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21 May 2007 : Column 1168W—continued


Jobcentre Plus: Standards

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of mystery shopper exercises at Jobcentre Plus. [133904]

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 21 May 2007:


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Members: Correspondence

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to reply to the letter of 26 February from the hon. Member for North East Milton Keynes' constituent Mr. R Taylor of Hadley Place, Milton Keynes. [133464]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 23 April 2007]: I replied to the hon. Member's constituent’s letter on 30 April 2007.

National Insurance: Foreigners

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many national insurance numbers were given to non-UK nationals each year since 1992, broken down by nationality. [137519]

Mr. Plaskitt: Information is not available prior to April 2002. The available information broken down by country of origin has been placed in the Library.

Pension Service

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many customer visits were carried out by the Pension Service local teams in each year since 2002. [133905]

James Purnell: No data are available for 2002-03 and 2003-04 years for customer visits carried out by The Pension Service local teams as national figures were not maintained for this period.

Data for 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 are in the following table

Total number of visits Total number of positive outcomes

2004-05

805,390

202,930

2005-06

1,250,420

223,180

2006-07

1,071,480

295,100

Notes: 1. A positive outcome refers to applications for benefit that have resulted in a monetary award of benefit to the customer. 2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Pensions: Compensation

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the cost of providing compensation to members of pension schemes with a solvent employer who have lost pension savings at (a) financial assistance scheme levels and (b) pension protection fund levels in (i) cash terms and (ii) net present value terms. [136024]

James Purnell: The total number of pension schemes with solvent employers which have commenced winding-up is not known, so we are unable to provide any estimates relating to members of such schemes, other than for those we are aware of with compromise agreements.

We estimate that the cost of providing assistance at the levels requested to members of pension schemes which have reached a compromise agreement is as follows:


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Pensions: Females

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures he has put in place to deal with the additional workload in his Department arising from women born in 1947 reaching pension age. [136996]

James Purnell: Our workload volumes forecasts take account of published population projections, provided by the Government Actuary's Department, as well as the impact of current and planned policy initiatives, including state pension deferral and state pension reform. Any female population growth from 1947 will therefore be factored into our state pension and pension credit workload forecasts from 2007.

This information is then used to calculate and plan the resources required to administer forecast workloads. This, and other factors such as planned productivity improvements brought about through our transformation programme, will be factored into long term planning. Decisions about budgets and workforce deployment take into account affordability, value for money and the different priorities of our key customer groups. The process for ensuring sufficient resources are in place to handle any increase in workload is robust and staffing allocations are made to maintain a high standard of customer service.

Pensions: Insolvency

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the number of pension schemes in wind-up with a solvent employer which signed compromise agreements after 2005 which do not qualify for assistance from the Pensions Protection Fund or the financial assistance scheme as proposed to be amended by the Pensions Bill; and what his estimate is of the number of members in these schemes. [136018]

James Purnell: Information on the number of compromise agreements entered into by trustees and employers after 2005 is unavailable. However, since 2005, employers that are considering entering into a compromise agreement with their pension scheme may obtain assurance in the form of a clearance statement from the Pensions Regulator that a contribution notice or financial support direction will not be issued later in respect of that agreement. In general terms the Regulator will not issue clearance statements where compromise agreements render schemes ineligible for the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Public Spaces: Accidents

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many legal actions brought against local and central government authorities as a consequence
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of accidents in (a) publicly administered space and (b) play areas in the last 12 months involved (i) under-18s and (ii) under-16s. [133858]

Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in relation to local and central Government. HSE brought one case against a local authority in 2006-07, as a consequence of accidents to persons under 16. There were no other cases involving under-18s.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many legal actions were brought against local and central Government authorities as a consequence of accidents in play areas in each year since 1997. [133860]

Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in relation to local and central Government. In the 10 years from 1997-2008 to 2006-07, it brought 16 cases against local authorities following accidents to persons under the age of 18 in playgrounds, sports areas, swimming pools, and public parks.

Social Fund Community Care Grant

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average Social Fund Community Care Grant award was in (a) England and (b) each region in 2005-06 and 2006-07. [137535]

Mr. Plaskitt: The available information is in the following tables.

Social fund community care grants
£
Average initial award
2005-06 2006-07

England

407

418



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Social fund community care grants by region
£
Average initial award
Government office region 2005-06 2006-07

East of England

413

445

East Midlands

416

452

London

483

460

North East

349

353

North West

375

402

Scotland

408

449

South East

413

403

South West

371

381

Wales

381

393

West Midlands

397

405

Yorkshire and the Humber

406

425

Note:
Awards made after review are not included.
Source:
DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the real terms reduction in the Social Fund Community Care Grant budget on the resettlement of homeless people. [137536]

Mr. Plaskitt: No such specific assessment has been made or is planned.

The Community Care Grant budget is now 41 per cent. higher in "cash terms" than in 2000-01 and represents an increase of 18 per cent. in real terms. It is available to meet the wide-ranging needs of all vulnerable groups, including the resettlement of homeless people.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on British accession to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. [137786]

Mrs. McGuire: On 30 March I signed this convention on behalf of the United Kingdom at a signature ceremony organised by the United Nations at its New York headquarters. A total of 92 countries, nearly half of all UN member states, have now signed the convention. The objective of the convention is to secure for the estimated 650 million disabled people around the world their human rights on an equal basis with non-disabled people. Our signature of the convention signifies the UK's strong support for human rights at home and abroad and our intention to ratify the convention without undue delay.


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