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Departments: Contracts

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which functions of his Department have been privatised or outsourced since May 2005. [127447]


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Mrs. McGuire: Since May 2005 the Department has outsourced the following functions:

In addition since 2005 the Department has re-let a number of deals for services that had originally been outsourced before 2005. These were:

None of these outsourced services are delivered outside the United Kingdom.

Departments: PFI

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) for which future projects his Department is considering a private finance initiative deal; what the estimated lifetime value of each potential contract is; and what period each will cover; [125187]

(2) what percentage of his Department’s budget was taken up by private finance initiative commitments in each of the last 10 years for which information is available; and if he will make a statement; [125192]

(3) what percentage of his Department’s budget will be taken up by private finance initiative commitments in each of the next 10 years assuming that the budget grows in line with the Treasury’s estimates for gross domestic product over the period; and if he will make a statement. [125193]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department will consider PFI as an option when assessing the best value for money route to deliver its services. The Department for Work and Pensions uses a PFI route to obtain estates services under the Private Sector Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate (PRIME) contract. PRIME is a 20 year PFI partnership deal, competitively let to Trillium (now Land Securities Trillium) on 1 April 1998. The deal involved the transfer of ownership and management of the majority of the then Department of Social Security premises to the private sector. Following the creation of the Department for Work and Pensions, PRIME was expanded in 2003 to cover ex-Employment Service estate. The Department secured a range of important new value for money mechanisms, bringing the deal in line with new Government guidelines for PFI deals.

The Department currently has no plans to use PFI in new areas, but the option will be considered for future services, except IS/IT which under Government policy are not considered suitable for PFI.

The percentage of the Department’s total budget taken up by PFI commitments in each of the years since the Department was formed in 2001 is shown in the following table.


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Percentage

2000-01

0.30

2001-02

0.29

2002-03

0.29

2003-04

0.37

2004-05

0.53

2005-06

0.54

2006-07

0.50


The forecast percentage of the Department's total budget that will be taken up by PFI commitments in each of the years to the end of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 period is shown in the following table. In line with Treasury guidance it is not considered appropriate to model the Department’s budget beyond 2011 based on the gross domestic product projections.

Percentage

2007-08

0.48

2008-09

0.46

2009-10

0.45

2010-11

0.44


In line with Treasury guidance the total budget figure comprises both the Department’s Delegated Expenditure Limit and Annually Managed Expenditure. However, it should be noted that this Department’s Annually Managed Expenditure largely covers the cost of benefit payments; it is not therefore a potential target for PFI in the way that other departments expenditure might be, for example deals for bridge or school building or maintenance.

Disability Living Allowance

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households are in receipt of each component of disability living allowance for a child, broken down by (a) region, (b) local authority and (c) parliamentary constituency. [129805]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available by household. Information on the number of children receiving disability living allowance in each region, local authority and parliamentary constituency has been placed in the Library.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on the 16 hour rule; and if he will make a statement. [128729]

Mr. Plaskitt: The 16 hour rule, defined in regulations, affects entitlement to housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance (JSA). People may study for up to 16 hours a week and still be entitled to those benefits, but their benefit entitlement ends if they exceed 16 hours. Financial support for full-time students (with some exceptions) is the responsibility of the education and not the benefits system. The 16 hour rule exists to support that principle and, in the case of JSA, to ensure that people concentrate on looking for a job.

Members of the Foyer Federation continue to lobby for changes to the housing benefit rules to allow young
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people at risk of homelessness to receive housing benefit while in full-time study. We accept that some young people in these circumstances may need a second chance at learning and are considering how we might be able to help. We also continue to receive approaches to waive the JSA 16 hour rule in specific circumstances. Our response is to clarify the rule's purpose and effect and that the Employment and Training Act 1973 allows us to target unemployed people who face particular labour market disadvantage, by removing them from JSA and the requirement to actively seek work, instead paying them training allowances to undertake full-time training. We are using these arrangements in the ‘Adult Learning Option’ pilots which are supporting our customers towards achieving a Level 2 qualification. The budget that supports training allowances is finite and this route to full-time learning has to be carefully targeted on those most in need.

Pensions: Armed Forces

Peter Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many women in total have received a pre-1950 widow’s pension arising from their husbands’ service in the armed forces prior to August 1950; how many women are receiving such a pension; what the value is of such a pension; what the cost of such pensions was in the last year for which figures are available; and what the total cost of such pensions has been since their inception. [126555]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 12 March 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

Neither the Department for Work and Pensions nor the Ministry of Defence holds the specific information requested on the number of women who received—or are still receiving—a widow’s pension arising from their husband’s service in the armed forces prior to August 1950.

I can confirm that there are 38,425 War Widows pensions in payment arising from their spouse’s service both before and after August 1950. We cannot ascertain how many of those will be before August 1950 without trawling through the individual records which would require disproportionate administrative effort.

In relation to the question of costs I can confirm that the current average weekly value of a widow’s pension is £100.76 for all war widows irrespective of date. This gives an annual cost for all widows’ pensions of approximately £200 million for the period up to 31 December 2006. The overall average weekly payment to widows or widowers including supplementary allowances is £191.09.

Detailed financial information relating to war pension costs has been issued on a quarterly basis by the Defence Analytical Services Agency since 2001 and the relevant publications are available in the Library of the House.

Social Security Benefits: Disabled

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the number of people who claimed (a) incapacity benefit, (b) severe disablement allowance and (c)
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income support for incapacity who moved from permitted work into employment of 16 hours a week or more in each of the last three years. [127818]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available in the format requested.

Evaluations carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, which consider the stepping stone effect of permitted work, have been published.

Copies of the following reports have been placed in the Library:

Social Security Benefits: Overseas Residence

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many types of benefits are paid to UK citizens who live outside the UK but within the European economic area under European Community Regulation 1408/71. [126428]

Mr. Plaskitt: The following benefits are payable to UK citizens living outside the UK but within the European economic area, subject to the EU social security regulations and the individual benefits' rules.

Social Security Benefits: Telephone Services

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been spent on administering the benefit fraud hotline in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available. [124709]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available broken down by month.


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Northern Ireland

Departments: Paper

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what mechanisms are in place to ensure his Department's economical use of paper. [128004]

Mr. Hain: The NIO's overall policy on the consumption of any resource is to reduce, reuse and recycle. In taking this forward we give advice and guidance to staff on a range of sustainability issues via our intranet and through awareness seminars.

With regard to economical use of paper the policy is to avoid printing or copying documents unnecessarily, and if printing or copying is necessary to use a printer or copier capable of double sided printing. In addition we have greatly reduced the circulation of information on paper in favour of circulation by electronic means.

In order to measure the effectiveness of this policy we have initiated a mechanism whereby we monitor the purchase of A4 paper.

Elections

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many election petitions have been heard in the courts in Northern Ireland since 2000; what the outcome was of each case in which no proceedings are active; which election each concerned; and what the nature was of the petition. [129411]

Mr. Hanson: There has only been one election petition heard in the courts in Northern Ireland since 2000. This was in relation to a polling place at the parliamentary election in 2001 which remained open after the statutory closing time of 10.00 pm. The court determined that the votes polled after 10.00 pm had not affected the result.

Electoral Register

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of individual registration in the recent Northern Ireland elections. [128936]

Mr. Hanson: The Electoral Commission will be commenting on individual registration and other administrative matters to do with the Assembly election in its statutory report to be published in June 2007.

English Language

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Government is taking to provide free English language courses for foreign citizens living in Northern Ireland. [128394]

Maria Eagle: In Northern Ireland the Department for Employment and Learning’s Strategy is to provide English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses as part of its mainstream Further Education provision.


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Provision is accessible through the network of Further Education Colleges located across all areas of NI. Although most colleges offer access to ESOL free of charge (subject to standard residency requirements, applicable across the UK) some colleges exercise their right to charge a small registration fee.

The Department gives the highest weighting within the Further Education Funding Formula to ESOL provision. There is no cap on provision and the funding incentive for colleges has clearly benefited the uptake and delivery of this provision.


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