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Social Security Benefits: Employment

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what barriers to work for benefit claimants his Department has identified; and how his Department defines barriers to work. [190308]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Department does not have an official definition of a barrier to work. In operational terms, barriers are often considered to be those factors which research shows are highly correlated with long durations on benefit.

Those with the biggest barriers to work include:

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Other groups facing significant barriers include:

Former members of HM forces also often face considerable barriers to work. In many cases individuals will have more than one of these barriers influencing their ability to gain employment.

In addition, a key barrier to work is that many benefit claimants are not actually looking for work. An important part of the Government’s Welfare Reform policy is to incentivise and encourage claimants to actively return to the labour market.

The December 2007 report “Ready for work, full employment in our generation” and the January 2008 report “Ready to work, skilled for work: unlocking Britain’s talent” set out our plans to address many of these barriers. Having previously focused on specific groups with lower employment rates, and having been largely successful in raising them, the Government are now increasingly moving to an individualised, flexible approach to ensure as many people as possible have the support they need to get into, and stay, in work.

Social Security Benefits: Essex

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many families received state benefits in excess of £15,000 in (a) Romford, (b) Essex and (c) Greater London in 2007. [181688]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions into what categories his Department classifies types of benefit fraud. [185919]

Mr. Plaskitt: The categories of benefit fraud used by DWP are listed in ‘Fraud and Error in the Benefits System October 2005 to September 2006’. Copies are available in the Library.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the total amount spent by his Department was on fraud prevention in each year for which figures are available; [189300]

(2) what his Department's budget for fraud prevention is in each financial year in the 2007 spending review period. [189301]

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

The overall aim of the Department's anti-fraud strategy is to have a benefit system, which is secure from first claim to final payment. The implementation of this strategy means that an anti-fraud focus is integral to the work of all staff in the Department, as is dealing with
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the wider agenda of error and incorrectness in benefit payments. It is therefore not possible to account for the cost of anti-fraud work separately.

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much funding his Department allocated to campaigns to counter benefit fraud in each year for which figures are available. [192809]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Department runs a number of promotional campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of rights and responsibilities. The campaigns run by the Department to counter benefit fraud are designed to positively reinforce honest behaviour, to create a climate of intolerance to benefit fraud and to undermine its social acceptability. The following table details spend on these campaigns in each of the last six complete financial years:

Campaign s pend (£000)













1.Figures given are for actual 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, design, PR, production, research and any other associated costs.

Social Security Benefits: Unemployed

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average amount paid in benefits to a workless household in the UK in the last period for which figures are available. [181637]

Mr. Plaskitt: The average (mean) weekly amount paid in benefits to a workless household, with at least one adult of working age, in the UK for 2005-06 was £167. The average (mean) weekly gross income for a working household was £803.

Social Security: Data Protection

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether statements containing personal data, including national insurance numbers, bank account details and the names of relatives living at home are sent to benefit claimants by Jobcentre Plus via non-registered post. [188229]

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

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 12 March 2008:

Training: Disabled

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much funding his Department has provided to people with disabilities to assist them with learning to use computers in each year since 2001. [185039]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available.


Aviation: Exhaust Emissions

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of emissions of carbon dioxide resulting from stacking over London and the South East of aircraft destined for Heathrow Airport in the last year for which figures are available; and what estimate she has made of the likely amount if the proposals in the recent consultation document on possible expansion of (a) Heathrow Airport and (b) Stansted Airport are implemented. [192366]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 7 March 2008]: Estimates of annual emissions of carbon dioxide attributable to stack-holding over London are not held centrally. No additional estimates were undertaken for the consultation on Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State wrote to the chief executive of NATS in September 2007 to encourage NATS to explore ways in which the performance of the air traffic control system can contribute to reducing aviation emissions.

NATS is currently consulting on the Terminal Control North airspace change proposal. This area of airspace is one of the most complex in the world, with routes in and out of major airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and London City. The
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proposed changes are designed to reduce delay while maintaining safety and improving environmental performance. The proposal is not associated with, and does not assume, future development of Heathrow, Stansted or any other airport in the region. This consultation is a matter for NATS, and I suggest the hon. Member directs any inquiries to the chief executive.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to minimise aircraft stacking over London; and what annual emissions of carbon dioxide she estimates arises from this practice. [188504]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 22 February 2008]: The operation of air traffic control stacking procedures, when demand dictates or when services are affected by weather or other factors, is a matter for NATS, the air navigation services provider.

We look to NATS to operate air traffic control efficiently, including minimising stacking as far as possible, consistent with their overall objectives.

Estimates of annual emissions of carbon dioxide attributable to stack-holding over London are not held centrally.

Blue Badge Scheme

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will instruct authorities responsible for parking enforcement to (a) desist from issuing penalty notices to users who place a valid, old-style badge incorrectly and (b) refund any penalties incurred by badge holders where they can prove their badge was valid but incorrectly displayed, following the modification in October 2007 of the Blue Badge to include a new message instructing users which way up to display the badge. [192738]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Blue Badges must be displayed correctly in order to help parking enforcement officers to identify abuse. All badges issued after 15 October 2007 contain additional wording to help users display the correct badge.

All badges issued before this time still contain written guidance on the correct method of display. In light of this fact, and the wide availability of the free public advice leaflet “The Blue Badge Scheme: Rights and Responsibilities in England” there are no plans to instruct local authorities to desist from issuing penalty notices, or to refund any penalties already issued, to users who display or have displayed badges incorrectly.

Bus Lanes: Motorcycles

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make it her policy to amend her Department’s guidance to local authorities to encourage them to permit motorcycles to use bus lanes. [192614]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In line with actions set out in the Government’s Motorcycling Strategy, the Department has already amended guidance to local authorities on the use of bus lanes by motorcycles.

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In February 2007 the Department for Transport published Traffic Advisory Leaflet 2/07: The Use of Bus Lanes by Motorcycles. This makes clear to local highway authorities that it is for them to decide whether or not to allow motorcycles to use bus lanes and encourages them to make an objective assessment of the issue.

The new guidance revises previous advice in Local Transport Note 1/97: Keeping Buses Moving, which recommended that motorcycles should not normally be permitted to use bus lanes.

Bus Services: Concessions

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations she has received on the withdrawal of concessionary bus fares for people with mental health problems as a result of the introduction of the national concessionary bus travel scheme in (a) Derbyshire and (b) other areas; and if she will make a statement. [189737]

Ms Rosie Winterton: A number of representations about changes to local, discretionary concessionary bus travel schemes have been directed to my Department. This includes representations about Derbyshire's decision to continue to fund only elements of their local discretionary travel scheme.

The Transport Act 2000 sets out the eligibility criteria for statutory concessionary bus travel, covering any person who: is blind or partially sighted; is profoundly or severely deaf; is without speech; has a disability, or has suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to walk; does not have arms or has long-term loss of the use of both arms; has a learning disability that is a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or would, if he or she applied for a grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his or her application refused pursuant to section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Local authorities retain the ability to offer discretionary concessions over and above this statutory minimum at their own expense, these including offering concessionary travel to other categories of people such as those with mental health problems.

Central Government are responsible for the England-wide statutory minimum concession which, from 1 April, is being improved to allow eligible people free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England. We are providing £212 million to local authorities to cover the additional cost of this, and are confident that in total there is sufficient funding to cover the whole cost of this concession.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether she has held discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for the Economy and Transport, on the extension of free cross-border bus travel for pensioners between England and Wales; and if she will make a statement. [193011]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: I have not held discussions with the Minister for the Economy and Transport in Wales about further extensions to concessionary travel. The Government’s current focus remains on ensuring the successful introduction of the new England-wide concession on 1 April.

The complexity and cost associated with mutual recognition is likely to be considerable. There are issues around how operators will be properly reimbursed (given the differing arrangements in place), by whom, and whether the terms of the different concessions would have to be harmonised (which would be very expensive). These issues will be much easier to address once full smart ticketing is in place on all buses.

In the interim, local authorities in border areas retain the flexibility to fund cross-border travel for their own residents at their own discretion.

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