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6 Mar 2008 : Column 2810W—continued

Industrial Training: Older Workers

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) grants and (b) training schemes are available through his Department for people (i) over 55 years old and (ii) in retirement to learn new job skills. [190011]

Mr. Plaskitt: People who are claiming a benefit or receiving state pension may take up training and retain their benefit, although people on jobseeker’s allowance may only take up training part-time. Currently people who are on incapacity benefit for less than 28 weeks, and who are in receipt of housing benefit and council tax benefit, are not entitled to take full-time training to learn new job skills without losing eligibility for that benefit. However, we are revising this situation following the announcement made in “Opportunity, Employment and Progression: making skills work” published jointly with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills in November 2007. This announcement stated our intention to remove the 16 hour study rule in housing benefit completely for short-term recipients of incapacity benefit; so that they, like long term incapacity benefit claimants, will always be able to take up the training they need to enable them to return to work.

All people below state pension age and claiming relevant benefits can access Department for Work and Pensions training schemes depending on whether they meet other eligibility criteria: for example, someone could be referred to an Employability Skills training programme if they had been assessed as having low literacy, language and numeracy skills and wanted to combine improving these with employability skills.

New deal 50 plus is the only Jobcentre Plus programme directly focused on supporting people aged 50 and over into employment. The programme offers personal adviser support and access to a training grant, worth up to £1500.

The training grant is currently available when an individual aged 50 and over and claiming a qualifying benefit takes up employment after attending a new deal 50 plus interview after six months of benefit dependency. It offers in-work training support to help individuals update existing skills or gain new skills related to their work for up to two years after starting work. The grant can be used for training provided by an employer or through an external training provider or other educational establishment.

Up to £1,200 of the grant can be used for training relevant to the job and a further £300 can be used to pay for life-long learning or skills training that is not job related.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people on jobseeker’s allowance (a) were sanctioned and (b) had their claim terminated because they went abroad in each of the last 10 years. [185885]

Mr. Plaskitt: When jobseekers go abroad, they no longer fulfil the entitlement conditions required for jobseeker’s allowance and the jobseeker’s entitlement ends.


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The number of people on jobseeker’s allowance that have had their claim terminated because they went abroad in each of the last 10 years is in the table.

Jobseeker s allowance claimants who have flowed-off benefit and gone abroad, Great Britain, December 1998 to December 2007
As at December each year Claimants who have gone abroad

1998

6,480

1999

6,405

2000

6,620

2001

6,225

2002

5,600

2003

5,285

2004

4,760

2005

4,565

2006

6,030

2007

5,585

Note:
Number of claimants rounded to the nearest five.
Source:
Count of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus computer systems.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what guidance Jobcentre Plus gives to claimants of jobseekers allowance wishing to go on holiday; [185889]

(2) what guidance Jobcentre Plus gives to its staff on the provision for jobseeker’s allowance claimants to go on holiday. [185890]

Mr. Plaskitt: Jobcentre Plus training and guidance to staff supports and reinforces the advice given to jobseekers. The ES40 leaflet “Jobseeker’s Allowance and getting back to work”, given to all jobseekers at their new jobseeker interview, sets out the requirement that the jobseeker must tell Jobcentre Plus if they change their address or go away from home, even if it is for a day. This message is further reinforced in the forms that jobseekers are required to complete to notify such absences.

Jobcentre Plus provides advice and guidance to its staff to equip them to explain to jobseekers the impact going away from home may have on entitlement.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed jobseeker’s allowance in (a) the UK, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in each year since 1997. [187455]

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


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Number of jobseeker s allowance claimants
As at January each year UK North East Tees Valley Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

1997

1,907,755

107,320

31,875

3,960

1998

1,479,265

93,660

28,985

3,520

1999

1,386,410

88,595

26,735

3,175

2000

1,236,380

81,765

25,615

3,050

2001

1,077,770

72,230

22,145

2,785

2002

1,021,465

66,590

20,610

2,575

2003

998,035

60,275

18,375

2,280

2004

952,430

54,720

17,015

2,085

2005

872,070

48,175

14,340

1,705

2006

955,335

51,085

15,315

1,790

2007

965,095

54,700

16,705

1,985

2008

830,540

50,360

15,420

1,860

Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest five.
2. Tees Valley consists of the local authorities of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton.
Source:
Count of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus computer systems (including clerically held cases).

Jobseeker’s Allowance: Eligibility

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people who leave employment for the purposes of obtaining jobseeker’s allowance are not eligible for such allowance. [189102]

Mr. Plaskitt: The reason that a person’s job came to an end is ascertained from evidence provided by the person themselves and from their employer. When we have evidence that someone may have left employment voluntarily or was dismissed for misconduct we can impose a benefit sanction and prevent jobseeker’s allowance being paid for up to 26 weeks. A sanction means that no jobseeker’s allowance is payable for that period.

All sanction decisions are made by a decision maker on a case by case basis, taking all the available evidence into account. A jobseeker has the right of appeal against a sanction decision.

Jobseeker’s Allowance: Learning Disability

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that young adults with learning difficulties in receipt of jobseekers allowance, who cannot read or understand forms or use telephones, are able to receive personal help from his Department. [190592]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 29 February 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.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 6 March 2008:


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Jobseeker’s Allowance: Mortgages

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been paid to homeowners in receipt of jobseekers allowance for the purpose of making mortgage repayments in the latest period for which figures are available. [189101]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available in the format requested.

As at May 2007, the most recent available information, there were 8,700 jobseeker’s allowance claimants in receipt of help with mortgage interest. The average weekly amount was £46.81.

Local Housing Allowance

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what funding has been made available to the Pathfinder authorities for the pilots of the local housing allowance. [190541]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 29 February 2008]: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave on 11 December 2007, Official Report, column 464W, to the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Danny Alexander).

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance his Department plans to issue to local authorities on the up-take of bank accounts during the roll-out of local housing allowances; and whether such guidance will be issued by April 2008. [190777]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 29 February 2008]: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has already provided a guidance manual and other support and advice to help local authorities with the introduction of the local housing allowance in April 2008. This support has included the provision of advice to local authorities on how best they can support their customers in opening bank accounts.


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DWP is leading a campaign to help financially excluded people access free money advice. The “Now Let’s Talk Money” campaign will direct them to suitable bank accounts, local trusted sources of affordable credit and confidential advice.

We are also encouraging local authorities to ensure that payment facilities are available to the small number of customers who cannot open a bank account.

Lone Parents: Advisory Services

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance his Department issues to personal advisers helping lone parents. [190311]

Mr. Timms: The lone parent personal adviser role is one of a number of specialist adviser roles within Jobcentre Plus. Advisers are required to complete generic adviser training which includes e-learning, mentoring and workbooks. They also complete specialist modules of learning specific to the customer group they will be working with, for example lone parents. To support this training, departmental guidance is available on the departmental intranet site which covers all aspects of business process, regulations, procedures and best practice.


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