Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 24 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1840-41W, to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, on the Ministerial Anniversary, what public funding has been allocated to events commemorating his 10 year anniversary as Deputy Prime Minister; when the nature of these events will be announced; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will direct the Territorial Army to provide the information requested by the Child Support Agency relating to (a) earnings from regular army duties and (b) reimbursements from Territorial Army activity for Sergeant Gould, currently stationed in the Gulf; and what the reasons have been for the time taken in dealing with this matter by the Territorial Army. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 10 July 2006]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to the right hon. Member with the information requested.
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will direct the Territorial Army to provide the information requested by the Child Support Agency relating to (a) earnings from regular army duties and (b) reimbursements from Territorial Army activity for Sergeant Gould currently stationed in the Gulf; and what the reasons have been for the time taken in dealing with this matter by the Territorial Army.
As details about individual cases are confidential I have written to you separately about this case.
Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what charge Liberata levies for the making of an emergency payment to a parent with care at the request of the Child Support Agency. 
In reply to your recent Parliamentary question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what charge Liberata levies for the making of an emergency payment to a parent with care at the request of the Child Support Agency.
The contract with Liberata is part of a wider DWP contract. The charge for making an emergency payment is commercially sensitive and cannot be divulged.
I am sorry I am unable to be more helpful.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has any plans to extend (a) industrial injuries disablement benefit and (b) other relevant benefits to those who suffer from mesothelioma due to exposure to fibres brought home on the clothes of spouses, or other family members, exposed to asbestos at their workplace. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 10 July 2006]: The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit Scheme makes payments to people who have become disabled as a result of an accident at work or as a result of contracting an industrial disease in the workplace.
Spouses or other family members with mesothelioma can claim other state benefits such as incapacity benefit and disability living allowance or attendance allowance and can also seek redress through civil action in the courts.
Mr. Jim Murphy: The criteria for the award of New Deal contracts in 2006 included performance, delivery, organisation, capacity, and quality of management, staff, services, premises and facilities. These criteria were published as part of the Jobcentre Plus advice to potential contractors. Contracts were let through a fair and open competitive tendering process and were awarded to those organisations whose bids were judged best able to satisfy those criteria.
Information on the value of New Deal services contracts let in Gwent is not available. The available information is that in 2005 a total of £4,442,143 was paid to providers of New Deal services in the Eastern area of Jobcentre Plus South Wales Valleys District. Information for earlier years is not available.
The total value of contracts in Wales for the New Deals, Programme Centres, and Basic Skills assessments for the financial year 2005-06 is £12,382,703, of this £4,152,480 is in the charitable sector, £5,171,324 in the public sector, and £3,058,899 in the private sector.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what (a) grants and (b) training schemes are available through his Department (i) for people over 55 years and (ii) for people in retirement to learn new job skills; 
(3) what assistance is available through his Department to people over 55 years who have (a) been made redundant and (b) been redundant for more than one year to assist them to find alternative employment; 
Mr. Jim Murphy:
There are now more people in work in the United Kingdom (UK) than ever before, up 130,000 in the last quarter and by 272,000 in the year to June 2006. At 28.94 million this is just over 2.5 million higher than 1997. There are fewer people out of work than in the last quarter and economic inactivity has fallen sharply, down by 121,000. There are currently 2,477,000 people between 50 and state retirement age
who are recorded as economically inactive in the UK. When people over state pension age are included, this figure rises to 12,176,000.
Between 1979 and the mid 1990s, the number of people on incapacity benefits in Great Britain (GB) trebled. Growth in the caseload has since slowed significantly, and in November 2005, there were 2.71 million people claiming incapacity benefits, a fall of 61,000 over the year. Although 46 per cent. of those claiming incapacity benefits are aged between 50 and state pension age, between 2000 and 2005 the number of people in this age group fell by 52,000. This has contributed to the overall reduction in the incapacity benefits caseload.
Like other age groups, people aged 50 and over will be able to benefit from the rollout of the successful Pathways to Work service across Great Britain which will be completed by 2008. Pathways offers new incapacity benefits customers early support from skilled personal advisers and direct access to a Choices Package of employment programmes and clear financial incentives to make work pay. Any incapacity benefits customer will be able to access the support and help available on a voluntary basis.
Also like all other customers, eligible people aged 50 and over, including those above state pension age, can benefit from the range of services provided by Jobcentre Plus, including access to jobs and help and support to find work. This can include programmes such as new deal 25 plus (ND25 plus) which is mandatory for younger participants but can be accessed on a voluntary basis by people above state pension age who are in receipt of pension credit.
Additional help is provided to older people who do not find work quickly. new deal 50 plus is a voluntary programme for people who have been in receipt of benefits, including pension credit, for at least six months. It provides people in GB with advice and guidance from personal advisers, and access to in-work financial help through the 50 plus element of the working tax credit. Since April 2000, the programme has been successful in helping more than 150,000 older workers into employment. Once in work, new deal 50 plus customers can claim a training grant of up to £1,500 for training of which up to £300 can be used for life-long learning.
People aged 50 and over can also be eligible for help from ND 25 plus. People who have been claiming jobseekers allowance (JSA) for 18 months, who have not previously participated on ND 25 plus, are required to attend the gateway stage of the ND 25 plus programme. This is a period of up to four months of intensive job search and specialist help and support to improve job prospects. This is followed by the intensive activity period (IAP) which is currently voluntary for people aged 50 and over. The IAP provides further support and pre-work training to help people return to work.
Since April 2004, we have been piloting mandatory participation in the ND 25 plus IAP for people aged 50-59 who have been claiming JSA for 18 months. The pilot has offered people in this age group more extensive help back to work. Interim results are positive and, as announced in our Welfare Reform Green Paper, we intend to commence a phased national rollout.
In terms of people facing redundancy, we work with employer and partner organisations, to provide access to a range of services aimed at helping people find alternative employment. The help provided will vary depending upon particular needs, not the age group of individuals, or the period of unemployment following redundancy. Typically, this involves the provision of information, advice and guidance about jobs and how best to secure alternative employment. In the case of large-scale redundancies that have a significant impact on the labour market, additional help, for example skills training analysis and job focused training can be provided through the rapid response service. This help is not age related but it is time bound to 12 weeks before and 12 weeks following someone being made redundant. In the event that these redundant workers have not found alternative work within this period they then access all the other Jobcentre Plus services stated. The rapid response service is available in England, Scotland and Wales although different processes apply within each country.
Through our Age Positive Campaign, we are working with employers and others to promote the business benefits of an age diverse workforce and best practice on age in recruitment, training and promotion. In May 2005 we launched the Be Ready national information campaign to raise employer awareness of, and ability to adopt, flexible employment and retirement opportunities to support the recruitment and retention of older workers in advance of age legislation due in October 2006.
The Department for Education and Skills has responsibility for apprenticeships and training grants. The development and delivery of programmes to help unemployed people in Northern Ireland into work is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Office.
Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he is taking to respond to the findings of his Department's research into the Pathways to Work pilots relating to the impact of the policy on those who report having one health problem of mental illness. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 12 July 2006]: The Department is committed to providing appropriate support for people with mental health conditions, which is why the Condition Management programme within Pathways has been developed. It is clear that Pathways is helping large numbers of people with a mental health condition to move from Welfare to Work. In our qualitative research both personal advisers and Condition Management practitioners have provided individual examples of progression for people with mental health conditions.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the likely impact on pensioners of the discontinuation of the Post Office card account. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Post Office card account has allowed some customers, including pensioners, to get used to the basics of banking. In practice, there is no real difference in accessing money at the post office via a bank account compared to a Post Office card account. Customers can collect the same money, on the same day as they do now at the post office, by using a plastic card and a personal identification number.
Around 90 per cent. of pensioners already have access to a bank account suitable for direct payment. In making use of existing bank accounts, or opening new ones, pensioners will have a wider choice about where and when they collect their money. They will have the opportunity to make savings on their fuel bills by paying them through direct debit, the option to pay in cash as well as cheques, and to receive interest on balances.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many directorships in respect of external organisations the chief operating officer of Remploy has sought leave (a) to retain and (b) to take up. 
Mrs. McGuire: The chief operating officer of Remploy has sought leave from the Remploy Board to retain two existing directorships in respect of external organisations but has not sought leave to take up any further directorships.
Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average cost was to his Department of employing an employee in (a) Remploy and (b) Interwork in 2005-06; and if he will make a statement. 
|Average cost (£)