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|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)|
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.
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. 
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 peoples 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.
|April-March||Numbers of contracts||Cost (thousand)|
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.
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. 
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.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what assessment he has made of the efficacy of the telephony service in Jobcentres. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The modernisation of our telephone service means it is easier for customers to call and speak to the right person or department without having to be transferred, and to receive a more efficient and professional service. Our service is now more flexible as it enables customers to access our services by telephone from their home over longer hours than was previously possible, and avoids them having to visit their local office to make a claim, enquire about benefits and/or seek access for job search support.
We deal with over 69,000 calls every weekday to our contact centres. We are currently answering 95.8% of calls to our new claims service. Similarly for customers seeking to access our job broking services we are achieving 94.4% of calls answered.
Following the introduction of the telephone service for Social Fund Crisis Loans we have experienced an increase of between 41-114% in call volumes (depending on the site) month on month compared to two years ago for applications to the Social Fund Crisis Loans service and as a result some offices have struggled to cope. To improve this service we are currently deploying an additional 700 staff based in our contact centres. This has enabled us to answer over 90% of calls and take nearly 40,000 applications per week.
Jobcentre Plus is continually looking for ways of improving its services and we are discussing with our telephone service providers what changes could be made to improve queue management. We are making a significant investment in the most up to date telephony infrastructure to upgrade both telephony and the available management information, to enable the effective handling of peaks and troughs of the calls we receive. The new management information system will also provide us with improved data to help monitor and develop our telephony service.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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. 
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.
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.
|Advertising spend (£000)|
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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