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Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans to issue guidance on translation services for local authorities, Departments and their agencies; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what percentage of community care grant applications were granted (a) in total and (b) at each benefit delivery centre in 2006-07; 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 21 November 2007]: 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.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking what percentage of Community Care Grant applications were granted in total and at each benefit delivery centre in 2006-07; what the average time was to process a Community Care Grant application in total and at each benefit delivery centre in 2006-07; how many outstanding Community Care Grant applications there were at each benefit delivery centre in each month since March and what assessment has been made of levels of financial hardship resulting from the time taken in processing Community Care Grants. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The percentage of Community Care Grant applications processed which were granted in total and at each Social Fund operating unit in 2006-07 is in table 1. This does not include applications which were initially refused but later granted on review. The average time taken to process a Community Care Grant application and at each Social Fund operating unit in 2006-07 is in table 2.
The processing time for an individual application is measured in whole working days from the date of receipt of the application to the date of the decision, inclusive. The minimum processing time recorded for an individual application is one day, even if the application is processed immediately.
The number of outstanding Community Care Grant applications at each benefit delivery centre at the end of each month from March to October 2007 is in table 3.
Copies of the tables have been placed in the House of Commons Library.
No assessment has been made of levels of financial hardship resulting from the time taken in processing Community Care Grants. However, we have plans in place to improve our performance on Community Care Grant clearance times.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department for Work and Pensions has a requirement for a wide variety of software from a large number of manufacturers due to the complexity of its business operations and supporting IT systems.
BEA Software Ltd.
The Department's software is obtained either by direct procurement via a contracted software reseller or as part of a service via its IT service providers (some at corporate level and some at operational level).
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department and its agencies spent on staff working on (a) marketing and (b) branding in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. 
Mrs. McGuire: The figures noted in the following table represent the costs for staff working in Branding and Marketing in the Department and its agencies. Figures used are for the last financial year (2006-07). It is not possible to separate branding and marketing without obtaining disproportionate cost.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department and its agencies spent on managing their corporate identities in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department runs a number of promotional campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of rights and responsibilities. The table details spend on advertising campaigns run by the Department in financial year 2006-07 for which figures are available.
Government policies and programmes affect the lives of millions of people and in order for them to work they must be communicated effectively. But that also has to be done with cost efficiency in mind and there are strict rules to ensure value for money on Government advertising.
|Departmental advertising costs 2006-07( 1)|
|1 The table does not include the following as the information is not held centrally and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost:|
spend by non-departmental bodies for which the Department is responsible
details of highly localised publicity activity by the Departments customer-facing
recruitment or procurement advertising
The information in the table relates to media buying expenditure only, which forms the bulk of departmental publicity expenditure, but excludes direct mail, public relations, production and other costs. All figures are exclusive of VAT.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the ease of completing disability living allowance application forms; and if he will (a) bring forward proposals to review the format of the forms and (b) consult the National Autistic Society on their recommendations for changes to the application process. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 26 November 2007]: The administration of disability living allowance is a matter for the Acting Chief Executive of the Disability and Carers Service, Mrs. Vivien Hopkins. She will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the ease of completing disability living allowance application forms; and if he will (a) bring forward proposals to review the format of the forms and (b) consult the National Autistic Society on their recommendations for changes to the application process.
The Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire MP, promised you a substantive reply from the Acting Chief Executive of the Disability and Carers Service.
We have a long standing commitment to improving our service to our customers, including identifying and implementing improvements to claim forms for Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
By way of background the claim form has to cater for the fact that disabling conditions affect different people in different ways, varying enormously from individual to individual, and may also change over time in a way that is not always easy to predict.
For these reasons it is vital that each person has the opportunity to explain, on the claim form, exactly how their disability affects their personal care and mobility needs. In addition, over 70% of DLA working age customers have more than one medical condition and forms must therefore allow customers to explain the needs arising from physical, mental or sensory impairments, or any combination of these.
Since September 2005, we have aimed to better balance the needs of both our customers and our decision makers by changing the format of our claim forms to a tick box format with more specific questions. This enables the customer to focus more easily on the information required and simplifies completion by the customer, carer or representative. At the same time, it provides the level of detail that DCS decision makers need to understand the impact of the customers medical condition on their daily life, when considering the legislative criteria for entitlement. The forms allow the customer to provide additional detail in free text, if necessary.
In developing a new claim form for DLA customers of working age, customer research was conducted using qualitative methods, and extensive consultation with the DCS Advisory Forum (DCS AF) was undertaken. The first version of a new DLA claim form was introduced in September 2005 and used for 6 months in the Bootle and Manchester areas. An amended version was introduced in April 2006 following further consultation with the DCS AF and this version was fully evaluated.
The evaluation undertaken found that customers were significantly more satisfied with the new claim form than had been the case in the 2005/2006 MORI survey of DCS customers about the national claim forms. Staff, and decision makers in particular, were also generally positive about the new form compared to the previous version, particularly the inclusion of tick boxes.
Further revisions were made to the form as a result of ongoing evaluation and feedback, resulting in the new DLA 1 Adult claim form that was rolled out for national use in April 2007.
I now turn to part (b) of your question asking if DCS will consult with the National Autistic Society on their recommendations for changes to the application process. I can confirm that we are currently working with key stakeholders, including parents and representatives of childrens welfare organisations, to consider the issues around the application process for children, including possible revisions to the DLA Child claim form. The National Autistic Society is one of the groups represented and they are therefore aware of the potential changes to the DLA Child claim form.
This work is at an early stage and development of a revised version of a DLA Child claim form for testing and evaluation is planned during 2008.
Please let me know if I can help further.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much funding has been (a) made available and (b) spent to make the buildings occupied by his Department fully accessible to disabled people. 
Mrs. McGuire: The vast majority of the Department's estate is occupied under the terms of the PRIME PFI contract. DWP pays a unitary charge in return for fully serviced accommodation. Under the terms of the PRIME contract, Land Securities Trillium (LST) are responsible for funding works associated with legislative requirements. This includes works to improve accessibility.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the median housing benefit payment made to claimants was in the private rented sector in each London local authority in 2006. 
|Average weekly amount of housing benefit paid to private rented sector tenants by London local authorities: February, May, August and November 2006|
|Average weekly amount( 1) (£)|
|(1) Amounts are a weighted four quarter average of data at February, May, August and November 2006.|
1. Amounts have been shown to the nearest penny.
2. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases.
3. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.
4. Figures for non-responding local authorities have been estimated.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. scan taken in February, May, August and November 2006.
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