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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has for pilot studies of private and voluntary sector involvement in the provision of employment support; what the timetable is for such pilots; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: Private and third sector organisations already play an important role in delivering employment support to people who are out of work. Examples of this include the new deal for disabled people, employment zones, and pathways to work, for which we are currently letting contracts. We will continue to learn from all of these different types of involvement and consider how we can provide better incentives and rewards for providers.
As our Green Paper In work, better off Cm7130, published on 18 July 2007, sets out, we are currently developing a more strategic approach to the commissioning of employment programmes. Over the coming months we will be talking to a wide variety of providers and others and drawing on evidence from the UK and elsewhere to inform this approach. We also propose to test certain approaches, such as rewarding providers who are successful in moving people into sustained employment with increased funds to invest in further activity.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in piloting the redesigned personal capability assessment; and what evaluations he has made of the results of the pilots. 
Caroline Flint: Following the early testing of the revised personal capability assessment that was carried out last year and reported in February 2007, we have completed a more extensive, Phase 2 test on a larger and more representative sample of cases. The outcome of this is currently being evaluated, and we expect to publish a report of Phase 2 evaluation in the late summer or early autumn.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the proportion of individuals in employment over state pension age who want to work; and what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on employment of people over the state pension age. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The number of people working past state pension age has been increasing, and currently stands at just under 1.2 million. Research has shown that there are a number of reasons why people want to continue working. Around one third of those people aged under 70 who retired after state pension age gave enjoying their job/working as one reason for retiring after SPA in 2002 research (DWP RR200). Financial reasons play an important part but also orientation towards work, job satisfaction and valued social networks formed through work are influential. Health status has an important influence over whether people are able to work after SPA.
Factors affecting labour market participation of older workers (DWP RR 200): a quantitative survey of 2,800 people aged 50 to 69;
Factors affecting labour market participation of older workers: qualitative research (DWP RR 281): a qualitative study with in-depth interviews and focus groups with individuals aged 50 to 69;
Working after state pension age: quantitative analysis (DWP RR 182): analysis of quantitative surveys such as the Labour Force Survey, Family Resources Survey, British Household Panel Survey looking as the circumstances under which people work after SPA;
Working after state pension age: qualitative research (DWP RR 208): in-depth interviews and focus groups with people approaching and over SPA including those in work and those not working.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which retailers have been chosen (a) in Scotland and (b) throughout the UK to supply the incentive vouchers used by engagement consultants employed by Working Links to attract potential recruits under the scheme since its commencement. 
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department keeps a record of the recruitment of individuals from New Deal programmes by other Government departments. 
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average level of housing benefit paid to (a) local authority tenants, (b) housing association tenants and (c) private sector tenants in the borough of Islington was in (i) the last 12 months and (ii) each of the last three years. 
|Average weekly amount of housing benefit by tenure in the London borough of Islington in the last available 12 months|
|£ per week|
|Local authority tenants||Registered social landlord tenants||Private tenants|
|Average weekly amount of housing benefit by tenure in the London borough of Islington in the last available three years|
|£ per week|
|Local authority tenants||Registered social landlord tenants||Private tenants|
| Notes: 1. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple. 2. Average amounts have been rounded to the nearest penny. 3. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated. 4. Housing benefit excludes any extended payment cases. Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in the quarters shown.|
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many officials an incapacity benefit claimant has to deal with on average before he or she can claim the benefit; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 12 September 2007]: Customers who wish to claim incapacity benefit can do so in several ways. They can telephone a Jobcentre Plus Contact Centre and speak to an official or arrange to see an official in a Jobcentre or obtain a claim form from Jobcentre Plus and return it by post or complete a claim form online via the Jobcentre Plus website.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support is available to assist (a) able-bodied and (b) disabled people who stop work at short notice due to incapacity in paying the interest on their mortgages; and what limits are placed on this support relating to (i) weekly payments, (ii) the size of mortgage covered and (iii) timespan for which support is available. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 26 July 2007]: There is no difference between income support and jobseeker's allowance regarding the level of assistance with housing costs for disabled and non-disabled claimants who leave work. Claimants who took out a mortgage after 2 October 1995 must wait 39 weeks before assistance with their housing costs is paid.
People who have caring responsibilities, or who have been refused payments under an insurance policy due to either a pre-existing medical condition or because they were infected with HIV may receive such assistance earlier.
Generally no assistance is available where a person takes a loan out while in receipt of benefit and no assistance is provided towards arrears, capital repayments or insurance premiums. Help can be given towards the interest on the first £100,000 of the outstanding loan. Such assistance with housing costs is available until entitlement to income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance ceases.
A claimant may take out a loan during their benefit claim in order to move to a new property that is more suitable for the needs of a disabled person. However, in these cases the capital limit of £100,000 would still apply.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking whether there are plans to close Jobcentre Plus offices in Scotland. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Over the last five years Jobcentre Plus has undertaken a programme of major refurbishment to modernise its office network and introduce improved business processes to support customers. This programme commenced in 2002 when Jobcentre Plus integrated the services formerly provided by the Employment Service and parts of the Benefit Agency. We inherited around 1,500 offices from these two organisations, many of which were unsuitable for Jobcentre Plus either in terms of their location or their physical structure.
I can confirm there are definite plans to close three Jobcentre Plus offices in Scotland; Portobello; Dundee (Seagate); and Perth. These offices currently deal with benefit processing only and therefore are not open to the public. The work is being migrated to our Benefit Delivery Centre network.
Since its inception Jobcentre Plus has continuously improved its services to customers through modern telephony and
e-services. This allows us to review our network of offices to focus our resources where they are most needed.
I hope this is helpful
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were employed by (a) the Employment Service and (b) Jobcentre Plus in each year since 2002, broken down by region. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Regional breakdown is not available for 2002 and 2003. The number of full-time equivalents (FTE) employed by Jobcentre Plus (formed in 2002) in each of these years is 86,910 and 82,904 respectively.
|FTE as at March:|
|(1) Figure includes staff in central support teams and the national directorates where a regional breakdown is not available.|
Jobcentre Plus Management Information Portal
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