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3 Mar 2008 : Column 2057W—continued

Nimrod Aircraft: Procurement

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has made any changes to the number of Nimrod MRA4 aircraft to be ordered. [189276]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: No.

Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which countries provided the requirement for NATO’s Operational Reserve Force in each year since 2001; and which countries will provide the requirement until 2010. [190694]

Des Browne: During this period, there was an Operational Reserve Force for ISAF from August to December 2006 which was provided by Romania.

For the Balkans, the reserve was called the Over the Horizon Force until mid-2002 with the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the US all contributing battalions. Since mid-2002, the Operational Reserve Force has comprised three battalions provided by the UK, Germany and Italy.

As commitments to the Operational Reserve Force are made on an annual basis, there is no programmed rota for 2009-10.

Reserve Forces: Deployment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservist personnel were deployed overseas at the most recently available date, broken down by (a) location and (b) service. [190650]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As at 31 January 2008, the number of volunteer reservists deployed on operations was:

Royal Navy Reserve Royal Marines Reserve Territorial Army Royal Auxiliary Air Force

TELIC (Iraq)





HERRICK (Afghanistan)





TOSCA (Cyprus)





OCULUS (Balkans)





Global Counter Terrorism










There were also 616 other reservists undergoing pre-deployment training, receiving medical treatment,
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or on post operational leave, and in addition 41 sponsored reserves involved in operations but who are not necessarily permanently based in an operational theatre.

Spearhead Land Element

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which units forms the Spearhead Land Element (SLE); whether it is fully equipped; whether the SLE is deployed; and when the future SLE will take over. [190671]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Second Battalion The Royal Gurkha Regiment forms the Spearhead Land Element (SLE), which is not currently deployed. The SLE is currently fully equipped in accordance with the joint rapid reaction force directive and operational mounting instructions. The next SLE will be provided by the Second Battalion The Rifles, who will assume this role from 30 March 2008.

Type 45 Destroyers

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has made any changes to the planned in-service dates of Type 45 Destroyers. [189278]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: No.

Work and Pensions

Carers’ Allowances

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the earnings limit for carer’s allowance was last increased. [189030]

Mrs. McGuire: The earnings limit for carer’s allowance was last increased in October 2007. Recipients of carer’s allowance can now earn up to £95 a week after deduction of allowable expenses.

Child Support: Administration

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) on what basis the decision not to initially migrate existing cases onto the new child support system was made; and if he will make a statement; [188520]

(2) when all child support cases will have been transferred to the new child support system. [188759]

Mr. Plaskitt: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 226W, to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown).

Delivery Notices

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the letter of 28 January 2008 from the Minister of State for Pensions to the hon. Member for Northavon, if he will place in the Library a copy of the departmental leaflets issued after 2001
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which stated that people would be advised about delivery notices by letter. [184456]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 4 February 2008]: The relevant extracts from documents NP46 and N17A have been placed in the Library.

Employment: Prisoners Release

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what Government assistance is provided for prisoners to secure work on release from prison; and what changes in types of support have been made since 1992. [191210]

Mr. Plaskitt: Jobcentre plus offers extensive help to those leaving prison. The following have all been introduced since 1992.

Employment and Benefit Surgeries—In prison-based Employment and Benefit Surgeries, Jobcentre Plus advisers work in co-operation with the Prison Service and other agency staff to address the key employment and benefit needs of prison inmates during both the entry and pre-release stages of their period in custody.

New Deal—Offenders are entitled to early entry, from day one of their claim, to the new deals, including the New Deal for Young People, which applies to 18 to 24-year-olds, thereby giving them access to help with finding a job and dealing with their barriers to employment.

Freshstart—Freshstart involves pre-arranging a new jobseeker interview to claim benefit (jobseeker’s allowance) at the prisoner's home Jobcentre Plus office, on release. As well as speeding up the process for receiving benefit, the individual is exposed at the earliest opportunity to jobs and the prospect of engaging with mainstream provision, to which, in most cases, they will have early entry status. Last year 35,000 interviews were booked

Rapid Reclaim Process—Jobcentre Plus also operate a “Rapid Reclaim Process” for jobseeker’s allowance, income support and incapacity benefit (employment support allowance also when introduced). This service is available if a short-term prisoner reclaims within 13 weeks of their last claim and circumstances have not changed. There are simpler and shorter forms and the processing of the benefit is easier.

Progress2work and progress2workLinkUP—Special programmes aimed at helping clients with drug misuse, the homeless, ex-offenders, and alcohol misusers deal with the particular barriers to work that they face. Both programmes are run by specialist providers who have established expertise in dealing with the issues faced by these client groups. Progress2work is a national programme; progress2workLinkUP is in almost half of Jobcentre Plus districts.

Early Custody Licence—DWP shared services administer grants on behalf of the Ministry of Justice for those released on early custody licence.

Exit to Work—Exit to Work is an action-research project trailing a new way of engaging employers and moving ex-offenders into work. The project is being managed by Working Ventures UK in collaboration with DWP, Jobcentre Plus, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Ministry of
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Justice. Exit to Work takes a two-pronged approach to tackling employment and skills-related issues for offenders:

managing an information and vacancy sharing website, which allows CVs of ex-offenders to be uploaded, evaluated, and accessed on behalf of potential employers.

Jobcentre Plus engages with young offenders both in custody and in the community. Dependant upon the customer’s age, a range of support becomes available.

Young offenders in custody have access to employment and benefit surgery advisers and can get employment and training advice as well as Freshstart appointments upon release to claim jobseeker’s allowance.

At age 18 offenders released from custody and community sentenced offenders have early entry to New Deal and access to specialist help via progress2work and Progress2work Link Up. Advisers regularly review activity and job search efforts and on a longer term basis, customers have to undertake mandatory activities such as New Deal for Young People. New Deal for young People has now been in operation for over 10 years and has helped thousands of young offenders to enter work and training.

Income Support: Lone Parents

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his Department’s publication, Ready for Work, what forecast he has made of the likely number of lone parents claiming income support in each quarter to 2011, broken down by (a) region, (b) ethnicity and (c) family size; and what assessment he has made of the effect on these numbers on changes in his Department’s spending on (i) benefits and (ii) benefit administration. [176943]

Mr. Timms: The full information requested is not available. The Impact Assessment published alongside the publication “Ready for Work” presented our current estimates of the impact of the proposals on benefit case loads and costs.

Pensioners: Aberavon

Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners there were in Aberavon constituency in the most recent period for which figures are available. [190218]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: As at May 2007, there were 13,540 recipients of state pension in the Aberavon parliamentary constituency.

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Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will estimate the number of people who were not sent a letter from his Department in 2004-05 in connection with the deficiency notices exercise who would have been sent such a letter but for the fact that the then Inland Revenue had ceased sending them deficiency notices prior to 1996-97; and if he will make a statement; [167266]

(2) pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2008, Official Report, column 724W, on pensions, how the target group of 632,000 was defined; and which categories of pensioners in the target group were not sent letters. [181991]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer s 22 November 2007 and 25 January 2008]: In total, we estimate that around one million people(1) who reached state pension age between 6 April 1998 and 23 October 2004:

Of these, 632,000 who were resident in the UK satisfied the conditions for receiving a deficiency notice. In addition, a further 40,000 pensioners who were resident overseas satisfied the conditions. This group, including those overseas, was defined as the target group.

However, only those people in the target group who could improve their ongoing pension entitlement were contacted and thus excluded:

Of the remaining approximately 350,000(2), it is not possible to readily identify those who could improve their ongoing pension entitlement.

Pursuant to my written answers of 1 October 2007, Official Report, column 2376W, and 10 January 2008, Official Report, column 724W, the figure of 470,000 referred to in these answers related to the total number of pensioners contacted regarding deficiencies in their
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contribution records and included around 55,000 who had already paid contributions. The figure of 414,427 pensioners automatically contacted by the Pension Service during the period September 2004 to September 2005 quoted at page 197 of the Department’s Resource Accounts for 2006-07 relates to the number of pensioners who were informed of deficiencies in their contribution records in that period. No further deficiency notice letters were automatically issued by the Pension Service after the end of September 2005.

Pursuant to my written answer of 1 October 2007, Official Report, column 2376W, the response rate of 62 per cent. quoted was incorrect. It was calculated by reference to a total figure of 470,000 letters issued and the 290,000 customers contacts referred to in the answer. However, it has subsequently become apparent that the figure of 290,000 comprises contacts from individuals who had received an automatic deficiency notice and those who had not. It is not possible to disaggregate the figure of 290,000 to separately identify contacts by people who had received an automatic deficiency notice. Similarly, it is not possible to disaggregate the figure of 69,249 individuals who have made additional contributions. Therefore the figure of 24 per cent. relating to the proportion of respondents who made additional contributions is also incorrect.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the number of people who will receive pension forecasts in 2008. [174801]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Pension Service issues an individual pension forecast when a customer request is made via the e-service channel, over the phone or on completion of form BR19.

Based on the number of requests received in 2007, we anticipate that around 300,000 individuals will receive an individual pension forecast in 2008.

Due to IT changes which need to be made as a result of the Pensions Act 2007, the Pension Service is temporarily unable to provide an individual pension forecast to customers who reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2010.

To help them plan for retirement, the Pension Service is able to offer these customers personalised information on potential state pension entitlement, based on the pension qualifying years they have from their national insurance record. Around 125,000 customers have benefited from this service. The Pension Service expects full forecasting services will be available in spring 2008.

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