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Pensions: Financial Assistance Scheme

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average proportion of (a) expected and (b) core pension being received is for people who have begun to receive their full-entitled payments under the Financial Assistance Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [148601]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: As at 6 July 2007, 247 people are receiving annual payments which top up the actual pension paid through an annuity from their pension scheme to at least 80 per cent. of their expected core pension subject to a cap of £12,000 per annum. A further 1,079 people are receiving initial payments at 60 per cent. of their expected core pension, which subject to Royal Assent of the current Pensions Bill will be increased to 80 per cent.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of people eligible for initial payments, and whose pension scheme trustees have applied for initial payments, received such payments in each month since the scheme began operating; and if he will make a statement. [148248]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: As at 29 June 2007, the Financial Assistance Scheme Operational Unit (FASOU) has assessed all eligible members for whom the scheme trustees have provided acceptable data and has paid all members who have confirmed their personal details.

The following table reflects the cumulative number of members in receipt of Initial and Annual Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) payments from December 2005 until June 2007. The FASOU does not hold the requested information regarding the number of members in receipt of an initial payment as a proportion of those eligible for initial payments.

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Initial payments Annual payments Total payments
















































































Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people over the age of 65 years have died while their pension scheme has been going through (a) the qualification process for the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) and (b) the qualification process to receive initial payments under the FAS; and if he will make a statement. [148249]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Financial Assistance Scheme Operational Unit (FASOU) does not hold this information.

Personal Accounts

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what analysis has been undertaken of the impact on future means-tested benefit entitlement for people on low incomes who save through his Department’s personal account pension initiative. [146551]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department for Work and Pensions has undertaken extensive analysis on the impact of the proposed pension reforms on future entitlement to means-tested benefits and the interaction of these benefits with personal accounts. Such analysis has been presented in Projections of Pension Credit Entitlement, Financial Incentives to Save and the Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Pensions Bill.

Children, Schools and Families

Children: Day Care

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his most recent estimate is of the number of children in lower-income working families using formal childcare. [149234]

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Beverley Hughes: The 2004-05 Childcare Survey showed that there were 614,000 children in lower income working families using formal childcare(1).

By 2008, the Department aims to increase the number of children in lower-income working families using formal childcare by 120,000 children from the 2004-05 baseline. This forms part of the PSA target to

and will contribute to achieving this target by helping to reduce the proportion of children living in households where no one is working.

The figures showing progress towards this target will be available in September 2007 when the results of the 2007 Childcare Survey will be published.

Children: Unemployed

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of young children (a) in each Sure Start Local Programme area and (b) in England lived in households in which no-one was working in the latest period for which figures are available. [149236]

Beverley Hughes: Research published in June 2007 ‘Changes in the Characteristics of Sure Start Local Programme Areas between 2000-01 and 2004-05’(1) showed that, over the study period, there was a greater reduction in the SSLP areas compared to England in: (i) the percentage of children under four years living in workless households; (ii) the percentage in households in receipt of Job Seeker's Allowance; (iii) the percentage in households in receipt of income support; and (iv) the overall percentage of working age adults receiving income support.

The average proportion of children under four living in workless households in SSLP areas dipped just below 40 per cent. in 2004-05, having started out at 45 per cent. in 2000-01. One third were living in a household in receipt of income support in 2004-05, down from 39 per cent. These levels were still higher than the average rates for England as a whole (22 per cent. of children under four living in workless households and 18 per cent. in households receiving income support) but did show significant improvement.

Financial Services: Education

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on his Department's plans to improve financial literacy in schools. [149121]

Beverley Hughes: It is important that all young people have access to good personal finance education, so that they leave school with the skills and confidence to manage their money well.

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The recent HM Treasury strategy ‘Financial Capability: the Government's long-term approach’ set out a series of actions to improve financial capability in schools. This includes introducing a new, dedicated programme of study entitled ‘Economic Well Being’ as part of a revised curriculum for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education; publishing updated guidance for schools on the teaching of personal finance education; providing more support for teachers, by developing an extension module on financial capability within the PSHE continuous professional development programme; and developing curriculum materials to support the introduction of additional Child Trust Fund payments to seven-year-olds in 2009.

In addition, from 2010 we are introducing functional mathematics to the maths GCSE, which means that all pupils who achieve a grade C or above will have mastered the basics. We are also making £60 million funding available to secondary schools each year between 2005-06 and 2010-11 to provide a new focus on enterprise activity for pupils at key stage 4. Enterprise education helps young people to be creative and innovative and to take and manage risks with determination and drive, and is closely linked to financial capability in the school curriculum.

Learning and Skills Council

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on the future of the Learning and Skills Council. [149136]

Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

The machinery of government changes announced last week are designed to sharpen the Government’s focus on the new and very different challenges that Britain will face in the years ahead. Great strides have been made in all aspects of education and skills over the past few years. But the significant challenges posed by the future demand new approaches.

To provide strong strategic leadership for the 14-19 phase overall planning responsibilities for that phase will transfer to the Department for Children, Schools and Families as will all funding for 14-19 learners with the exception of that for apprenticeships. Subject to consultation on the details and timing, to ensure there is no disruption to schools, colleges and training providers and the introduction of new diplomas, and the need to pass the necessary legislation, funding for school sixth forms, sixth form colleges and the contribution of FE colleges to the 14-19 phase will transfer from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to local authorities’ ring-fenced education budgets.

To implement these changes for 14-19 policy and funding, we will need new legislation. As noted above, there will be consultation on the details and timing of the changes. In the short term, the LSC therefore remains responsible in law for the allocation of funds to all forms of post-16 education and training outside of higher education. The LSC has demonstrated in recent years a powerful focus on delivery and an excellent record in the management of public funds. In the interests of learners, schools and colleges, continuing that high performance will remain essential as we work through
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to the new organisational arrangements. The LSC will have a central role to play in managing the transition successfully.

The new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) will lead work to deliver the Government’s long-term vision to make Britain one of the best places in the world for science, research and innovation. It will also lead work to ensure that the nation has the skilled workforce it needs to compete in the global economy. In relation to post-19 education and training, we will consider, and consult on, the best way of delivering all of those functions and services that are necessary to support the FE sector and to achieve our skills ambitions. That will build on and sustain the progress made with the LSC over recent years in developing a demand-led approach that meets the needs of employers and learners, particularly through the successful Train to Gain programme.

In taking forward these changes, we will work closely with the LSC and other national partners along with schools, colleges and training providers, to ensure the changes are well managed and sustain institutional autonomy. We will take the opportunity to review how the funding and accountability framework can best support initiative and high performance both at institutional level and across the FE sector as a whole.

Schools: Standards

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools in Bournemouth are under special measures; and how long this has been the case in each instance. [148545]

Jim Knight: There is currently one school in the Bournemouth local authority that requires special measures. This is Townsend Primary and Nursery School which has been in this Ofsted category since November 2005.

Students: Loans

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what estimate he has made of the projected cost of all previous and proposed student loan sales to the public purse over their lifetime with respect to (a) interest subsidies and (b) the difference in cost between purchasing the loans by third parties and the face value of the loans. [147267]

Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

We are at the early stages of implementing the Budget announcement to sell income-contingent student loans. Further details will be announced in due course. Meanwhile we are confident that the Government will obtain good value for money, as it is obliged to do by rules of Government accounting.

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