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5 Dec 2006 : Column 324W—continued

Public Appointments

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which public appointments have been made by his Department to former Ministers who have served in the Government since May 1997. [105765]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) has made no public appointments to former Ministers who have served in the Government since May 1997.

Renewable Energy

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much energy consumed by his Department is acquired from renewable sources. [106145]

Mr. Thomas: The proportion of electricity consumed by DFID in the UK from renewable sources is currently 95 per cent.. This will rise to 100 per cent. from 25 December 2006, when we close the only one of our buildings which is not so supplied.

Uganda

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support the UK is providing to people in Uganda affected by the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army. [106945]


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Hilary Benn: The UK is one of the largest providers of humanitarian aid to people in the areas of Uganda affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. In 2005-06 we provided £20 million for humanitarian assistance. In 2006-07 we have already spent just over £9 million on humanitarian assistance and plan to disburse at least a further £9 million before the end of March. Funding has been channelled through the UN agencies, the Red Cross and Save the Children and has been used to provide emergency food aid, health care, water and sanitation, education and programmes to protect vulnerable children.

In addition to our humanitarian aid we have also supported efforts to bring the conflict to an end through the funding of activities to promote peace and reconciliation. In 2005-06 we provided just under £1 million of conflict prevention funding and this financial year we plan to spend approximately £1.3 million, including support we are providing to the current peace talks in Juba.

Work and Pensions

Access to Work

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the impact of withdrawing entitlement to Access to Work funding for (a) his Department’s employees on the numbers of disabled staff working in his Department and (b) other central Government Department employees on the number of disabled staff within these departments. [103170]

Mrs. McGuire: My officials will monitor the impact of the removal of Access to Work funding from employees working in central Government Departments. They will do this through a combination of analysis of administrative data from a range of sources, including DWP Access to Work Business Centres; Cabinet Office (data on employment and recruitment of disabled people across departments); and central Government Departments themselves, and qualitative research with disabled employees and other stakeholders, about their experiences.

The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) assesses the effectiveness of current policies and services for disabled people and reports annually on progress in delivering the Government's strategy to achieve equality for disabled people by 2025. As part of this, the ODI will work with the Department for Work and Pensions to consider the impact of the Access to Work changes.

Benefit Payments

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what options for payment of benefit are offered to new claimants of (a) state pension, (b) pension credit, (c) disability living allowance, (d) attendance allowance and (e) carer’s allowance; and if he will place in the Library copies of the relevant standard letters and supporting leaflets. [102403]


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Mr. Plaskitt: As part of the commitment to modernise welfare delivery and increase financial inclusion, direct payment into an account became the normal method of payment for benefits and pensions from April 2003.

Factual information on claimants account options are contained in claim packs. It is for claimants themselves to decide which type of account best suits their needs and circumstances. Payment by cheque is used for those claimants who we are unable to pay by direct payment.

A copy of each of the main claim forms and any supporting leaflets will be placed in the Library shortly.

Benefit: Earnings Ratio

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the ratio of incapacity benefit to median earnings in the UK was in each year from 1975-76 to 2005-06; and if he will make a statement. [102209]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available.

Call Centres: Work-related Injuries

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of (a) hearing-related sickness and injury and (b) acoustic shock amongst employees in UK call centres have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations since January 1999; and if he will make a statement. [102610]

Mrs. McGuire: The information requested cannot be reliably identified from routine RIDDOR classifications, and the Standard Industrial Classification for call centres was only introduced in 2001. However, a text search of RIDDOR reports for all businesses for the years 2001-02 to 2005-06 (provisional) finds a total of 11 injuries where the term “acoustic shock” is mentioned in the report and a further 22 reports involving noise associated with a telephone. All these injuries resulted in the affected person being off work for four or more consecutive days.

Reported incidents involving noise associated with telephones in all businesses
1 April to 31 March Incidents using text searches excluding ‘acoustic shock’ Text searches where ‘acoustic shock’ is mentioned

2001-02

8

1

2002-03

(1)5

(1)4

2003-04

7

1

2004-05

2

3

2005-06 (provisional)

2

(1) One incident was identified where the occupation of the affected person was ‘call centre agent/operator’.
Notes:
1. Text searches used variations of ‘phone’, ‘noise’, ‘call centre’ and ‘acoustic shock’ in the free-text accident description field. Data before April 2001 are not available in sufficient detail to identify relevant incidents.
2. RIDDOR 1995 applies to Great Britain only; separate reporting arrangements exist for Northern Ireland.

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Under RIDDOR employers should report fatalities, certain types of major injuries, dangerous occurrences and work-related injuries, which result in admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours or the affected person being unable to carry out their normal work for more than three consecutive days. The list of RIDDOR prescribed diseases does not cover hearing loss due to noise exposure or acoustic shock. RIDDOR data would only cover such conditions if they resulted in admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours or the affected person being unable to carry out their normal work for more than three consecutive days.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to encourage people to fit carbon monoxide detectors in their homes; and if he will make a statement. [104287]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer on 27 November 2006]: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly recommends the use of approved, audible carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all homes that use gas appliances. Such detectors should not be regarded as a substitute for competent maintenance and annual safety checks of gas equipment by a CORGI-registered installer.

This recommendation was most recently publicised by the Chief Executive of HSE on 24 October 2006.

Children in Poverty

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children in Tamworth constituency were living in relative low income households in (a) the first half of 2006-07 and (b) 1997. [106894]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The information is not available below the level of Government office region.

Disabled People: Access to Work

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the access to work scheme in increasing the numbers of disabled people in employment. [102133]

Mrs. McGuire: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) on 8 November 2006, Official Report, column 1612W.

Health and Safety

Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many prosecutions for breach of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations the Health and Safety Executive successfully undertook in each of the last five years; [100804]

(2) what plans the Health and Safety Executive has to tackle non-compliance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations. [100835]


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Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has successfully undertaken the following number of prosecutions for breach of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 in each of the last five years:

Number

2001-02

34

2002-03

10

2003-04

20

2004-05

7

2005-06 (provisional)

9

Total

80


The Health and Safety Commission considered the outcome of the fundamental review of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 in July 2006 and directed HSE to make improvements to streamline and simplify the reporting process and its communication, particularly from the point of view of small and medium sized businesses. This should encourage compliance.

The HSE is now implementing arrangements to make clear to business that reporting can be simple, drawing attention to the user-friendly telephone reporting facility. New website and other publicity material will be available early next year.

Housing

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information about local reference rents has been made available by The Rent Service since November 2003. [102055]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Valuation Report published by The Rent Service in 2005 provides information on local reference rents, by area, for the years 2001 to 2005. The 2005-06 data are due to be published later this year. A copy of the 2005 Report is in the Library.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many localities were used by TRS to determine local reference rents in each month since 1999. [102056]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what housing benefit expenditure was on (a) tenants in social housing, (b) tenants in private rented accommodation and (c) households in temporary accommodation in (i) England and (ii) each London local authority in each of the last five years. [102123]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information has been placed in the Library.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of incapacity
5 Dec 2006 : Column 329W
benefit have undertaken permitted work in each of the last five years. [101795]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is in the table.

Number of IB/SDA claimants who have undertaken permitted work
Quarter ending Number

November 2002

9,700

May 2003

28,600

May 2004

35,500

May 2005

40,700

May 2006

45,500

Notes:
1. Figures have been produced using the 5 per cent. data and have been rated up proportionally using the Great Britain WPLS 100 per cent. IB/SDA totals.
2. Information on permitted work has only been available since the November 2002 quarter.
Source:
DWP Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people aged 25 years or under claimed incapacity benefit in each year for which figures are available since 2000. [101796]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is in the table.

Number of people aged 25 years or under who have claimed incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance
Year to end of May Number of claimants aged under 25 years (thousand)

2000

164.50

2001

169.25

2002

169.86

2003

173.84

2004

175.77

2005

173.18

2006

166.74

Source:
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effects on the number of people receiving incapacity-related benefits of the ageing of the UK population; and if he will make a statement. [102236]

Mrs. McGuire: No such assessment has been made.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average duration of an incapacity benefit claim was in each month since January 2005; [102149]

(2) what the average duration is of receipt of incapacity benefit; and what this figure was in each year since 1980-81. [102238]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available.


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