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22 Jan 2008 : Column 1886W—continued

Sub-Saharan Africa: AIDS

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to assist women in sub-Saharan Africa in combating HIV/AIDS. [180208]

Mr. Malik: The UK is the second largest bilateral funder of HIV and AIDS, having committed £1.5 billion between 2005 and 2008 and one of the largest donors on health. Women are highlighted as a priority in the UK AIDS strategy “Taking Action” and since its launch, the UK was central to securing international agreement on universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support at the 2005 G8 summit and subsequent UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS.

DFID will continue to support key international institutions and partnerships to address the needs of women affected by HIV and AIDS. For example, DFID has committed £1 billion to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria until 2015, subject to performance.

DFID will continue to work through its country programmes to fund prevention, treatment, care and support for women. For example, in Nigeria DFID will commit £100 million over six years to reduce the transmission of HIV, and mitigate the impact of AIDS on the lives of the most vulnerable. The programme will support women, girls, young people, orphans and vulnerable children and other vulnerable groups through collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s
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Affairs, civil society organisations and UN agencies. DFID will also work to integrate HIV and AIDS with maternal and child health and strengthen countries maternal health services. From 2007, DFID will invest £25 million over five years to improve maternal and newborn health in Zimbabwe. The programme will reduce the number of maternal deaths and reduce the number of children becoming infected or dying from HIV infection.

Work and Pensions

Backdated Pension Payments

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to ensure that where backdated pension payments of over £100 arise from the correction of omitted home responsibilities protection or the payment of Class 3 national insurance contributions in respect of one or more years between 1996-97 and 2001-02 such payments automatically include interest; if he will investigate whether interest has routinely been added to such payments in such circumstances in the past; and if he will make a statement. [170276]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 3 December 2007]: All backdated payments of £100 or more arising from the omission of home responsibilities protection or, in the case of a person who reached pension age before 24 October 2004, payment of voluntary contributions for one or more of the years 1996-97 and 2001-02, should be automatically considered for compensation under the terms of the Departmental Guide to Financial Redress for Maladministration a copy of which is obtainable at:

If the hon. Member has identified instances where compensation appears not to have been considered in these circumstances I would be grateful if he could let me have details of the individuals concerned.

Benefits: Offenders

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many prisoners released (a) in 2007 and (b) in the last five years are on jobseekers allowance; and what the cost to the public purse has been of ex-offenders claiming jobseekers allowance in each such year; [179720]

(2) how many prisoners released in the last five years were receiving housing benefit on the most recent date for which figures are available; and what the cost to the public purse was of paying such benefits in the last financial year. [179721]

Mr. Plaskitt: This information is not available.

Better Off in Work Credit

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to extend the time the proposed better off in work credit will be available beyond 26 weeks; and if he will make a statement. [175769] [Official Report, 31 January 2008, Vol. 471, c. 3MC.]

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Caroline Flint [holding answer 7 January 2008]: As the Prime Minister announced at the TUC Conference, the In Work Credit will be rolled out across the country from October 2008. We have no current plans to extend the credit beyond 26 weeks.

Children: Daycare

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to identify and address barriers to taking up formal child care by (a) low income groups, (b) lone parents, (c) workless households with two adults and (d) ethnic minorities. [177966]

Caroline Flint: DWP works closely with colleagues in the Department for Children, Schools and Families in the development of the Government’s child care strategy, to increase the supply, and improve the affordability, of formal child care for everybody, including low income groups, people in workless households and people from ethnic minorities.

In addition, Jobcentre Plus Childcare Partnership Managers are engaged with child care services at the local level to ensure that Jobcentre Plus staff are fully apprised of the issues around formal child care and developments in the local market. Advisers are then better able to advise their customers on the availability and benefits of formal child care.

Departmental Surveys

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what surveys his Department has conducted of its customers in the last 10 years; and if he will place in the Library copies of such surveys. [177969]

Mr. Plaskitt: For information up to February 2007, I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) on 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1049W.

Since 2005 Jobcentre Plus has undertaken a survey of its customers every two years. The 2007 Jobcentre Plus satisfaction survey report is due to be published later this year; copies will be placed in the Library on publication.

A customer satisfaction survey for the Pension Service's International Pension Centre was conducted last year. It is due for publication later this year; copies will be placed in the Library on publication. The Pension Service is now in the final stages of conducting its latest survey and the results will be published in July 2008.

The Child Support Agency conducted a client satisfaction survey last year. The results are due to be published later this year; copies will be placed in the Library on publication.

A copy of the Disability and Carers Service Customer Service Survey 2006-07 has been placed in the Library.

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Employment Schemes: Lone Parents

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the starting date for the implementation of the £60-per-week added support for lone parents to obtain and keep employment is for each Jobcentre Plus office branch in London. [177076]

Caroline Flint: In work credit has already been introduced in all Jobcentre Plus London districts except the North East London district. The amount of credit was increased in London from £40 to £60 per week in July 2007.

The £60 per week in work credit will be introduced in the North East London district from 28 January 2008, and implemented in all remaining Jobcentre Plus offices at the national rate of £40, from 7 April 2008.

Fireworks: Safety

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance the Health and Safety Executive has given to local authorities on municipal (a) bonfires and (b) firework displays. [176258]

Mrs. McGuire: While not aimed solely at local authorities, the Health and Safety Executive’s “Working together on firework displays” publication is relevant to anyone organising a firework display and to display operators. It was developed in association with stakeholders and includes practical guidance on safety arrangements for bonfires, as well as fireworks. A copy of the publication has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

HSE has also promoted straightforward fireworks guidance on its website. The site urges people not to over-react to the risks but instead to adopt simple, sensible precautions. The pages can be accessed at:

Housing Benefit

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people in receipt of housing benefit in each local authority in the UK who do not have access to a bank account. [180616]

Mr. Plaskitt: DWP has made no such estimate.

A person’s access to a bank account is not pertinent information for a housing benefit claim. Consequently, it is not recorded in the Department for Work and Pensions administrative data.

Housing Benefit: North East Region

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average level of housing benefit was for tenants of (a) local authorities, (b) registered social landlords and (c) private sector landlords in (i) North East and (ii) North Lincolnshire in each of the last five years. [179718]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is in the following table.

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Average weekly amount of housing benefit by tenure type, in North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire, as at February each year
North East Lincolnshire North Lincolnshire

Local authority tenants














Private sector tenants (excluding RSL)
















Registered social landlord (RSL) tenants
















‘—’ Denotes suppressed amount as case loads are below 10.
1. The average amounts have been rounded to the nearest penny.
2. The data refer to benefit units which may be a single person or a couple.
3. Figures exclude extended payments.
4. NE Lincolnshire transferred its housing stock to an RSL on 21 March 2005.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. taken in February 2003 to February 2007.

Jobcentre Plus: Data Protection

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what data sharing protocols are in place for Jobcentre Plus negotiations with (a) customer advocates and (b) intermediary organisations. [173275]

Caroline Flint: The Department has guidance for all staff on disclosing information to advocates and intermediaries. We have a duty to ensure that information is not improperly disclosed, but this must not interfere with the customers’ right to use and advocate or intermediary to help them conduct their business.

This guidance also applies to staff in all the Department’s Agencies, including Jobcentre Plus.

For customers with communication difficulties or disabilities, for example, the involvement of an advocate or intermediary not only helps them to access our services, but also helps us to obtain the information we need.

The guidance covers the steps to be taken when deciding whether to disclose information about a specific customer. When contact is made by telephone or in person, and it can be established, using judgment based
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on the information that the caller already holds about the customers business, and the type of questions they ask, that the caller is an advocate or intermediary who is clearly acting on behalf of the customer, then the customer’s consent can be considered implicit. If our staff have any doubt about the bona fides of the caller, they must ask for written authority from the customer before disclosing any information. Where requests for information are made in writing, a written authority from the customer is required.

Staff are told never to disclose information that the customer’s advocate would reasonably be expected to know, such as addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, names of household members and bank account details.

The full guidance can be accessed on the Department’s website at:

Jobseeker's Allowance: Peterborough

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals in Peterborough constituency had been in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance in excess of 12 months as at 31 December 2007; and if he will make a statement. [178093]

Mr. Plaskitt: As at December 2007 there were 250 people in the Peterborough parliamentary constituency with a jobseeker’s allowance claim of over 12 months duration.

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