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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1675W—continued

Disability Rights Commission

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total budget was of the Disability Rights Commission in (a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06;
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how much funding the Commission received to support its work with public bodies to promote equality for disabled people in each year; and how much it will receive in 2006–07 for that work. [44874]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 25 January 2006]: Grant-in-aid paid to the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) in 2004–05 was £16.597 million and its grant in aid allocation for 2005–06 is £21.641 million. These figures reflect the expansion of the DRC's remit as a result of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 2005 which includes the Disability Equality Duty. The figures include some £0.9 million in 2004–05 and some £4.7 million in 2005–06 for work deriving from the DDA 2005. My Department's planning assumption is that the Commission's grant-in-aid for 2006–07 will be £20.902 million to cover all its work including that in respect of the DDA 2005.

The actual amount of resource which the Commission allocates to its work with public bodies in relation to the duty to promote equality for disabled people is an operational matter for decision by the DRC in the light of its statutory duties.

Disabled People (Life Chances)

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to publish the next annual progress report on the objectives set out in Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People. [49789]

Mrs. McGuire: The Office for Disability Issues will report annually to the Prime Minister on cross-government progress in implementing the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report, Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People. The first report is due to be published in summer 2006.

Energy Review

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the source was of the funds earmarked by the Health and Safety Executive to pay for the comparative risk review of energy sources commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry in January as part of the Energy Review; and whether he expects the Health and Safety Executive to apply cost recovery in respect of the Nuclear Reactor Safety Review to be conducted as part of the review. [46568]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department of Trade and Industry has asked the Health and Safety Executive for an expert report on health and safety risks arising from recent and potential energy developments and HSE's approach to ensuring that these risks are sensibly managed by industry. The report will not seek to compare the risks of different energy sources. The cost of producing the report is expected to be small and will be met from existing resources by reprioritising other work. HSE does not intend to recover any of this cost from nuclear site licensees.

Health and Safety

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he has taken in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive to respond to the four high level themes identified in the Government's strategy for workplace health and safety. [45240]

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Mrs. McGuire: As the sponsoring Department for the HSC/E, DWP Ministers are very supportive of the workplace strategy and its themes, and committed to working with the Commission and Executive to facilitate delivery of our targets for health and safety improvement. The strategy has four themes designed to encourage good practice and increase understanding of health and safety requirements: partnership working; effective health and safety management; focusing on our core business and the right interventions; and communicating effectively. A report on the first year of the strategy was published in March 2005 and a report of the second year is due towards the end of March.

There are several examples of partnership working being successfully employed. The Health, Work and Well Being strategy, HSE's Stress Management standards and the soon to be launched Workplace Health Connect have all benefited from partnership working across a wide range of stakeholders. These initiatives will help to deliver HSE's occupational health targets and will also contribute to the Government's wider health agenda.

HSE has developed two specific programmes of work to help others benefit from effective health and safety management. The Business Involvement Strategic Enabling Programme promotes effective health and safety management as an integral part of effective business management. HSE has published relevant case studies to help demonstrate this. The Worker Involvement Strategic Enabling Programme encourages more and better worker involvement in sensible health and safety risk management. The Worker Safety Adviser Challenge fund targeting those workers—particularly in small organisations—that do not have access to trade union safety representatives, made £3 million available to partnerships who could demonstrate innovative ways for getting workers and managers to solve health and safety issues together.

HSE has also been concentrating on their core work and being clear about their priorities—risk and poor performers. They have consulted publicly on the role they should play in protecting the public, rather than just workers, from work-related risks. The consultation was designed to promote and ensure a coherent overall approach to public safety, with greater clarity of responsibilities for the many agencies involved in protecting the public. The consultation has now closed and HSE will be publishing their findings shortly. HSE have also consulted on how they and local authorities can make best use of their resources to deliver health and safety improvements. This culminated in an account of the regulatory methods they employ, why they intervene and what they aim to achieve with each intervention.

Over the last two years, all of this good work has been underpinned by strong HSE communications. This has been evident in their Backs 2005 campaign where they have successfully raised the profile of back pain as a major contributor to work-related ill health and the sensible risk debate they have been running since last summer where they have emphasised the key message of managing risks sensibly, not completely eliminating them. HSE continues to provide authoritative health and safety information using its website as the main point of contact. Since 2002 they have seen a three-fold increase in traffic on their website.
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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action his Department is taking in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive (a) to improve liaison on and (b) to foster sharing of good practice in health and safety regulation with local authorities. [45241]

Mrs. McGuire: Local authorities (LAs) have responsibility for health and safety both as employers (dutyholders) and also as enforcing authorities, in the latter case mainly for health and safety regulation of the service industries.

As employers:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has established a Local Authority Forum, which has representatives from the Local Government Associations (LGAs) in England, Scotland and Wales and from trade unions, where debate and discussion takes place about health and safety issues in LAs, including examples of good practice.

At a regional level regular contact is made with LA Chief Executives, either directly or through the Chief Executive local liaison groups, to discuss issues around the Health and Safety Commission's priorities and to share good practice.

As enforcing authorities:

HSE has been developing partnership arrangements with LAs through work on the 'LAs and HSE Working Together strategic programme'. A Statement of Intent, agreed by HSC/HSE and each of the LGAs in England, Scotland and Wales has set out the principles of such partnership working.

LGA representatives at both officer and elected member level form part of the governance of the partnership arrangements and are involved at the earliest stages in developing policy and delivery around the HSC health and safety priorities. LGA representatives are also involved in the governance of all the HSE strategic programmes.

Regional partnership structures are in place, which allow for joint planning and delivery by both HSE field staff and LA enforcement officers—there are many examples of such joint working around the country.

In May 2005 a 'Good Practice Guide' was launched to share examples of good practice between LAs and between HSE and LAs. This has been supplemented by the creation of a web base 'Extranet' that all LAs can access for information held by HSE on its intranet but also as a means of logging and sharing good practice.

Lord Hunt met with CEO of the LGA in October last year and subsequently met with the chair of the LGA and other key members, on 16 January. Further liaison meetings are planned.

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