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John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department is working with an accredited certified environmental management system (a) for its whole estate and (b) in some of its buildings. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 10 December 2007]: The Department for Work and Pensions meets the mandate within targets for sustainability on the Government estate by operating a corporate environmental management system, based on ISO 14001 across all its functions. It is not, at this time, intended to seek certification for this. Jobcentre Plus (an executive agency of DWP) operates an environmental management system which is accredited to ISO 14001 within its South East areathis covers 88 buildings and 6,000 staff.
Additionally, our estates partnerLand Securities Trilliumoperates an environmental management system accredited to ISO 14001, covering all the estates functions delivered by them at sites occupied by DWP.
In addition, we are currently undertaking a fuel poverty partnership pilot with the energy industry. This targets 250,000 pensioners in receipt of pension credit throughout England, Scotland and Wales, which aims to increase the take up of energy efficiency measures and Warm Front grants. In Scotland 16,500 recipients of pension credit will be contacted.
In the event of sustained freezing temperatures, eligible customers (generally those in receipt of income related benefits) may be entitled to cold weather payments. All of these activities are part of the cross government Keep Warm Keep Well initiative which aims to tackle fuel poverty.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people employed in his Department work on administering EU structural funds, and what the cost of such staff was in 2006-07.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government are taking to improve access to suitable financial instruments to reduce financial exclusion amongst those unable to use conventional financial arrangements due to their religious beliefs. 
It is the Government's strong belief that everyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs, should have access to appropriate financial products and services. To this end, the Government have introduced a number of legislative changes since 2003, including those to allow the equal tax treatment of mortgages that comply with Sharia'a principles, and will continue to make further changes where necessary. In addition, in April 2007 my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Ed Balls), the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, announced that National Savings and Investments (NS&I) would assess the feasibility of the Government issuing Sharia'a compliant retail products. NS&I will report back to Ministers in spring 2008.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 27 November 2007, Official Report, columns 333-34W, on fuel payments, in what form information relating to eligibility for winter fuel allowance is (a) collected and (b) made available; and what estimate his Department has made of the number of pensioner households eligible for the winter fuel allowance in (i) Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, (ii) the south west and (iii) England. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically because most people aged 60 and over are receiving a DWP benefit which allows us to check their eligibility based on information on our departmental computer systems. A person is ineligible for a winter fuel payment if, for example, they are serving a custodial sentence or have been in hospital for more than 52 weeks.
A small number of people who are not in receipt of a benefit administered by DWP need to complete a claim form so that we can assess their eligibility. Our publicity campaign, which we run each year, includes advertisements in the press and information in leaflets. This informs people of the qualifying conditions and how to claim if they need to.
It is not possible to give an estimate of the number of pensioner households eligible for a winter fuel payment in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the south west and England. This is because we do not know whether people whose details are not held by departmental systems may be eligible, unless they provide the relevant information on a claim form.
1. To qualify for a winter fuel payment a person has to be aged 60 or over and ordinarily resident in Great Britain during the September qualifying week but there are some exclusions to the qualifying conditions.
2. Statistics showing the number of households and individuals who receive winter fuel payments are placed in the Library each year.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2007, Official Report, columns 803-04W, on Jobcentre Plus: rural areas, (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of introducing flexible support arrangements for jobseekers; 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 7 January 2008]: 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 questions about the provision of flexible service support arrangements provided by Jobcentre Plus. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to Ms Strathie as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. I am replying in her absence as Acting Chief Executive.
We wrote to you on 13 December providing information regarding those factors that District Managers consider when reviewing local Service Delivery Plans. Every effort is made to ensure that all customers can access our services regardless of where they live. If there are concerns about customer access to a Jobcentre, we can arrange for flexible service provision.
The provision of services in our Districts, including flexible arrangements, follows an assessment of customer needs. This takes into account local knowledge, local circumstances, national priorities, and follows consultation with local stakeholders as how best to meet customer needs in the most efficient and effective manner.
I am sure that you will be aware of the Cornwall Works programme (that part of Cornwall's Local Area Agreement delivering on the worklessness agenda). This programme is a successful consortium of service providers, including a key input from Jobcentre Plus, and has introduced a Neighbourhood Action Team for Pengegon and Parc an Tansys. The collective effort of this group has facilitated the provision of services directly to customers in housing estates who need more support to address worklessness. This is clearly helping those who would not normally seek out services from a Jobcentre and is helping those in greatest need to find work or support in becoming ready for work. I am pleased that the concept of the Neighbourhood Action Team is likely to be expanded with the help of European Social Funding. I understand that Pengegon and Parc an Tansys as well as Redruth North, parts of Pool and Illogen are specifically earmarked.
The District has already successfully used European Social Funding to finance a series of projects, working with local organisations, to target help and support for those communities where there is greatest need.
There is also a great deal being done to meet the needs of customers in the Devon and Cornwall District in general and specifically for customers in and around your constituency. The flexible service provision includes:
access to a New Deal Lone Parent Adviser on an ad hoc basis in Children's Centres in Falmouth, Penryn and at a Family Centre in Falmouth;
access to a New Deal Lone Parent Adviser and Disability Employment Adviser on a fortnightly basis at Link into Learning in Falmouth;
joint working arrangements with the Children's Centres in Redruth, Camborne and St Day.
Furthermore during the consultation period on the closure of Camborne Jobcentre, Kerrier District Council offered the possibility of sharing their premises. This was subject to agreement by their Scrutiny Committee.
I am confident that the variety of programmes and activities supports our customers in Devon and Cornwall and your constituents. I encourage this type of support activity throughout Jobcentre Plus as it helps focus on greatest need and compliments the services already provided through our network of Jobcentres, Contact Centres and Benefit Delivery Centres.
Jobcentre Plus does not maintain a central list of the flexible support arrangements in place or a central record of the cost associated with introducing those arrangements and this information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. Information is held at District level because the arrangements tend to change and adapt to meet local circumstances.
Carolyn Webster, European Social Fund Manager for Devon and Cornwall, would be happy to help if you would like to discuss this local information in more detail, Carolyn can be contacted on 01872 355021.
I hope this reply is helpful.
Mr. Stewart Jackson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people in Peterborough constituency in
receipt of jobseekers allowance who have been offered suitable work and have refused it in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his responsibilities are in relation to the Joint Child Poverty Unit; and what arrangements are in place for liaison with other Departments on the work of the Unit. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 14 January 2008]: The Child Poverty Unit brings together officials from both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. It will report to Ministers in both Departments and to a child poverty board comprised of senior officials from across Whitehall. At ministerial level, this board will report to the Cabinet Committee on Domestic Affairs (Families, Children and Young People).
The unit will play a lead co-ordinating role, as the Government pursue their multi faceted child poverty strategy which includes transport, health and regeneration as well as employment, skills and the tax and benefit system, on the way towards our ambitious but vital goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020 a reality.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions officials in his Department have had with officials from HM Treasury on increasing the level of trivial commutation. 
During the next Parliament...we will re-link the uprating of the basic state pension to average earnings. Our objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, is to do this in 2012 but in any event at the latest by the end of the next Parliament. We will make a statement on the precise date at the beginning of the next Parliament.
|Financial year||Expenditure (£ million)|
The administrative costs for 2005-06 include the initial set up costs for the procurement, development and delivery of the FAS IT system to support FAS assessments and payments.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what percentage of staff in his Department met (a) 100 per cent. (b) 90 per cent. (c) 80 per cent. (d) 70 per cent. (e) 50 per cent. (f) 40 per cent. (g) 30 per cent. (h) 20 per cent. (i) 10 per cent. and (j) none of their objectives and targets in their most recent appraisals; 
(2) what percentage of staff in his Department met (a) 100 per cent. (b) 90 per cent. (c) 80 per cent. (d) 70 per cent. (e) 60 per cent. (f) 50 per cent. (g) 40 per cent. (h) 30 per cent. (i) 20 per cent. (j) 10 per cent. and (k) none of their objectives and targets in their most recent appraisals. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what objectives, targets or standards new employees in his Department are required to meet in their probationary period; and how the performance of new recruits in his Department is assessed. 
New recruits must complete a probation period of six months. During this time the probationers attendance, capability and conduct is monitored. Appropriate objectives and targets are set by line managers according to the particular role and degree of training required.
The performance of new recruits is assessed in the same way as any other employee in the Department. DWP has a Performance and Development System to support day-to-day performance management which applies to all staff up to and including Grade 6.
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