Previous Section Index Home Page

18 Feb 2008 : Column 220W—continued


Teachers: Communication

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what mechanisms are in place to inform teachers of (a) new legislation and (b) new guidelines; and if he will make a statement. [185310]

Jim Knight: The Department only sends information automatically to schools in England in exceptional cases having stopped regular paper mailings in December 2004. Discussions with head teachers and detailed research showed that schools wanted to be able to choose the information and guidance they needed, when they needed them.

Instead the Department implemented a new model communications approach that combines e-mail, internet, an online ordering system, Teachers TV, and Teachers Magazine—all help signpost legislation and guidance as well as presenting information in a user friendly way. This has been well received by schools and puts them in control of what they receive, when they receive it and the number of paper-based copies they require.

The Department now issues a fortnightly email to all schools highlighting key information of importance including legislation and guidance. In addition to this, the Department’s communications directorate offers information and support to schools via a range of channels including:

Teachers Magazine and Governors Newsletter

Issued six times a year and distributed to teachers and governors homes and to schools.

TeacherNet, Standards Site and GovernorNet

Online information, resources and help for people who work in schools. Work is currently being taken forward to bring these sites into a single new website for schools—“SchoolsWeb”.

Teachers’ TV

A new innovative digital television channel launched in February 2005—the first of its kind. Teachers’ TV is editorially independent of the Department and provides support, good practice from around the
18 Feb 2008 : Column 221W
system. It also offers content of interest and value to broader communities including parents and others in the children’s work force.

All of our work on communications (online ordering, Teachers Magazine, Governors Newsletter, Teachers TV, e-mail communications, and SchoolsWeb) build on the guiding principles that our communications must be accessible, add value, aim to reduce burdens, drive improved standards, and contribute where possible to greater efficiency.

An annual report is presented to Parliament each year, listing the documents sent from the Department and its agencies to all schools.

Work and Pensions

Health and Safety

12. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on Government policy on enforcement of health and safety law. [186555]

Mrs. McGuire: The Government support the Health and Safety Commission and Executive's policy of firm but fair enforcement of health and safety law, as set out in their published Enforcement Policy Statement.

Worklessness

13. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of trends in the level of worklessness among under 25 year olds since 1997. [186556]

Mr. Timms: Claimant unemployment is falling for 18 to 24-year-olds and is down 167,000 since 1997. In 1997, over 80,000 18 to 24-year-olds had been receiving jobseeker’s allowance for over 12 months. Today, that figure is fewer than 7,000.

Poverty

14. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate the Government has made of levels of poverty among disadvantaged groups. [186559] [Official Report, 26 February 2008, Vol. 472, c. 16MC.]

Mr. Timms: The number of children in poverty has fallen by 600,000 in the past decade, the number of pensioners by over a million and the number of disabled people by 900,000. We are determined to make further progress.

Local Employment Partnerships

16. Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many local employment partnerships are in operation; and if he will make a statement. [186561]

Mr. Timms: Over 500 employers have now signed up, and over half of them are now up and running. In the north-east last week I signed partnership agreements with Sembcorp at the Wilton petrochemicals complex,
18 Feb 2008 : Column 222W
and with Nissan at Sunderland. Over 2,000 disadvantaged jobless people have found work through local employment partnerships so far.

Child Support Agency

18. Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the performance of the Child Support Agency following the introduction of the operational improvement plan. [186564]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Agency's performance has significantly improved since the Operational Improvement Plan was launched in April 2006.

The Agency clears more applications than it receives per month and uncleared new scheme applications are at their lowest since March 2003. Over half of all new applications are cleared within six weeks.

However, the real test is the difference made for children by collecting or arranging maintenance. Nearly 675,000 children now benefit from maintenance, an increase of around 78,000 since the plan was launched.

Welfare Services

19. Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has to personalise welfare services. [186565]

Mrs. McGuire: Jobcentre Plus already provides tailored personal advice. Our successful Pathways to Work pilots, combining employment and health support, have already shown significant success in getting people off benefit and into employment.

We are proposing more personalised support for all our customers. As well as the national roll-out of Pathways to Work we are introducing the Flexible New Deal from April 2009 and extending New Deal Plus for Lone Parents pilots until 2011.

Lone Parents: Work Assistance

20. Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to help lone parents into work. [186566]

Mr. Timms: In our Command Paper ‘Ready for work: full employment in our generation’, published in December 2007, we announced increased obligations for lone parents. Lone parents who are claiming income support solely based on being a lone parent will have to move onto a more appropriate benefit when their youngest child is:

To help more lone parents into work, in April, we are making the in-work credit available nationally. This gives eligible lone parents an extra £40 a week (£60 a week in London) for up to a year when they start work of 16 hours or more a week. In addition, later this year we will pilot a payment which will give an assurance to lone parents, and other eligible groups who have been claiming certain benefits for 26 weeks or more, that
18 Feb 2008 : Column 223W
their income from work, including in-work benefits, will be a least £25 per week more than they received from out of work benefits.

Women Pensioners

21. Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to increase the income of women pensioners. [186567]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: As a result of pensions reform the proportion of women reaching state pension age entitled to a full basic state pension will rise from around 35 per cent. now to around three quarters in 2010 and over 90 per cent. in 2025.

Proposals in the current Pensions Bill should result in an estimated three and a half to four million women being enrolled into a workplace pension, many for the first time. The combination of state and private pensions reforms will help ensure more women build up their own pension provision.

NEETs

Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has to reduce the number of young people not in training, employment or education. [186562]

Mr. Timms: The proportion of young people not in training, education or employment has fallen over the past decade. To make further progress, we will give early new deal access to 18-year-olds who claim jobseeker’s allowance having already spent a period not working or studying.

Attendance Allowance: Glasgow East

Mr. Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Glasgow East constituency are in receipt of the (a) higher rate and (b) lower rate of attendance allowance. [184710]

Mrs. McGuire: The latest information is in the following table.

People in Glasgow East parliamentary constituency who are in receipt of attendance allowance by award type, May 2007
Higher rate Lower rate

Glasgow East

1,960

1,390

Notes:
1. Case load figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example, if they are in hospital.
Source:
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Barnardo's

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has received a copy of the report “Like any other child?” issued by Barnardo’s charity; and if he will make a statement. [183747]


18 Feb 2008 : Column 224W

Mrs. McGuire: The Secretary of State has receive a copy of the Barnado’s “Like any other child?” report.

The Government refute the allegation that there is a policy of enforced destitution of asylum seekers and their families. Those who cannot support themselves while their application is considered are eligible for support from the Border and Immigration Agency. Once their claim has been finally determined, those who have been successful are assisted to integrate into the local community. Those whose claims have failed are expected to return home.

If they are temporarily unable to travel (for instance they need to obtain travel documents) they can be supported. In addition, where there are children under the age of 18 in a family whose claim was unsuccessful, they continue to be supported in the same way and to the same extent as they were before their claim was determined, until they leave the UK.

Our policy ensures that there are support safeguards in place for families and the vulnerable and those who are unable to return home.

Carbon Monoxide

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will take steps to promote the use of carbon monoxide detectors with audible alarms in all homes. [182669]

Mrs. McGuire: I refer the hon. Member to the ministerial statement, 26 June 2007, Official Report, column 27WS, about the Ministerial Group on Gas Safety. The group is supporting cross-Government activity to raise awareness of CO poisoning from space and heating appliances burning fossil fuels and how it can be avoided. Appliances need to be properly installed and maintained in a safe condition by competent persons. An annual safety check is also recommended. CO alarms are advocated as a useful back-up precaution but should not be regarded as a substitute for these measures.

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what services have been provided by (a) Veredus and (b) other recruitment consultants to his Department in the last five years; and what the cost was of such services. [181257]

Mrs. McGuire: The information requested is available from April 2005 only and is provided in the following table.

DWP expenditure from 2005-06 to November 2007 with Veredus and other recruitment consultancy companies
£ million
2005-06 2006-07 2007 (to Nov 2007)

Veredus

0.028

0.670

0.310

Other recruitment consultants

1.008

0.368

0.050

Total

1.036

1.038

0.360


Veredus has provided a range of recruitment services to DWP, primarily in relation to high level search and selection of senior civil service posts. These services
18 Feb 2008 : Column 225W
have been sourced via the Cabinet Office Framework Agreement. The services provided by other recruitment consultancy companies have covered the full range of end to end recruitment activities including advertising campaigns, sifting and selection across the full range of civil service posts. These services were sourced via the Cabinet Office Framework Agreement and the DWP CIPHER Framework Agreement.

Child Support Agency: ICT

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the timetable is for migrating all Child Support Agency cases onto the new system; and if he will make a statement. [179663]

Mr. Plaskitt: The problems encountered by the Agency following the launch of the reforms in 2003 are well documented and were widely publicised at the time. As a result of these problems the decision to bulk migrate and convert the caseload was deferred, although from the launch of the reforms in March 2003 new rules applications to child support have continued to trigger the reactive migration of old rules cases from CSCS and following migration relevant cases have been reactively converted from old to new rules.

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill, currently under consideration by Parliament, sets out proposals for a new system of child maintenance to be in place by 2010. By the end of 2008, parents will have an option to agree arrangements between themselves and move into voluntary maintenance arrangements, no-one will be compelled to stay in either scheme. For those who choose to remain with the Commission and
18 Feb 2008 : Column 226W
the new system of child maintenance we expect the case transfer process to start in 2010 and take around three years. During this period, parents will continue to have the opportunity to move to their own arrangements or, for those parents who are satisfied with their existing arrangements to continue with them, supported by a new simple cash transfer service based on the success of the current Maintenance Direct option.


Next Section Index Home Page