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17 Sep 2007 : Column 2278Wcontinued
The number of files held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its agencies at July 2007 is approximately 52.7 million (this includes 7.3 million DCS files are held at Nelson store).
DWP employs a policy to actively maintain and retain customer information and documentation for as long as they are required for departmental business purposes.
Documentation relating to customer claims for benefit are retained for as long as the decision to pay or not pay on the claim remains current and 14 months after it is superseded, withdrawn or refused.
The retention of corporate documentation is determined by business need, taking into account any statutory, legal considerations. Corporate information, such as Registered Files are retained, reviewed and disposed of in accordance with the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967 and in consultation with the National Archives.
This takes regard to the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000, however, retention periods are determined to meet DWP business purposes.
Access to all records is strictly determined by departmental business reasons. Operational procedures are in place to control this.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 84W, on Departments: Departmental Records, what mechanisms are in place to prevent the duplication of files for the same claimants. 
Mrs. McGuire: Customer details are entered onto DWPs electronic file system using the national insurance number as the key unique identifier and this will prevent the duplication of customer files.
Each business unit and benefit type within that unit will retain its own record/file for each individual. Within DWP guidance there is a requirement to consider previous records and either maintain all documents within one file or ensure that the earlier files are marked for destruction depending on how long ago the previous claim went dormant.
In addition there may be occasions for urgent cases when a duplicate file may be raised with the intention that is linked with the original at the first opportunity. Depending on linking rules some benefits will legitimately have more than one record.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many employees of his Department in receipt of statutory sick pay moved on to incapacity benefit in each year since 1997, broken down by disease group. 
Caroline Flint: Unfortunately this information cannot be calculated in the timescale and would be at disproportionate cost. The Payroll system does not hold data on staff who move from SSP to incapacity benefit. The Data Matching Service have advised that it would be a disproportionate cost to get this information from the PSCS system.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many press officers are employed by his Department. 
Mrs. McGuire: As at 30 July 2007, 16 national press officers and 26 regional press officers were employed by the Department.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many individuals recruited by his Department from new deal programmes since the inception of the scheme left within (a) six and (b) 12 months; 
(2) how many individuals his Department has recruited from new deal schemes since the inception of the new deal, broken down by scheme. 
Mrs. McGuire: We are unable to provide the number of individuals the Department has recruited from new deal schemes, by specific scheme, as this information is not collected.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of staff in his Department are making additional voluntary contributions to their pensions; and what steps he has taken in the last year to encourage more people to make such contributions. 
Mr. Plaskitt: 2,189 members of staff in the Department for Work and Pensions (1.74 per cent. of the total number of staff employed by the department) currently make additional voluntary contributions through deductions from their pay.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent by his Department on newspapers and magazines in the last 12 months. 
Mrs. McGuire: The DWP spent a total of £126,393.63 on periodicals and newspapers in the last 12 months.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent by his Department on first class train tickets in the last 12 months. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department spent £9.48 million on first class rail tickets in the last 12 months.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average duration was of an absence from work through sickness in his Department in each year since 1997. 
Mrs. McGuire: Official figures on the level of sickness absence in the civil service are reported by the Cabinet Office annually in a report titled Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service. However, the Cabinet Office does not report average duration at summary level in this report, therefore the figures quoted in the table are taken from data held internally. Data on average durations have been recorded internally since 2002-03.
|Financial year||Average duration working days|
The figures for average duration are based on April to March working days.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what total amount of statutory sick pay was received by employees of his Department in each year since 1997; 
(2) how many and what proportion of employees in his Department were in receipt of statutory sick pay in each year since 1997; 
(3) how much occupational sick pay has been paid to employees of his Department in each year since 1997. 
Caroline Flint: A new system has been rolling out since November 2006 and the information cannot be provided from legacy systems without disproportionate cost. On the new system the information will not be available until the end of the financial year.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent by his Department on industrial tribunals in the last 12 months. 
Mrs. McGuire: The total amount spent by the Department for Work and Pensions in legal costs (representing the amount spent on case workers, lawyers and barristers) in defending Employment Tribunal claims between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2007 is £2,907,334.90.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will consider locating or relocating additional departmental jobs to Westmorland and Lonsdale. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department currently employs 26.91 (full-time equivalent) staff within the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency at the Jobcentre Plus office in Kendal. The Department has no plans at this time to either expand on or reduce the service delivered from this Jobcentre Plus office.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to improve the delineation of responsibility between the Social Fund and other public agencies in connection with the provision of disability aids and adaptations. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 10 September 2007]: The Social Fund is flexible and capable of covering a wide range of individual circumstances. In particular, the Social Fund Community Care Grant complements the help of other supporting agencies such as the national health service and local authorities in fulfilling general aims for community care.
It is the responsibility of local Social Services Departments to carry out assessments and provide assistance with necessary aids and adaptations for disabled people. Guidance to Social Fund decision makers makes it clear that a Community Care Grant should be considered in the normal way where expenses do not fall within the statutory responsibility of a local authority.
Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claims for disability living allowance there were between April 2006 and January 2007. 
Mrs. McGuire: Between April 2006 and January 2007 there were 355,090 claims received for disability living allowance.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claims for disability living allowance were made in each year since 1997; what proportion were approved; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: The available information is in the following table.
|Disability living allowance (DLA) new claims|
|Year ended November||Total DLA claims received||Percentage of claims approved|
| Notes :|
1. These data are drawn from management information and should not be used in conjunction with sample statistics drawn from the benefit administration systems.
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10;
DCS Computer System
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what circumstances an individual's eligibility for disability living allowance is reassessed; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: Eligibility to disability living allowance is reassessed when an award is due to end and a further claim is submitted, or when the customer asks for the decision to be looked at again or when information is received suggesting that there has been a change of circumstances since the original award of benefit was made.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the earnings disregard for disability living allowance was in April of each year since 1997. 
Mrs. McGuire: Disability living allowance is not an income-related benefit. Earnings are not taken into account when entitlement is assessed and there is therefore no earnings disregard.
Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disability living allowance claimants appealed against decisions made on their claims between April 2006 and January 2007. 
Mrs. McGuire: From 1 April 2006 to 31 January 2007, 79,237 appeals were registered on the disability living allowance computer system.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to list the groups in the working age population which he thinks should not be expected to work. 
Mr. Plaskitt: A key element of the Government's strategy to increase the overall employment rate is to extend employment and skills support to those who are economically inactive.
Establishing a list of groups that are not expected to work might limit the aspirations of those who, where appropriate and with the right support, could re-enter the labour market and then move back into work. In our Welfare Reform Green Paper In work, better off Cm 7130, published on 18 July 2007, we have reiterated our aim of extending the opportunity to work to all.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he plans to make of the analysis of the barriers to work set out in the National Audit Office report Helping People from Workless Households into Work, HC 609. 
We welcome the National Audit Office report Helping People from Workless Households into Work. As the report describes, there are now more people in work than ever before and the existing range of employment programmes have been a success. They are also right that there remain three
million workless households with too many children living in poverty. This is why we have put forward new proposals in the Green Paper, In work, better off: next steps to full employment, to deliver a step change in the employment and skills support we offer to the most disadvantaged in the labour market.
We will consider their analysis of the barriers to work and the recommendations they have made.
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