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15 May 2007 : Column 638W—continued

Environmental Stewardship Scheme

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what account is taken of membership of former agricultural assistance schemes in the criteria for qualification for the environmental (a) entry, (b) organic and (c) higher level stewardship schemes; how many applicants for environmental stewardship were members of former schemes; how much was allocated to (i) environmental stewardship and (ii) former such schemes in 2006-07; how many farmers were members of (1) environmental stewardship and (2) former such schemes in 2006-07; and what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for environmental stewardship to meet demand. [135749]

Barry Gardiner: Since October 2006, Environmental Stewardship is administered by Natural England on behalf of DEFRA. The terms and conditions are set out in the respective handbooks for the schemes. Membership of a former scheme is not part of the qualifying criteria and all applications are considered against the entry requirements.

The Government are, however, anxious to encourage those who have been delivering significant environmental benefits under earlier schemes to continue to do so within the opportunities now available. Members of former schemes may also be more aware of the potential of the current schemes and hence more likely to apply. The applications database does not record information about previous scheme membership.

The Rural Development Programme for the period 2006 to 2013 more than doubles the previous funding available for agri-environment schemes to £2.9 billion, and will allow for substantial additional uptake. During 2006-07 the following expenditure was committed to agri-environment schemes.

Scheme Amount (£ million)

Environmentally Sensitive Areas


Countryside Stewardship


Entry Level


Organic Entry Level


Higher Level


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Work and Pensions

Departments: Sick Leave

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people took sick leave for stress in his Department in the last 12 months; and what percentage of the total staff number this represents. [135461]

Mrs. McGuire: The absence data are taken from the Departments sick absence management report as at 31 March 2007 and cover the period 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007. They include staff whose sickness started prior to this period, and those who were still sick at the end of the period.

Figures for the number of staff in the Department include all staff that have been employed by us during the year 2006-07 including those who have subsequently left us as they all had the potential to contribute to sick absence figures.

The Department uses the International Classification of Diseases version nine, set out by the World Health Organisation to record sick absences. The group for recording stress is 'Depression, Anxiety and Other Mental Health Issues' and does include mental health illnesses other than stress for example: psychoneurosis, schizophrenia, anxiety, nerves, and depression.

The Department has recently moved to a new resource management system. This new system enables us to capture information relating to absences for "stress". The new system was fully operational for all the Department's staff from April 2007. In the future this will enable us to report key information against this absence reason in a more accurate manner.


Number of staff taking sick leave for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues


Number of staff employed in the Department during 2006-07


Percentage of all staff employed in the Department during 2006-07


Financial Assistance Scheme

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether people who have been refused initial payments from the Financial Assistance Scheme on the grounds of the de minimis rule will now have payments made to them retrospectively; and what his latest estimate is of the value of such payments. [135124]

James Purnell: 1,076 people affected by the Financial Assistance Scheme’s de minimis rule will be eligible for increased payments following the proposed new rules on assistance payments. Increases will apply retrospectively and arrears will be paid back to when the member’s entitlement began. The value of such payments is not currently available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the process will be for making payments from the extended Financial Assistance Scheme to those who have lost pension savings; and if he will make a statement. [135131]

James Purnell: As a result of the extension to FAS announced in the 2007 Budget Speech, the FAS Operational Unit will, over the coming months, re-examine all members who have already been assessed to ensure they can be paid as soon as the necessary legislation is in force. Newly eligible members under the FAS extension will also be paid as soon as possible once legislation has come into force.

Incapacity Benefit: Medical Examinations

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of incapacity benefit claimants receive benefit after (a) self assessment, (b) GP referral and (c) independent medical assessment. [131827]

Mrs. McGuire: A person's entitlement to incapacity benefit is informed by the personal capability assessment (PCA). The PCA provides an assessment of the limitations of functional capacity arising from physical and/or mental health conditions.

The PCA is an evidence gathering process, in which evidence is gathered until it is possible to give robust advice that a person satisfies the benefit entitlement threshold.

A person can be accepted as satisfying the threshold, without a medical examination, if they have an exempt condition, indicating a severe degree of disability; or self-report a degree of functional limitation that is consistent and compatible with their condition.

If neither of these applies, the person is called for a face-to-face medical examination. Legislation provides that no person will be disallowed benefits without being offered a medical examination.

For incapacity benefit claims beginning between January and March 2005, of those claimants who completed the PCA process, 24 per cent. were awarded benefit after completing a questionnaire, but without having to attend a medical examination, and 12 per cent. were awarded benefit on GP evidence alone, without being required to fill in a questionnaire or attend a medical examination.

63 per cent of claimants attended a medical examination. However, not all of these were awarded benefit following the medical.

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many recipients of incapacity benefit were subject to a personal capability assessment in 2005-06. [136149]

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

The number of personal capability assessment medical examinations carried out by Atos Origin Medical Services in the calendar year 2005 was 479,474. In 2006 the number was 497,260. It should be noted that people in receipt of incapacity benefit may have undergone more than one medical examination during this period.

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Independent Living Funds

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Cotswold of 27 March 2007, Official Report, column 1496W, on independent living funds, what action was taken as a result of the theft; whether those whose personal data were stolen were informed; how many people's personal data were on the tape; whether those whose personal data were stolen have since been victims of identity fraud; when the theft was discovered and how long after the theft occurred the discovery was made; what type of personal data were stolen; and if he will make a statement. [134150]

Mrs. McGuire: Following the incident last year, the trustees of the ILFs immediately instigated a full end-to-end review of IT security, as a precautionary measure. This review was carried out in consultation with experts in the field of IT and data security.

All those whose personal data were contained on the stolen tape were informed of the incident in writing. The ILFs also set up a telephone help line to help customers who had additional queries.

The stolen tape contained the personal data of approximately 30,000 people, including all current customers of the ILFs, as well as ILF staff and a number of former customers of the funds, whose details are retained in line with strict data retention policies.

To date, there has been no evidence to suggest that anyone has been the victim of identity fraud as a consequence of this incident.

The theft, which involved a forced entry to a data transport and storage contractor's van, while the tape was in transit to the ILFs' office, occurred on 21 September 2006 and was discovered, reported to the police and notified to the ILFs' management in less than two hours.

The exact amount of personal data stolen varied from person to person but the range of data included names, addresses, dates of birth, national insurance numbers and bank account details.

After receiving advice from a range of security professionals, the date of this incident was not made public. There was no information in the public domain to link the incident to the ILFs and to release the date of the incident then could have increased the risk of an attempt to access the data on the stolen tape.

We consider that due to the length of time since the incident, the risk now of the data being compromised is low. Accordingly, the date of the incident has now been made public.

Industrial Health and Safety: Construction

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department takes to ensure that all employees working on building sites have a proper understanding of the risks and dangers involved and the steps that can be taken to prevent injury. [135555]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 3 May 2007]: It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that any of their employees who work on construction sites have
15 May 2007 : Column 642W
been provided with comprehensible and relevant information about the risks involved and the preventative and protective measures needed to prevent injury or ill health.

There are also legal duties under the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 on those in control of construction work to ensure that any worker carrying out construction work is competent or under the supervision of a competent person.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publishes comprehensive guidance and information to help employers discharge their duties.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were (a) killed and (b) injured on building sites in each of the last 10 years. [135556]

Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 3 May 2007]: The latest available figures cover the period 1996-97 to 2005-06 and are set out in the following tables(1):

Number of fatal injuries to workers and members of the public 1996-97 to 2005-06( 1,2)
1996-97 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01













Total fatal injuries to workers






Members of the public






Total fatal injuries






2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06( 1)













Total fatal injuries to workers






Members of the public






Total fatal injuries






(1) Provisional.
(2) Reported to all enforcing authorities.

Number of major injuries to workers and non-fatal injuries to members of the public 1996-97 to 2005-06( 1,2,3)
1996-97 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01













Total major injuries to workers






Members of the public






Total major injuries






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