|Work skills (vocational qualifications)
|April to March
Open University (OU) courses open to prisoners are agreed by the Offenders Learning and Skills Unit (OLSU) working in collaboration with the OU and the Prison Service. Where a prisoner does not have sufficient funds to meet their own learning costs, the OLSU will fund an openings course and/or a first course for a prisoner accepted onto a programme of study leading to an undergraduate qualification. OLSU delivers this funding though an administrative arrangement operated on its behalf by the Prisoners Education Trust. The OLSU also meets the additional tutorial costs the OU incurs in delivering local support to prisoners. This latter support, unlike course fee support, can continue into second and subsequent courses leading to a qualification at undergraduate level.
Transfer of responsibility for planning and funding offender learning provision to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) from HM Prison Service was carried out in two stages. The LSC took responsibility for delivery in three development regions from July 2005, with HM Prison Service retaining responsibility in the remaining regions. Having trialled the new delivery arrangement in those three regions, the new service was implemented across England as a whole on 31 July 2006.
|(1) Development regionsnorth-east, north-west, south-west
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the variable threshold bands are for EU graduates who move abroad and who owe money to the Student Loans Company. 
Bill Rammell: We have put in place variable threshold bands to provide a fair system to enable graduates who move abroad to contribute to the costs of their education. The bands are dependent on where the borrower lives and take account of differences in living costs.
The following table shows what the thresholds are for 2008-09 in other European countries as well as some other common destinations after graduation. The thresholds are updated each year to take account of price changes. This table is reproduced in the annual Student Loans: A Guide to Terms and Conditions booklet and full details can be found at:
|Price level index (UK=100)
|Repayment threshold (UK=£15,000)
|Countries using the latest available price level index figures
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) whether Scottish-domiciled higher education students will have to be in possession of an identity card in order to access student loans or other state or Institution-determined support related to their studies at English higher education institutions in 2009-10 or in any subsequent years; 
(2) whether Welsh-domiciled higher education students will have to be in possession of an identity card in order to access student loans or other state or Institution-determined support related to their studies at English higher education institutions in 2009-10 or in any subsequent years. 
James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what notification is required to be given to recipients of student loans on changes in the interest rates charged on such loans. 
Bill Rammell: In accordance with the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 the Student Loans Company (SLC) publishes details of the forthcoming change in the interest rate payable for Mortgage Style (MS) Student Loans before the new rate takes effect on 1 September each year. There is no similar requirement for advance notification for Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Student Loans which have exemption from arrangements governing consumer credit agreements.
However, the SLC publishes notices of the change of interest rates affecting all student loan borrowers in national newspapers before 1 September each year. The change is also published on the SLC's and Government websites.
Borrowers with MS loans are individually informed of the change by the SLC and private sector debt owners before 1 September. This is important as a change in interest rate for these borrowers changes the payments they are required to make. Borrowers with ICR loans receive notification of the change with their annual statements. For the majority these are issued between September and December.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will make an estimate of the cost to the public purse of introducing thresholds and rates of student loan repayments of (a) 0 per cent. on incomes below £20,000, (b) 5 per cent. on incomes of £20,000 to £29,999, (c) 7.5 per cent. on incomes of £30,000 to £41,225 and (d) 12 per cent. on incomes over £41,225; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 20 March 2008]: Introducing repayment thresholds of £20,000, £30,000 and £41,225 with corresponding repayment rates of 5 per cent. 7.5 per cent. and 12 per cent. would have an estimated one-off resource cost of £2 billion (for existing loans) and on ongoing resource cost of £700 million per year (for new loans).
The income threshold is one of the main features of the income contingent loan scheme. This protects borrowers when they need it as they only pay their loan back once they earn over the threshold. Borrowers currently repay nothing until they earn over £15,000. This strikes the right balance, making payments affordable to the individual and student loans affordable to the public purse. We are committed to maintaining the repayment threshold at £15,000 until 2010 when we will review it.
Jacqui Smith: Available information relates to offences in which Air weapons and BB guns/Soft air weapons caused injury by being fired or used as a blunt instrument in crimes recorded in England and Wales.
Air weapon injuries from 2002-03 up to and including 2006-07 are given in the following table. Separate BB guns/Soft air weapons data are not available centrally for 2002-03 and 2003-04. Data for these weapons are only given from 2004-05 to 2006-07.
|Injuries due to Air weapons and BB guns/Soft air weapons in crimes recorded by the police, England and Wales 2002-03 to 2006-07
|BB guns/Soft air weapons
|(1 )The National Crime Recording Standard was introduced on 1 April 2002.Figures for some crime categories may have been inflated by this.
(2 )These data are not available centrally. BB guns/Soft air weapons were separately collected from 1 April 2004. Figures prior to this date were included within imitation firearms.
(3) More explicit guidelines for the classification of weapons introduced on 1 April 2004 may have increased the recording of firearm offences .particularly those committed by imitation weapons.
Mr. McNulty: The Metropolitan Police Service has issued a guidance document titled Guidance on Setting Up and Maintaining Neighbourhood Panels which also contains advice on the role of councillors on such panels.
Jacqui Smith: The Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) commenced in 2002 as a development from the Voluntary Assisted Return Programme (VARP). The total cost of VARRP to 31 July 2007 is £37,803,669.80.