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Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact on child poverty of the requirement placed on lone parents to meet child care and travel costs in full under the jobseekers allowance regime to be introduced for lone parents whose youngest child is 12 years of age. 
Mr. Timms: There has been no specific assessment of the requirement placed on lone parents to meet child care and travel costs in full under the jobseekers allowance regime. A full impact assessment of the changes, including impacts on child poverty, announced in Ready for Work was published in Ready for work: full employment in our generationimpact assessment in December 2007 which is in the Library.
However, lone parents who have genuine reasons, or good cause, for not complying with their obligations to look for, or take up, work will not be penalised. Good cause could include a variety of reasons depending on the circumstances of the individual. For example, problems with child care, illness of themselves or their children or their child care support, transport difficulties, unforeseen family circumstances, domestic violence or relationship breakdown could all be considered as a good cause. However, this will not be a general opt-out for those who would prefer to be on benefits.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the mode length of time in respect of each (a) benefit delivery centre and (b) other processing site, for the processing of Social Fund community care grant applications to the (i) initial decision, (ii) internal review, (iii) application and (iv) final decision stage was in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 24 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 question about what the mode length of time was for each benefit delivery centre and processing site for the processing of Social Fund Community Care Grant applications to the initial decision, internal review, application and final decision stage in the most recent period for which figures are available. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Information is available only for initial decisions.
The most common clearance times (mode) for Community Care Grant applications in November 2007 are given in the table.
|Social Fund benefit delivery centre by region||Most common (modal) length of time for clearing Community Care Grant applications in November 2007 (working days)|
|(1) The two figures given are the most common clearance times (the same number of Community Care Grant applications were cleared in each number of working days).|
1. Insufficient data are available for Essex for Community Care Grants. This is because of a limitation of the Management Information System.
2. Numbers are based on applications cleared in November 2007, not on applications received during that month.
BDC = Benefit Delivery Centre
SF = Social Fund
Y and H = Yorkshire and Humberside
DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System
Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Freedom of Information requests his Department has received in each year since 2005; and how many of those requests have been refused. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Government have published two annual reports that contain statistical information about how many requests have been received by monitored bodies (including central Government Departments) and how many have been refused.
Data are currently being collated across monitored bodies in order to produce the 2007 Annual report and Q4 Monitoring report, however, Q1-Q3 Monitoring reports of 2007 can be found at the following address:
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons payment of the £60 per week in-work credit for lone parents was deemed to be incompatible with the employment retention and advancement pilot operating in north east London. 
Mrs. McGuire: The north east London district was one of the six Jobcentre Plus districts that participated in the Employment Retention and Advancement Demonstration project (ERA), which operated between October 2003 and November 2007.
ERA was evaluated using a random assignment research method and customers in the six districts were allocated on a voluntary basis to either a group that received the ERA service, or to a control group that did not. The impact of the programme was determined by comparing the subsequent behaviour and outcomes of both groups. It was not possible to offer the in-work credit to customers in the districts participating in ERA until the programme was complete without invalidating the evaluation.
Retention payments were a key component of the support offered to ERA customers, together with other financial and non-financial support. If customers had been eligible to receive the in-work credit payment in addition to ERA, it would not have been possible to identify which effects resulted from receiving ERA, and which resulted from receiving the IWC. This form of evaluation is dependent on the two groups being identical in every aspect other than receiving the programme being tested, so it was not possible to offer the IWC to the control group alone.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Departments policy is on the use of fair trade goods (a) in staff catering facilities and (b) at official departmental functions and meetings; and if he will make a statement. 
The Departments Facilities Management partner, Land Securities Trillium (LST) provides in house catering services where premises allow. Ethical procurement practices are a key factor in the contract.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason the Health and Safety Executive records the names of those killed by (a) carbon monoxide and (b) other gas poisoning. 
Mrs. McGuire: This information arises from data on gas related carbon monoxide poisoning incidents collected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, which contribute to HSE's published annual statistics. The use of names prevents double counting where information on the same incident is inadvertently provided from two sources.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 8 January 2008, Official Report, column 435W, on industrial health and safety: influenza, what obligations there would be on employers under health and safety legislation in the event of an influenza pandemic. 
Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact on Jobcentre Plus staff resources of the introduction of (a) employment and support allowance and (b) the jobseekers allowance regime for lone parents whose youngest child is 12 years of age. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what assessment he has made of the impact on Jobcentre Plus staff resources of the introduction of (a) Employment and Support Allowance and (b) the Jobseeker's Allowance regime for lone parents whose youngest child is 12 years of age. This is
something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The resource requirements for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have been assessed in order to inform post filling and learning and development plans. Based on this assessment of the net effect of replacing existing processes with ESA processes, there will be no need for an increase in staff resource. Following implementation the impact on resource will be evaluated further.
The introduction of the Jobseeker's Allowance regime for lone parents whose youngest child is 12 will involve some very minor changes in the total resource required to deal with this group. These will be taken into account, alongside other business changes, in the overall resource planning for 2008/09.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what discussions were held with Somerset county council before the announcement of the closure of Chard Jobcentre; if he will publish all the responses to the consultation on the future of Chard Jobcentre; and if he will make a statement; 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking what discussions were held, and what meetings his officials have had, with Somerset county council before the announcement of the closure of Chard Jobcentre Plus, and if he will publish all responses to the consultation on the future of Chard Jobcentre Plus. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
There have been no formal meetings on this issue with the county council prior to the closure announcement.
The District Manager for Dorset and Somerset wrote to Somerset county council on 17 May 2007 regarding the proposed changes to the Jobcentre Plus network in Dorset and Somerset. The letter invited comments on the proposal.
The District Manager received no direct response from the county council. However, on 28 June 2007 the council wrote to the Personal Adviser Manager, Yeovil Jobcentre Plus, expressing their opposition to the proposed closure of both Burnham-on-Sea and Chard Jobcentre Plus offices.
In their letter the county council did not request a meeting for discussions and did not include any proposals. Their letter was included in the submission to the Minister.
During the consultation period, the Somerset Jobcentre Plus Partnership Manager, attended a number of meetings also attended by Somerset county council, where the issue was raised on an ad hoc basis. No formal discussions have taken place and the Partnership Manager encouraged comments to be made formally, so they were contained in the submission to the Minister.
During a local area agreement meeting on 15 January 2008, Somerset county council stated if the outcome of the review was to close Chard Jobcentre Plus Office they would give consideration to working with Jobcentre Plus to promote flexible service delivery. Nothing formal has been received from Somerset county council.
The District Manager wrote again on 17 January 2008 informing the county council of the decision to close the Chard office and deliver our services from our larger Taunton site. This included an invitation to the county council to provide any other solutions following the closure of the Chard office.
We are currently working with partner organisations to establish flexible service delivery in the form of a job point and customer access phone in Chard town, as well as an appointment led work focused advisory service on a demand led basis. We will continue to promote the use of e-channels to access Jobcentre Plus services. The Jobcentre Plus Partnership Manager is planning to meet with the county council shortly.
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