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10 Jan 2008 : Column 716Wcontinued
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's policy is on recycling. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Targets for sustainable operations on the Government estate require DWP to improve its environmental performance across a range of activities. During 2006-07 the Department recycled 67 per cent. of its waste, exceeding the specific target to recycle 40 per cent. of waste by 2010 and placing us in a strong position to meet the 2020 target to recycle 75 per cent. of our waste.
The Department's sustainable development policy statement commits the Department to maximise recycling wherever possible. Working with our estates partners, Land Securities Trillium, we have concentrated on our major waste streams and have rolled out total paper recycling across the whole estate. We are now exploring how this scheme can be further enhanced and extended to improve performance further.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much and what proportion of its waste his Department recycled in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Plaskitt: DWP waste figures, as reported in Sustainable Development in Government reports up until 2005-06, are provided in the following table. The figures shown for 2006-07 will be reported by the Sustainable Development Commission early in 2008.
|Total waste (tonne)||Waste recycled (tonne)||Waste recycled (percentage)|
|(1) Figures for 2002-03 include information on waste generated from buildings on the former DSS estate only. Information on waste generated from buildings on the former Employment Service estate are not available.|
(2) Figures for 2003-04 include information for the whole year on waste generated from buildings on the former DSS estate, and for one quarter only for waste generated from buildings on the former Employment Service Estate.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what sustainability appraisal his Department has conducted of its recent relocation announcements; and what the outcome of the appraisal was. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 10 December 2007]: The Department for Work and Pensions Head Office Estate (HOE) Programme undertook a diversity and equality assessment in each of the geographical areas in which closures were proposed which also addressed sustainability issues. The assessment showed that rationalisation would provide:
More conference and meeting facilities (including video conferencing) reducing the need to travel;
The city centre sites generally have good public transport links;
Good workspace practice enables the estate to better support the Departments core business while reducing resource usage and cost; and
The buildings that are being closed are generally of a lower standard of accommodation than the buildings being retained once refurbished e.g. Peel Park, one of the retained sites in the North West has been accredited with ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.
Improved working conditions for Departmental staff;
Greater access to quiet rooms and open plan workspace thereby breaking down barriers, increasing staff morale and improving communication; and
Many of the retained sites have gym facilities, nursery and holiday play schemes operating and additional facilities such as Prayer Rooms, contemplation and nursing mother rooms.
In addition, the HOE Programme must also satisfy the DWP requirement to help to deliver the objectives of the 3rd UK Strategy for Sustainable Development and the programme team work proactively with others to ensure appropriate compliance is achieved including expert review of design proposals where appropriate.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his Departments publication Ready for Work, what forecast he has made of (a) the likely number of work focused interviews
which will be attended by lone parents in each quarter until 2011, broken down by (i) region, (ii) ethnicity and (iii) family size, (b) the annual cost of providing such work focused interviews, (c) the number of additional staff needed to provide such work focused interviews and (d) the cost of such additional staff in each quarter until 2011. 
Caroline Flint: The full information requested is not available. The Impact Assessment published alongside the publication Ready for Work: full employment in our generation presented our current estimates of the impact of the proposals on the number of lone parents on benefits and costs. Work is ongoing on detailed implementation plans.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for how long a person under 25 years old must (a) have not been in education, employment or training and (b) have been claiming jobseekers allowance to qualify for accelerated entry to the new Gateway. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 7 January 2008]: The proposals are to fast track those aged 20 and over to the new Gateway if they have spent a large proportion of the previous two years in receipt of jobseekers allowance. Those aged under 20 who have not had time to build up two years of benefit history will be fast tracked to the new Gateway on the basis of how much time they have previously spent not in education, employment or training or in receipt of jobseekers allowance. Precise qualifying criteria for both age groups have yet to be determined. These arrangements will be mandatory.
Subject to capacity, Jobcentre Plus will also give voluntary early access to the new Gateway to other disadvantaged groups.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the administration of the financial assistance scheme in making timely payments to those who qualify for assistance under the scheme. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: A review was carried out during this year by Mercers Human Resource Consulting which reported back in August that the process of gathering data to operate the financial assistance scheme (FAS) is fit for purpose and is managed in a satisfactory manner.
They also concluded that delays in obtaining high enough quality data are sometimes due to problems for trustee's administrators and insurance firms being able to supply information.
As of 18 December 2007 3,665 people were receiving assistance payments from the financial assistance scheme and £11,786,114 has been paid out. This compares to the same time last year when 675 members were receiving assistance totalling £2,003,227.
Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department plans to take to improve the administration of housing benefit by local authorities. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Since 2002-03, housing benefit and council tax benefit (HB and CTB) administration has improved significantly. In 2002-03, the national average for the time taken to deal with new claims to HB and CTB was 55 days, with the worst 15 per cent. taking an average of 99 days. These worst 15 per cent. performing authorities have made the greatest improvements in 2006-07 by processing claims in 54 days. In 2006-07, the national average had improved to 33 days.
Complaints to the local government ombudsman regarding HB and CTB administration have also fallen by 72 per cent. between 2000-01 and 2006-07 from 4,028 to 1,121 complaints. In 2006-07, HB and CTB administration accounted for only 6 per cent. of complaints, compared to 21 per cent. in 2001-02.
We will continue to monitor local authorities performance, engaging where appropriate with the poor performers and will continue to provide consultancy support and good practice on all aspects of HB and CTB administration.
We are continually taking steps to simplify the system to make it easier for local authorities to administer the scheme, for example, the roll-out of the local housing allowance from April 2008 is a more straightforward and transparent way of calculating entitlement to housing benefit in the private sector. We have also developed a new IT link which passes information about DWP benefits straight to the computers of housing benefit/council tax benefit staff. These initiatives will help in the administration of the scheme.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) the East of England and (b) Suffolk claiming incapacity benefits had drug or drink dependency as their primary medical conditions in each of the last five years. 
Mrs. McGuire: The available information is in the following table.
|Number of incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance claimants in east of England and Suffolk, who have alcoholism or drug abuse as their main disabling condition|
|East of England||Suffolk|
|Quarter ending||Alcoholism||Drug abuse||Alcoholism||Drug abuse|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. Causes of incapacity are based on the International Classification of Diseases, 10(th) Revision, published by the World Health Organisation.
4. All IB/SDA claimants in east of England and Suffolk who have alcoholism or drug abuse as their main disabling condition are working age.
DWP Information Directorate 100 per cent Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) incidents and (b) complaints were (i) reported to and (ii) investigated by the Health and Safety Executive in each of the last four years. 
Mrs. McGuire: The information requested is as follows:
(a) The numbers of Incidents reported to HSE (i.e. those reportable under RIDDORreporting of injuries, diseases, and dangerous occurrences regulations), and the number of these incidents which meet the Health and Safety Commission's (HSC) investigation selection criteria and which are investigated, in each of the last four years are as follows:
|Al HSE Reportable RIDDOR Incidents||Numbers investigated meeting HSC's selection criteria|
(b) The numbers of complaints reported to HSE, and investigated, in each of the last four years are as follows:
|Total number of complaints reported||Total number investigated( 1)|
|A majority of complaints are investigated by Complaints Officers and not HSE Inspectors. Dependent on the seriousness of the nature of the complaint it may be referred to an inspector to investigate.|
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) enforcement notices have been served and (b) prosecutions have been initiated by health and safety inspectors under health and safety at work legislation in each year since 2002-03. 
Mrs. McGuire: The information requested is as follows:
(a) The total number of enforcement Notices issued by the HSEthe Health and Safety Executivesince 2002-03 are:
|Total number of Notices issued|
|(1) Half year figures.|
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