT and consultancy expenditure with these suppliers in the year, a number of suppliers provide both types of service to the Department.
DWP expenditure with its top five IS/IT and consultancy suppliers since 2001–02
£ million

IS/IT suppliers2001–022002–032003–042004–05
EDS439.7715.6834.7705.6
BT103.5135.7201.6172.9
IBM0.219.459.352.0
Computacentre55.595.277.134.4
Oracle Corporation000.318.7
Consultancy
ATOS Origin(40)58.744.28.225.9
Accenture004.045.9
Capgemini2.33.57.517.9
Booz Alien Hamilton0030.716.9
PA Consulting4.912.317.513.6


(40) ATOS Origin acquired SchlumbergerSema in September 2003, figures for 2001–02 relate to SchlumbergerSema.

Council Tax Benefits (West Midlands)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Coventry, South and (b) the West Midlands region are (i) entitled to council tax benefits and (ii) receiving council tax benefits; and if he will make a statement. [50074]

Mr. Plaskitt: The latest available information on unclaimed council tax benefit is in Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take Up in 2003/2004", a copy of which is in the Library.

Information on council tax benefit claimants is not available by parliamentary constituency. As at August 2005 there were 488,200 households in the West Midlands and 32,100 households in the Coventry city council area receiving council tax benefit.

Deduction from Benefits

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the impact on the extent of financial
 
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exclusion has been of the introduction of the scheme to enable lenders to recover debts through deduction from benefits. [49261]

Mr. Plaskitt: DWP plays an active part in contributing to the Government's aims of ensuring that people who are financially excluded have access to low cost credit in a way that does not encourage vulnerable people into unsustainable debt.

In addition to administration of the Growth Fund, the Department is working with the Treasury to set up a facility whereby certain low cost lenders will be able to apply for deductions from benefits in the event of default. These measures should help increase the supply of affordable credit and reduce the need for people without access to mainstream banking to rely on high cost lenders.

Departmental Estate

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) land and (b) property is owned by his Department in Forest of Dean constituency. [47256]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department's estate has been sold or transferred under a PFI partnership deal to Land Securities Trillium (LST) and in return for the payment of a unitary charge, LST is responsible for providing a full facilities management service across the estate. Therefore the Department does not own any (a) land or (b) property in the Forest of Dean constituency.

The Rent Service and The Health and Safety Executive are not part of the Department PFI arrangement, but neither owns any (a) land or (b) property in the Forest of Dean constituency.

Departmental Relocation

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many staff in his Department have been relocated into London and the South East in each of the last five years for which records are available; [31761]

(2) what plans he has to relocate staff in his Department and related agencies into London and the South East. [31762]

Mrs. McGuire: No staff within the Department for Work and Pensions have been relocated into London and the South East since June 2003. Information is not available on relocations prior to this date.

The Department has no plans to relocate staff into London and the South East.

Departmental Running Costs

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the running costs of his central Department for 2005–06; and if he will make a statement. [44760]

Mrs. McGuire: Information on departmental running costs in resource terms, including a breakdown by client group, is published on an annual basis in the Department's Departmental Report, which can be
 
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found in the Libraries of the House. The 2005 Departmental Report was published in June 2005 (Cm 6539).

Departmental Staff

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department takes to support staff with mental ill-health. [36866]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recognises that mental health conditions are one of the major causes of certified sickness absence among working age people. The Department has a number of policies, procedures and other interventions in place which aim to identify and support our own staff who may be suffering from such conditions.

The Department's Attendance Management policy is designed to help managers deal with all kinds of absences, including those which are due to mental ill health. The policy requires managers to keep in touch with staff while they are absent, and conduct welcome back discussions on their return to work. It also provides guidance to managers on how to spot symptoms of possible mental ill health and how to consider what adjustments might be necessary in order to support the member of staff in doing their job. Adjustments might include changes to the job role or duties, a change of job, additional support or considering part time working or use of the flexible working hours arrangements. The Department's Occupational Health Contractor (Atos Origin) provides advice on reasonable adjustments and the impact the medical condition may have on the member of staff's ability to work effectively.

The Department also has an Employee Assistance service provided by Right Corecare which provides counselling and support to staff on a range of issues including stress (whether at work or at home) and health. Corecare can also advise and support managers who have staff who are experiencing mental ill health. In addition, DWP introduced a Well-being at work policy in September 2004 in order to prevent, identify and address the causes of work-related stress. The policy is based on the HSE Management Standards and aims to assess stress at both an organisational and individual level.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the action he is taking to improve the security of the (a) payroll and (b) other personal data relating to staff of his Department. [38218]

Mrs. McGuire: DWP has robust policies and systems in place that deal with data protection and the security of payroll and other personal data relating to its staff. These are subject to rigorous managerial checks and regular internal and external auditing. In the light of recent events we have reviewed all our processes and security arrangements.

Where recommendations are made for improvements these are taken seriously and acted upon.
 
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Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many civil servants in his Department worked from home for at least one day a week in the last year for which figures are available. [40280]

Mrs. McGuire: There are currently six DWP employees who are contracted as home workers. However, DWP employees may make ad-hoc arrangements to work from home for a variety of reasons, for example, to complete performance appraisal reports; to complete reports of home visits carried out; as reasonable adjustments for disabled employees; to avoid travel disruption during industrial action on public transport.

Managers also have discretion to authorise employees to work from home for domestic reasons that may otherwise have required their absence from duty.

Statistical data have never been collected about ad-hoc home working arrangements, which are treated the same as any other absence from the normal work place on official duties.

Because no official records are kept, and none are required to be kept by individuals, any data that may be gathered could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements are in place to assess the morale of departmental staff. [45190]

Mrs. McGuire: The DWP carries out a departmental staff survey annually, inviting all staff to say how they feel about a comprehensive range of issues affecting their working lives. This includes indicators that allow staff morale to be assessed.

Because morale is a multi-faceted issue, DWP uses its survey to collect data on a range of issues to gain a reliable assessment, rather than rely on a single indicator, such as staff satisfaction. Over time, it has developed a more informed view of what drives staff morale and incorporated these factors into the survey questionnaire. These include areas such as how people feel about their job, the support they get from colleagues and managers, opportunities to develop skills and pursue a career, their confidence in handling challenging aspects of their job, terms and conditions and how they perceive the culture of the organisation.

The DWP has also adopted the Health and Safety Executive's Management Standards model as the basis of its Well-being at Work policy to measure and help manage pressures and demands in the workplace; to minimise the risks of stress; and to continually assess the levels of pressure placed on its people.

The fourth DWP survey was completed in October 2005. In addition to the centralised DWP survey, business areas and teams carry out smaller scale reviews which include consideration of staff attitudes connected to Investors in People, Excellence or performance improvement initiatives locally.


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