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If a customer is concerned about losing their job or one they are about to start, because of a disability, the Disability Employment Adviser can provide advice about Access to Work. Access to Work can assist people with a disability or health condition who need support to overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability, allowing them to stay in or start their job.
I hope this is helpful.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set out a timetable for the implementation of proposals made in In work, better off: next steps to full employment document published in July 2007. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Highland ward of Merkinch received from the deprived areas fund in 2006-07; and how much it is estimated to receive in 2007-08. 
Caroline Flint: In 2006-07, the Deprived Areas Fund allocated to the Jobcentre Plus Highlands, Islands and Clyde Coast, and Grampian district included £10,495 for the Merkinch ward. The amount for 2007-08 is £32,340.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to revise his guidance to lay decision-makers assessing claims for disability living allowance from sufferers of myalgic encephalopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: Updated medical guidance on myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome for disability living allowance decision-makers was published in July 2007. The guidance is available on the Department's website. There are no current plans for further revision, but officials will continue to monitor new research and evidence in this area.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received from (a) myalgic encephalopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) charities, (b) medical professionals and (c) individuals with ME/CFS on his Department's advice on claimants suffering from this illness. 
Mrs. McGuire: The guidance published in July 2007 was written in consultation with medical experts from relevant medical specialities, including an expert nominated by groups representing people with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Consultation with groups representing people with CFS included three face-to-face meetings. Their comments and views were taken into account.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what scientific studies underlie his Department's guidance on benefit applicants with myalgic encephalopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department did not use any specific scientific studies to inform the revision of its guidance to disability living allowance decision-makers, but used instead a range of recognised experts in the field to help with drawing up the guidance. This process included engagement with bodies representing people with myalgic encephalopathy and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate his Department has made of the number of new jobs for (a) British citizens and (b) non-British citizens that the British jobs for British workers policy will produce; 
(2) what steps the Government have taken to promote British jobs for British workers; and what estimate he has made of the number of such jobs that will be created over the next (a) year, (b) three years and (c) decade. 
Caroline Flint: British jobs for British workers' refers to the Government's commitment to help disadvantaged people in this country who have been on benefits, often for prolonged periods of time, to move into work.
Our Welfare Reform Green Paper In work, better off: next steps to full employment sets out our proposals for moving further towards our aspiration of 80 per cent. employment. We will concentrate on helping the most disadvantaged individuals and families. Tackling inactivity, particularly among those on benefits, remains our top priority.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance his Department has provided to Jobcentre Plus employees on working with local authorities to meet the needs of adults with an autism spectrum disorder. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 30 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 the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what guidance has been provided to Jobcentre Plus employees on working with local authorities to meet the needs of adults with autism spectrum disorder. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
There is no specific guidance provided to Jobcentre Plus employees on working with local authorities to meet the needs of those with autism spectrum disorder.
However, Jobcentre Plus has a Service Level Agreement with local authorities setting out the joint activities Jobcentre Plus and local authorities undertake for their shared customers. This ensures both organisations continue to work together effectively and deliver a quality service to customers.
Furthermore, any customers who need extra support because of their disability, including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, can get help from a Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Adviser. The Disability Employment Adviser will tell them about specialised programmes available for disabled people and any suitable job vacancies. There are no Jobcentre Plus programmes specifically targeted at people with autism spectrum. All of these programmes work with customers across the full range of disabilities and health conditions, including those with autism spectrum disorder.
Disability Employment Adviser training includes periods of consolidation after training where they research into local organisations and provision for the benefit of customers. This develops effective working relationships with partners and would include local employers, the local authority, voluntary organisations and social services.
I hope this is helpful.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of jobseekers allowance claimants who are contacted (a) more frequently than every two weeks, (b) every two weeks and (c) less than every two weeks about their claim. 
The Secretary of State for Employment and Welfare Reform has asked me to reply to your question about the estimated number of Jobseekers Allowance claimants who are contacted about their claim more frequently than every two weeks; every two weeks; and less than every two weeks. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The vast majority of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance are required to attend the Jobcentre at least every two weeks to show they are actively seeking and available for work, and therefore remain entitled to payment. During certain key stages of the claim people are required to attend more frequently for short periods.
In 2006/07 there were 2.3 million claims for Jobseekers Allowance. Of these, about 60% (1.3 million) left before 13 weeks, and will have attended a Jobcentre Plus office on a fortnightly basis during that time. Those claiming beyond 13 weeks (about 965,000) will have had a combination of weekly/fortnightly contacts, depending upon the duration of their claim.
Additionally, in 2006/07 there was a total of 29,350 interviews with 7,337 customers suspected of working while claiming benefit, but where there was not enough evidence to warrant a full fraud investigation. These customers were required to attend the Jobcentre Plus office for a series of interviews arranged to take place on days other than their normal day of attendance in order to disrupt any potential work pattern.
The only exception to the requirement to attend the Jobcentre fortnightly or weekly is people who are able to maintain their claim by post, for example because of the distance they live from their nearest Jobcentre Plus office. While these people are not required to actually attend the Jobcentre as frequently as other customers, they are required, by post, to show they are actively seeking and available for work on a similar fortnightly or weekly basis, depending upon the length of their claim. We do not have information on the number of postal claimants, but the (postal) eligibility rules mean they only ever represent a small percentage of the overall number claiming Jobseekers Allowance.
Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether jobseeker's allowance claimants are permitted to refuse an offer of employment if they would not be made financially better off by accepting the offer; 
[holding answer 3 December 2007]: Jobseeker's allowance regulations do not normally allow claimants to refuse an offer of employment if they would not be made financially better off by accepting the offer. However, there are easements which allow good cause for refusing a job which are considered by an independent decision maker. They
will look at all the available evidence, and it is possible that they will consider the claimant has good cause for refusing an offer of employment, if they would not be made financially better off by accepting the offer.
The impact of these measures was considered in our Green Paper, In Work, Better Off: Next Steps to Full Employment, and in the subsequent consultation on its proposals. We will be responding to these in our White Paper Response.
Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) first, (b) second and (c) subsequent work-focused interviews for lone parents were booked between March 2006 and September 2007; and how many claimants were sanctioned for non-attendance in each category. 
|Work focused interviews for lone parents for the period March 2006 to August 2007|
|Work Focused Interviews (WFI)||Number of WFIs booked||Number of lone parents sanctioned for failing to attend WFI|
| Sources: 1. National Benefits Database. 2. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.|
The Governments regulations implementing the European Employment Directive (Council Directive 2007/78/EC) came into force on 1 October 2006 (Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006) and provided an exemption from age discrimination for employers using the youth (16-17 year-old) or development rates (18-21 year-old) of the minimum wage. The Government keep the position under review.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has any plans to exempt certain groups of lone parents from new requirements of conditionality outlined in In work, better off: next steps to full employment. 
Caroline Flint: The proposed changes from October 2008 would only affect those lone parents who are in receipt of income support solely on the basis that they are the parent of a child aged 12 or over. Further proposals are that this age may be brought down to a youngest child who will be seven years old by October 2010.
Other lone parents would be able to claim the appropriate benefit for their circumstances. For example, lone parents receiving carers allowance for disabled children (or for caring for others) will be able to continue to claim income support should they wish.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the net annual cost for each year from 2008 to 2025 of (a) paying the
basic state pension at its current level, increased annually in line with average earnings to all pensioners, (b) raising the basic state pension to the current level of the Pensions Credit Guarantee, increased annually in line with average earnings and paying it to all pensioners and (c) raising the basic state pension to 60 per cent. of median population income, increased annually in line with average earnings and paying it to all pensioners. 
|Estimated net additional costs for all UK pensioners|
|£ billion (2007-08 prices)|
|Financial year||(a) Basic state pension increased annually in line with average earnings||(b) Basic state pension increased to pension credit standard minimum guarantee increased annually in line with average earnings||(c) Basic state pension increased to 60 per cent. of median population income increased annually in line with average earnings|
1. Estimates are presented in net terms meaning that estimated savings from reduced income related benefit payments (pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit) have been deducted. The proportions of additional expenditure saved through reduced income related benefit payments in 2008-09 have been estimated using the Departments Policy Simulation Model. This proportion is assumed to remain constant in future years.
2. Column 2 is based on paying UK pensioners the current full value of the basic state pension of £87.30 per week uprated by the relevant Average Earnings Index of 3.5 per cent. and rounded to the nearest five pence, which gives a figure of £90.35 in 2008-09.
3. Column 3 is based on the value of the current level of the pension credit standard minimum guarantee of £119.05 per week for a single person, uprated by the relevant Average Earnings Index of 3.5 per cent. and rounded to the nearest five pence, which gives a figure of £123.20 in 2008-09.
4. Column 4: Sixty per cent. of median population income for a single person with no children after deducting housing costs was £108 per week in 2005-06 (Households Below Average Income: An analysis of the income distribution 1994/952005/06 (Revised), DWP). This figure has been uprated by average earnings to £121.60 per week in 2008-09.
5. In the financial years up to and including 2013-14 Treasury economic assumptions have been used to model earnings uprating. After this point a long term earnings growth assumption of 4.93 per cent. has been applied.
6. No changes have been made to the current or projected level of the savings credit threshold.
7. All pensioners is defined as all individuals over state pension age living in the United Kingdom. The estimates do not include pensioners claiming a UK pension, but living overseas. Including this group would increase the estimated costs.
8. The estimates are consistent with mid-2004 GAD population projections. We are currently in the process of revising our expenditure projections in line with the mid-2006 ONS population projections.
9. Estimates are in 2007-08 prices and have been rounded to the nearest £ billion.
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