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28 Jun 2006 : Column 425W—continued

Departmental Hospitality

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will keep a separate record of the amount spent annually by his Department on alcohol for hospitality purposes. [77191]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions does not currently keep a separate record of expenditure on alcohol for hospitality purposes. Such expenditure is included within the hospitality account. The Department’s current intention is not to subdivide further this analysis of expenditure as it is likely to require significant additional administration and be unlikely to be accurate.

All expenditure on hospitality is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting. Accordingly, alcohol is provided only as an exception and only with the specific written authority of a small number of designated senior civil servants.

Departmental Staff

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the (a) operation and (b) staffing of the Appeals Service from March 2007. [78489]

Vera Baird: My hon. Friend’s question to ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the (a) operation and (b) staffing of the Appeals Service from March 2007 onwards has been referred to the Department for Constitutional Affairs for reply. With effect from 3 April 2006, the Appeals Service, now known as Social Security and Child Support Appeal Tribunal (SSCSA), transferred
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from the Department for Work and Pensions and became part of the Tribunals Service, an Agency of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

The SSCSA continues to meet all of its targets and delivers an efficient service in line with the Tribunals Service 2005-06 Business Plan.

Resource for the SSCSA transferred from DWP to DCA. The staffing of SSCSA will be maintained in line with its workload and the resources available to the Department overall.

Disabled Staff

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disabled staff his Department has employed in each year since 2000. [79934]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is contained in the table.

The information is representative of the disabled status as voluntarily declared by individual members of staff. Not all staff who are registered disabled declare themselves as such for departmental records, and the true figure may be higher than the figures shown.

These figures represent a snapshot of the Staff in Post on 1 April for each year shown and the proportion of disabled staff. The Department for Work and Pensions was created in July 2001, and figures prior to 2002 were unobtainable.

Table 1: Number and proportion of disabled staff in DWP
Staff in post Staff in post with a declared disability Percentage of staff in post with a declared disability

2006

127,795

6,429

5.25

2005

134,494

6,896

5.13

2004

142,675

7,094

5.38

2003

139,906

7,485

5.76

2002

138,578

7,941

5.99


Industrial Action (Newcastle)

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the industrial action on the Newcastle Civil Service Estate between the Public and Commercial Services Union and MacLellan. [80555]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions does not have a policy on the industrial action on the Newcastle Civil Service Estate. The dispute is between the Public and Commercial Services Union and MacLellan. The staff involved were formerly part of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the industrial action between Public and Commercial Services Union and MacLellan on the work of his Department carried out on the Newcastle Civil Service Estate. [80557]


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Mrs. McGuire: The industrial action between Public and Commercial Services Union and MacLellan has had minimal impact on the Department for Work and Pensions business in Newcastle. Core business has not been affected and security has not been compromised.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the implementation of the Working Together programme in Jobcentre Plus. [76520]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 28 June 2006:

Jobseeker Assistance

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements are made by his Department (a) to assess and (b) to report the incidence of learning disabilities among jobseekers. [76318]

Mrs. McGuire: The Labour Market System (LMS) is the computer system used in Jobcentre Plus, part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), that holds details of customer personal information, employer vacancies and opportunities provided by suppliers of training and work-based learning activities.

There is a marker on LMS for ‘people with a disability’. However that is only used when the customer themselves identify that they have a disability which would be a barrier to work. Not everyone with a disability will identify themselves in this way so any data will only include a proportion of those who have a disability. The marker covers all disabilities but it does not break the figure down by type.


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No other specific arrangements have been made to assess or report the incidence of learning disabilities among jobseekers.

Medical Assessments

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average cost is per appeal against a medical assessment decision for benefit entitlement. [76885]

Vera Baird: The hon. Gentleman’s question to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding what the average cost is per appeal against a medical assessment decision for benefit entitlement has been referred to the Department for Constitutional Affairs for reply. With effect of 3 April 2006, appeals against social security benefit decisions are now the responsibility of the Tribunals Service, which is an Agency of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

The information the hon. Gentleman has asked for is not available in the format requested as unit costs are measured over the entire appeal caseload and not broken down specifically by benefit type.

The average unit cost for processing an appeal is £253 and takes into account all Agency costs including overheads.

Pathways to Work

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) when he expects to let contracts with private and voluntary sector providers to manage Pathways to Work in new areas; [77935]

(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that the Pathways to Work procurement process complies with the duties and other provisions established under the Equalities Act 2006. [77936]

Mr. Jim Murphy: We are still finalising our plans for a national roll-out of Pathways to Work. In our Green Paper we said the next phase of the roll-out will be delivered primarily through voluntary and private sector providers contracted locally. The private and voluntary sectors have already demonstrated the value of their specialist knowledge and expertise in existing DWP programmes and will continue to provide major benefits. We hope to make an announcement shortly, which will lead to the start of the procurement exercise.

We will ensure that providers comply with the Equalities Act 2006. The accreditation process prior to the award of a contract confirms that providers have robust equality and diversity policies, and the Jobcentre Plus terms and conditions place contractual obligations on providers in respect of the Equalities Act 2006.

Pensioner Benefits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the (a) number and (b) proportion of pensioners entitled to (i) means tested benefits and (ii) pension credit in
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(A) 2010, (B) 2020, (C) 2030, (D) 2040 and (E) 2050 based on the proposals set out in the Pension White Paper Cm 6841; and if he will make a statement. [75512]

James Purnell [holding answer 8 June 2006]: The information is not available in the format requested. The information available is shown in the following table.

The numbers eligible for pension credit in the future are subject to a range of uncertainties and a number of factors including policies on uprating different benefits. Table 1 shows the projected number and proportion of pensioner households eligible for pension credit under the proposals contained in the White Paper “Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system.”

Table 1: Projected number and proportion of pensioner households eligible to pension credit for selected years under the White Paper proposals
Number of pensioner households eligible (£ million) Proportion of pensioner households eligible (percentage)

2010

4.15

44

2020

3.45

41

2030

2.95

31

2040

2.80

27

2050

2.95

29

Notes:
1. Long-run projections of the number and proportion of pensioners eligible for means tested benefits under the White Paper proposals are not available. 2. Projections of the number and proportion of pensioners eligible for pension credit are sensitive to modelling assumptions and to projected changes in the distribution of pensioner incomes.
3. The estimates of proportions shown here are the mid-points of projections taken from two separate micro-simulation models. Modelling of the reform proposals does not include any increase in private saving from the introduction of personal accounts, which would further reduce the numbers eligible for pension credit.
4. Projections of the number of pensioners eligible for pension credit are derived from the projected proportions eligible and projections of the number of pensioner households in Great Britain.
5. These projections assume: continued earnings uprating of the standard guarantee credit; earnings uprating of the savings credit threshold from 2008 to 2014; earnings uprating of the basic state pension from 2012; price uprating of the maximum savings credit from 2015; measures to improve coverage of the basic state pension described in the White Paper.
6. Estimates cover all those aged above women's state pension age in the private household population of Great Britain.
7. Estimates account for equalisation of state pension age between 2010 and 2020. They also account for the proposed further increases in state pension age described in the White Paper. The estimates assume that the minimum age at which people can claim pension credit rises in line with women's state pension age.
8. Estimates are calibrated to the mid-points of the 2004-05 National Statistics range estimates of non-eligibility to pension credit, which adjust 2004-05 family resources survey data to take account of possible biases in reporting. Although the estimates here are not presented as ranges, they are subject to a margin of uncertainty.
9. Estimates of the number of pensioner households eligible are rounded to the nearest 50,000.

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