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7 Mar 2008 : Column 2866W—continued


Pay ranges for senior civil service pay bands in DWP from 1 April 2007
£
Senior civil service pay band Minimum Progression target rate (PTR) Recruitment and performance ceiling (RPC)

1

56,100

78,540

116,000

1 (London)

59,600

82,040

116,000

2

81,600

160,000

3

99,960

205,000

Permanent Secretary

139,740

273,250


Departmental Plants

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent on pot plants in each of the last five years. [192063]

Mrs. McGuire: DWP occupies its properties under the terms of the PRIME PFI contract and pays an inclusive facilities unit price for the accommodation. The contract includes the provision of interior plants. The cost of those plants is not separately identifiable.

Departmental Public Relations

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many external contracts his Department held with public relations companies in each of the last 10 years; and what the total cost of those contracts was. [183167]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions was formed on 8 June 2001 from parts of the former Department of Social Security, the former Department for Education and Employment and the Employment Service. Information on costs prior to 2001 is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. In addition numbers of contracts prior to 2005-06 were not collated centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Department runs a number of promotional campaigns to increase awareness of people’s rights and responsibilities or changes to legislation. PR agencies are taken on where messages are most effectively promoted by supplementing ‘paid-for’ advertising (press/TV/radio) with public relations activity.


7 Mar 2008 : Column 2867W

The following table details spend on PR campaigns and numbers of contracts and totals:

April-March Numbers of contracts Cost (thousand)

2001-02

59

2002-03

698

2003-04

1,412

2004-05

1,435

2005-06

5

1,206

2006-07

7

1,061

Total

12

5,871


Employment Agencies

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department paid to recruitment agencies in relation to departmental appointments in each year since 1997. [184910]

Mrs. McGuire: I refer the hon. member to the reply given on 18 February 2008, Official Report, columns 224-25W.

Honours

Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many members of the senior Civil Service in his Department have received an honour. [187116]

Mrs. McGuire: There are 20 current members of the senior civil service in DWP who have received an honour.

Incapacity Benefit: Medical Examinations

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the annual cost of medical examinations for those on incapacity benefit is expected to be under his proposed system. [189094]

Mrs. McGuire: The medical assessment process for employment and support allowance (ESA) will be delivered under contract by Atos Healthcare. The net additional cost to deliver this part of ESA is estimated to be in the region of £200 million for the period up to August 2015. This covers the costs of the new medical assessments including the new work focused health-related assessment, gathering information from customers and health care professionals, investments in information technology and Estates infrastructure, overheads and set-up costs.

Incapacity Benefit: Part-Time Employment

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government plans to take to stop incapacity benefits claimants from being discouraged to seek part-time work. [189640]

Mrs. McGuire: Incapacity benefits claimants are actively encouraged to do part-time work through the permitted work rules.

Any claimant is able to do some work providing their earnings do not exceed £20 a week.


7 Mar 2008 : Column 2868W

People who are exempt from the personal capability assessment, or those who work as part of a hospital treatment programme, or those who work with supervision by a public or local authority or a voluntary organisation which finds or provides work for people with disabilities, can do permitted work for an unlimited period if their earnings do not exceed £88.50 a week.

People who may be able to return to full-time work are encouraged to attempt work by a further rule which allows people to work for up to 52 weeks providing earnings do not exceed £88.50 and the work lasts less than 16 hours weekly.

Jobcentre Plus provides a number of specialist programmes and services which support incapacity benefits claimants to move into paid work. These include Pathways to Work, New Deal for Disabled People, Access to Work, Work Preparation, Residential Training, Workstep (a programme of supported employment) and the Job Introduction Scheme. The Return to Work Credit offers eligible customers, in Pathways to Work areas, who find work of at least 16 hours a week, a weekly payment of £40 for up to 52 weeks if their gross annual earnings are below £15,000. Disability employment advisers and incapacity benefit personal advisers provide advice and support for people looking for work.

Jobcentres: Telephone Services

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the efficacy of the telephone service in jobcentres; and if he will make a statement. [188525]

Mr. Timms: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide my hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 7 March 2008:


7 Mar 2008 : Column 2869W

Low Incomes

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how his Department defines material deprivation; and whether this definition has changed since 1997. [185940]

Mr. Timms: Our material deprivation measure is designed to be a wider measure of families' living standards.

We define it as the number of children living in households suffering a combination of relative low income (70 per cent. of contemporary median) and material deprivation.

The available material deprivation figures and details of the methodology can be found in 'PSA Delivery Agreement 9: Halve the number of children in poverty by 2010-11, on the way to eradicating child poverty by 2020', available on the HM Treasury website. The measure was first set out in detail in CSR 2007 and has not changed.

New Deal for Lone Parents

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will bring forward proposals under the New Deal for Lone Parents beyond its current level two in order to extend access to personal development opportunities. [189795]

Mr. Timms: New deal for lone parent funding for education and training is usually used for courses up to NVQ/SNVQ Level two or equivalent. However, where it is clear that a lone parent can achieve an NVQ/SNVQ Level three in 52 weeks, and the training can be completed within the 52 week period of entitlement (for example where the lone parent has the appropriate qualification levels in the subject), funding to NVQ/SNVQ Level three could be considered. In all cases consideration must be given to whether the training will lead to sustainable employment.

Pensions Service: Telephone Services

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions why the arrangement for free calls to the 0800 Pension Service number from mobile telephones was ended. [187712]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: It has always been the case that customers making a call to a 0800 or 0845 Pension Service number from a mobile phone, non BT phone network or from abroad, will be charged at the specific operators' call rate.

This is a part of a broader policy, implemented by Ofcom who are the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.


7 Mar 2008 : Column 2870W

Poverty

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what targets have been set for poverty reduction by 2010; and what progress has been made towards them. [185945]

Mr. Timms: We have set a target to halve the number of children in relative poverty by 2010-11 from a starting point of 3.4 million in 1999-99. In addition we have a further target to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

Significant progress has been made so far, with 600,000 fewer children living in relative poverty in 2005-06 compared with 1998-99.

Social Security Benefits: Disabled

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 13 December 2007, Official Report, column 68WS, on disability benefits (European Court of Justice) what progress has been made in discussions with the European Commission to clarify the extent of the Government's responsibilities following the judgment in the European Court of Justice of 18 October 2007. [186980]

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the payment of disability living allowance to UK citizens resident in other EU countries; and if he will make a statement. [187023]

Mrs. McGuire: We are continuing our discussions with the European Commission and expect to publish eligibility criteria for payment of the disability benefits within the European Economic Area and Switzerland on the Department's website, www.dwp.gov.uk, and the Directgov website, www.direct.gov.uk, by 5 April 2008.

A further statement will be made to Parliament in due course.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Government has spent on the Shop Benefit Fraudsters advertisements. [189833]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions runs public information campaigns about benefit fraud. These campaigns are not simply about encouraging people to ‘shop benefit fraudsters’, the campaigns are designed to positively reinforce honest behaviour, to create a climate of intolerance to benefit fraud and to undermine its social acceptability. The advertising expenditure for these campaigns is in the following table.


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Advertising spend (£000)

2001-02

8,039

2002-03

35

2003-04

8,383

2004-05

6,017

2005-06

7,042

2006-07

5,418

Notes:
1. Figures are for the advertising spend on the Targeting Fraud (2001 to 2002), Targeting Benefit Fraud (2003 to 2006) and Targeting Benefit Thieves (2006 to 2007) campaigns.
2. All figures are exclusive of VAT.
3. The figures in these tables refer to media spend only, excluding production and other costs.
4. All figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand.

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