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Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the employment rate of (a) all people and (b) disabled people was in each of the last five years; and what progress has been made towards meeting his Departments public service agreement target 8. 
|Disabled employment Rate||GB employment Rate||Gap|
Labour Force Survey
Information relating to what progress has been made towards meeting this target (and others) is available in the departmental Autumn Performance Report 2007. This is available in the Library and can also be viewed at:
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 23 April 2008]: This Department delivers a range of programmes aimed at helping disabled people remove the barriers that prevent them moving into paid work. During 2006-07, new deal for disabled people enabled over 45,000 people to move from an incapacity benefit to paid work. As of May 2007, 2.64 million people were receiving incapacity benefits, the lowest number for almost eight years. The caseload has dropped by nearly 140,000 since a peak in November 2003.
From October 2008, we are replacing incapacity benefits for new customers with the employment and support allowance. The new benefit, alongside a more robust medical assessment, will focus on what work a person can do, rather than what they cannot. We are also investing over £1 billion in our Pathways to Work programme in the next three years and from April 2008 everyone on incapacity benefits in Great Britain will have access to this programme.
The employment disadvantage experienced by disabled people has declined substantially over time. The difference between the employment rate for disabled people and the overall rate has narrowed from around 35 percentage points in spring 1998 to around 27 percentage points today. However, we know that disabled people are still disadvantaged in the labour market compared with other people. This is why we have significantly improved and extended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to provide greater protection for disabled people from discrimination in the fields of employment and occupation.
We recently undertook a public consultation on proposals to improve the specialist disability employment services, which includes WORKSTEP, Work Preparation, Access to Work, the Job Introduction Scheme and the Disability Employment Advisory service. These programmes collectively help substantial numbers of disabled people take up or retain paid work rather than resort to benefits.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment the (a) Health and Safety Executive and (b) Health and Safety Laboratory has made of the risks to refuse handlers of exposure to microbiological hazards from domestic rubbish; and what assessment he has made of the ways in which such risks may be affected by changes in the frequency of collection. 
Mrs. McGuire: Neither the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) nor the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) have made an assessment of the microbiological risks that refuse handlers may be exposed to. Health and safety legislation places a duty on employers (including local authorities and waste management companies) to carry out their own assessment of risk from hazards and ensure that the risks to the health and safety of workers and others are controlled so far as is reasonably practicable.
The HSL (in a project jointly commissioned by HSE, DEFRA, Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly
Government) have produced information on the hazards associated with refuse collection that can be used by duty holders to help them make their own assessment of risks.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of incapacity benefit claimants received the benefit for (a) back pain and (b) repetitive strain injuries in each year since 1980; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: The diagnosed condition does not of itself confer entitlement to incapacity benefits. Entitlement is dependent upon the medical assessment of incapacity for work, the personal capability assessment, which assesses how a person's condition affects their mental or physical functions.
|Number and proportion of incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance claimants with a primary diagnosis of back pain or repetitive strain injury|
|Back pain||Repetitive strain injury|
|As at May each year||Number||Percentage||Number||Percentage|
1. May 1995 to May 1999 (inclusive) numbers have been based on five per cent. sample figures uprated to 100 per cent WPLS totals.
2. May 2000 to May 2007 (inclusive) numbers are based on 100 per cent. WPLS figures.
3. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
4. May 1995 to May 1999 (inclusive) numbers are based on a five per cent. sample, and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation. These figures should be used as a guide to the current situation only.
5. Causes of incapacity are based on the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, published by the World Health Organisation.
6. Proportions are rounded to one decimal place.
DWP Information Directorate five per cent sample and 100 per cent Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether (a) town and (b) parish councils are considered public bodies for the purposes of disability discrimination legislation. 
Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 places a statutory duty on every public authority, when carrying out its functions, to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. Town and parish councils
as part of our system of local government are public authorities for this purpose of this section.
Similarly, town and parish councils are also considered to be public authorities for the purposes of Sections 21B, 21D and 21E of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which make it unlawful for public authorities, in the carrying out of their functions, to discriminate against disabled people for a reason related to their disability and place a duty on them to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his estimate is of the number of women who will receive maternity allowance in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11; 
|Department for Work and Pensions forecast of maternity allowance new claim commencements|
Figures rounded to nearest thousand.
Budget 2008 Maternity Allowance Model
|Department for Work and Pensions forecast of annual maternity allowance expenditure|
|nominal terms, £ million|
Budget 2008 Maternity Allowance Model
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to answer Question 173276, on customer call centres, tabled on 6 December 2007 by the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2008, Official Report, columns 728-9W, on social security benefits: EU nationals, when he expects to be able to provide the information requested. 
Mrs. McGuire: We are still involved in discussions with the European Commission to clarify the extent of the Governments responsibilities. Until the full implications of the judgment are known, we cannot estimate the additional costs, staffing requirements or the number of additional customers.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer Question 177307, tabled on 7 January for answer on 10 January, on the recording of individuals' political opinions. 
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of China on the implementation of the one-child policy in Tibet; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed implementation of China's one child policy specifically in relation to Tibet. However, we do raise our concerns about abuses of the one child policy involving sterilisation and abortions. We did this most recently at the latest round of the UK-China human rights dialogue, which was held in Beijing on 28-31 January. We do not dispute China's right or need to implement family planning policies but we do believe they should be based on the principles of consent and not coercion. We will continue to encourage the Chinese to meet international human rights standards at every appropriate opportunity, both bilaterally and through the EU.
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