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24 July 2007 : Column 1020W—continued


Work and Pensions

Antisocial Behaviour: Housing Benefit

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the timetable is for pilot schemes in respect of the withdrawal of housing
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benefit as a sanction against households evicted for antisocial behaviour and who refuse to engage in a rehabilitation programme. [150850]

Mr. Plaskitt: We will pilot the scheme in eight local authorities, starting 1 November 2007, for a period of two years.

Child Support Agency: Fees and Charges

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons the Child Support Agency ceased its policy of charging a fee for use of its services in 1995; and if he will make a statement. [146434]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 24 July 2007:

Children: Maintenance

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what amount of Child Support Agency arrears has been collected directly from non-resident parents' assets in each year since 1996-97; and if he will make a statement. [146435]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:


24 July 2007 : Column 1022W
Payments received directly by non-resident parents’ assets in England and Wales and Scotland
£
Payments received by process 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

England and Wales

Bailiff

2,966,000

5,249,000

6,987,000

Order for recovery

90,000

120,000

101,000

Charging order/order for sale

1,027,000

1,493,000

2,357,000

Third party debt order

430,000

508,000

588,000

Scotland

Attachment and exceptional attachment

26,000

54,000

118,000

Inhibition

72,000

306,000

242,000

Arrestment

28,000

53,000

147,000

Total

4,639,000

7,783,000

10,540,000

Notes: 1. Due to the implementation of a new management information system in 2003 the information requested is available only from 2004-05. The table details the amounts recovered by the various enforcement tools available to the agency. 2. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the capacity of the private and voluntary sectors to provide low cost and free advice to separating parents on child maintenance issues; and if he will make a statement. [146703]

Mr. Plaskitt: From October 2008 we will have established an Information and Support Service where both parents can easily access free information and guidance in relation to child maintenance. To inform the design of this service we are actively engaging with voluntary sector organisations that have expertise in this area. The Department is also in the process of undertaking an assessment of the market capacity to deliver an information service from 2008 onwards. This assessment is necessary to inform our decision making regarding how the services can be most effectively delivered. We will not begin our procurement processes until this assessment is complete which we envisage will be late autumn 2007.

Counselling: Separation

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to introduce further advice and counselling services for separating couples with children. [147244]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Information and Support Service is a critical element of our reform programme. We will provide a national service available to all separate and separating parents who need help to think through their options or establish maintenance arrangements. A key aspect of this will be a national contact centre with web-based support and a face-to-face service where appropriate.

These services will provide high quality information products including a guide for parents and a standard maintenance agreement form and will signpost other
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relevant parenting services. We will pro-actively direct low income families towards this service with the support of Jobcentre Plus and HMRC.

We also recognise that separating parents are not always clear about the issues they need to address and, likewise, the need to resolve wider separation issues first can act as a barrier to making maintenance arrangements. With this in mind, the Commission may also provide guides and links to key public and voluntary sector services and literature on non-maintenance related issues such as housing, benefits, debt and contact.

In order to fully understand what services separated or separating parents require we will carry out additional research that will help us develop further our understanding of what information and support services will be needed in the future.

Departments: Agencies

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Department paid in fees to recruitment agencies for (a) temporary and (b) permanent staff in each year since 1997. [151663]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Visits Abroad

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many overseas visits were made by (a) officials and (b) Ministers within his responsibility, and at what cost, in each year since 1997. [151641]

Mrs. McGuire: This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500, as well as the total cost of all ministerial travel overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. Information for 2006-07 is currently being compiled and will be published before the summer recess. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Civil Service Management Code and the Ministerial Code.

Disabled: Children

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps have been taken to promote inter-departmental working to help disabled children and their families following the former Prime Minister's overview, ‘Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People’, with particular reference to measures to help unemployed parents of disabled children who are seeking work; and if he will make a statement. [150853]

Mrs. McGuire: In January 2005, the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit published their report, ‘Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People’. The report set out the Government's vision and made recommendations relating to disabled children, young people making the transition to adulthood, employment and independent living.


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The Office for Disability Issues was established in December 2005 and is working across Government to improve outcomes for disabled people, including through a ministerial group and the board of management, both of which bring together a range of Departments to oversee delivery of the Government's strategy.

The chapter of the Life Chances report which considered employment did not make any specific recommendations relating to parents with disabled children. However, proposals set out in the July 2007 Green Paper, ‘In Work, Better Off’ are intended to make better use of the new deal approach for people who claim benefit as unemployed and are actively seeking work but who face significant barriers to finding work, including caring responsibilities at home.

More recently, the joint HMT/DfES children and young people's review, ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families’, published in May 2007, looked at how services can provide greater support for families with disabled children. The report's findings are feeding into the comprehensive spending review and will be implemented through a cross-Government framework.

Employment Schemes

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many job applicants have undertaken a 15 day work trial since the inception of the trial programme; and how many of these have resulted in the applicant taking the position. [146558]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide my hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 24 July 2007:

April to March each year: Work trial starts

2000-01

6,580

2001-02

4,390

2002-03

3,340

2003-04

2,240

2004-05

1,700

2005-06

2,040

2006-07

3,640


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Financial Assistance Scheme: Peterborough

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many residents of Peterborough constituency have been in receipt of funds under the Financial Assistance Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [151555]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: As at 13 July 2007, there are 24 residents of Peterborough constituency in receipt of assistance from the Financial Assistance Scheme.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the introduction of the local housing allowance; and what assessment he has made of the impact of its introduction on residents in rural areas. [150705]

Mr. Plaskitt: Local housing allowance (LHA) will be introduced nationally from 7 April 2008 and the preparation for its implementation is under way in all local authorities. It has been extensively evaluated in nine pathfinder areas and tested for operational readiness in a further nine. These local authorities were chosen to provide a range of different housing markets, geographical factors and labour markets.

One of the pathfinders, Teignbridge, is largely a rural area. As in the other eight evaluated LHA pathfinder areas, the implementation and delivery in Teignbridge was considered successful and the impact of the local housing allowance is covered in the local housing allowance evaluation publications.


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