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26 Apr 2007 : Column 1212Wcontinued
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of the implementation of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 on company benefits available to retired employees; and if he will make a statement. 
James Purnell: The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations implement the age strand of Directive 2000/78 EC establishing a framework for equal treatment in employment and vocational training. This requirement makes it unlawful for pension schemes to discriminate against members or prospective members of a pension scheme and was introduced in December 2006.
In the last few months, companies have been reviewing their occupational pension schemes in compliance with these regulations. The Governments aim has been to ensure that occupational pension provision will not be jeopardised by this legislation, but it is still too early to assess the effect in practice of these regulations.
Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what associated services are offered by (a) Swaffham and (b) Downham Market Jobcentre Plus branches; and what plans have been made for their continued provision if these Jobcentre Plus branches are closed; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the financial savings that would be achieved as a result of the closure of the Swaffham and Downham Market Jobcentre Plus branches; 
(3) what alternatives have been considered to closing Jobcentre Plus branches at Swaffham and Downham Market. 
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 26 April 2007:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions about the closure of Swaffham and Downham Market Jobcentres. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
You are already aware that we are currently consulting on the closure of both these sites, and no decision will be made on the closure of either Swaffham or Downham Market until the consultation is complete.
Both these offices currently deliver the full range of Jobcentre Plus services including Fortnightly Jobsearch Reviews for customers in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance. The only exception to this is when customers require New Jobseeker interviews; these are delivered from Dereham for Swaffham customers, and Kings Lynn for Downham Market customers.
Both Jobcentres also provide Jobsearch facilities through our Job Point technology. Additionally customers can access these services via the internet and our Contact Centre Jobseekers Direct Service.
If closure of these Jobcentres does go ahead, we intend to provide all advisory and Fortnightly Jobsearch Reviews in other locations. For Downham Market customers this would usually be at Kings Lynn, unless transport links make it easier for them to travel elsewhere. The majority of Swaffham customers would use Dereham Jobcentre, again unless transport links make it easier for them to travel to another Jobcentre. However we will also consider the provision of alternative ways for customers to access our services.
As part of the consultation we are already considering how we could provide these alternative services. In Downham Market we have opened discussion with the Local Authority regarding the feasibility of delivering Fortnightly Jobsearch Reviews from existing Local Authority premises. We have not yet been able to identify similar opportunities in Swaffham but are continuing discussions with our partners.
In addition to these specific proposals we will ensure that our Internet access and Contact Centre Jobsearch facilities are marketed to our customers. We are also looking at the feasibility of locating some of our Job Points in partner premises.
The financial savings that could be realised if these sites are closed would depend upon the potential alternative services provided.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many New Deal training providers have had their contracts terminated; and for what reason in each case; 
(2) what action has been taken against providers of ineffective training on the New Deal programmes. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: New contracts for the delivery of New Deal programmes commenced in May 2006 in Scotland, and in July 2006 in England and Wales. None of those contracts has to date been terminated. Information on whether any New Deal training providers had their contracts terminated between January 1998, when New Deal started, and April 2006, could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
One New Deal prime contract in Jobcentre Plus's South Tyne and Wear Valley District will end by mutual agreement in October 2007. This is because Jobcentre Plus has concluded that the arrangements in place do not deliver the outcomes and quality service expected for customers. Alternative arrangements are being established.
Ineffective providers are dealt with through Department for Work and Pensions contract management processes. In the first instance, a performance improvement plan is agreed with the contractor. If performance fails to improve within a reasonable timescale, a formal breach notice is issued to the contractor. If contract delivery continues to fall below the required standard, the contract is terminated.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 15 January 2007, Official Report, column 898W, on mental health, what MINDs conclusions on quality assurance for the Condition or Disability training product were; and if he will make a statement. 
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 26 April 2007:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question pursuant to the answer of 15th January 2007, Official Report, column 898W, on mental health asking what was MINDs conclusions on quality assurance for the Condition or Disability training product. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus works with a range of partners including MIND in the development of training materials to support the implementation of the Jobcentre Plus Incapacity Benefit Adviser role. The Working with Customers with a Health Condition or Disability training product was developed for staff and sent to MIND for their quality assurance prior to release. On this occasion MIND did not provide any comments or suggestions to the development of this product, however Mencap did respond and we took their comments into consideration.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of widowed parent's allowance in each of the last 10 years, in each local authority area. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The available information has been placed in the Library.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the percentage of households of working age adults with no one in work in each year since 1977-78; what projection he has made of that percentage in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Labour Force Survey data used to answer this question are only available from 1992. The latest available data are for 2006. There is no information available on the projected percentage of households of working age adults with no one in work for 2007-08.
The available information is in the following table.
|Percentage of households of working age adults with no one in work in Great Britain from 1992-2006|
|Quarter/As at spring||Percentage|
1. Data for 1992-96 are non re-weighted and should not be used in conjunction with data from spring 1997 onwards.
2. Data have been adjusted for unknown economic activity.
3. Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand.
Labour Force Survey
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on her plans to reform or phase out the housing subsidy system for council housing. 
Yvette Cooper: Housing revenue account (HRA) subsidy is based on a notional measure of authorities income (which is mainly rents) and expenditure. If need to spend is assumed to be greater than assumed income, then the authority is assumed to have a deficit and HRA subsidy is paid to the authority to make up that shortfall. If the assumed income is greater than the assumed need to spend, this negative subsidy is captured, recycled within the HRA subsidy system and used to help pay for the subsidy entitlement of the deficit authorities. Even with this recycling, in the most recent year for which audited data are available (2005-06), the Exchequer still made an annual contribution of over £200 million.
Surpluses (and deficits) are not related to the efficiency of a council in operating its HRA. Surpluses rarely, if ever, occur where the need to spend is greatest; if we were to allow those authorities that make surpluses to retain them this would, within the total funding levels agreed, mean reduced subsidies and therefore higher rents, for all those authorities with a deficit. The alternative would be higher taxes or cuts in services. We also need to recognise that the surpluses that are being generated by some authorities come from housing that has largely been funded by central Government.
The Department is currently working with a group of local authorities to investigate the potential benefits, in terms of asset management, efficiency and better outcomes, of allowing some councils to leave the subsidy system. Self financing would involve a one-off settlement to replace future subsidy or surplus payments. As such, it
would not be a means for surplus authorities simply to retain a larger share of overall housing resources.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Department's total spending and that of its predecessors was on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 1997; and what the cost of each campaign was, broken down by costs relating to (a) television, (b) radio and (c) print media. 
Angela E. Smith: The Department for Communities and Local Government was established on 5 May 2006. The campaigns run since then are as follows:
This was aimed at reducing the number deaths and serious injuries caused by domestic fires. The media spend is as follows:
Home Information Packs campaign.
The aim of the campaign is to inform the industry and those in the market of the introduction of Home Information Packs and to encourage take up. The media spend is as follows:
Aimed at alerting landlords and tenants of their new obligations under the law. The media spend is as follows:
Aimed at small and medium sized business to alert them to their obligations under the new fire order reform regulations. The media spend was as follows:
Connect to your council - Take-Up campaign.
The campaign is aimed at encouraging individuals to use the online services provided by local authorities. The media spend is as follows:
|Phase 1 May 2006 to end June 2006|
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