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19 May 2008 : Column 132W—continued

Plastic Bags

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many branded plastic bags his Department has purchased in the last 24 months for which figures are available; and at what cost; [184644]

Eric Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many branded plastic bags his Department and its agencies purchased in the last 24 months; and at what cost. [194765]

Mr. Bradshaw: Any branded plastic bags are procured by individual teams within the Department and we do not hold central records on which items were procured and at what cost. To provide this information would therefore incur disproportionate cost.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) purchased 1,000 white plastic bags printed with the MHRA logo on 28 January 2008 at a cost of £290.00 VAT inclusive.

Preventive Medicine

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent steps the Government has taken to reduce the number of deaths from preventable illnesses. [205766]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 674W. An example of what we are doing in relation to alcohol harm is the units campaign launched today.

Strokes: Health Services

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent steps the Government have taken to improve aftercare services for those who have had strokes. [205771]

Ann Keen: The new ‘National Stroke Strategy’, published in December 2007, sets out 20 quality markers for the provision of high quality treatment and care for adult stroke survivors. Of those quality markers, seven link directly to the kind of support and services which those who have had a stroke and their carers need in the community, including high quality rehabilitation, information, advice, practical and peer support throughout the care pathway, in line with individual need.

In addition to the funding that has gone to primary care trusts, £105 million of central funding over three years will support implementation, including £45 million to local authorities to help them—working with their national health service partners—develop or accelerate their existing provision of long-term support to those who live with the effects of a stroke.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent action the Government have taken to improve aftercare services for post-operative patients. [206057]

Mr. Bradshaw: As part of the 18-week programme, the Department, working together with the national health service, has developed 40 high-level, symptom based commissioning pathways which describe good practice from presentation of patients' symptoms to their discharge into review, rehabilitation and self-care. The Department has also published a good practice guide on maximum impact: shorter pathways, which includes good practice on all stages of pathway including post operative care. These are available from

In addition, the ‘no delays achiever’ and suite of supporting products, provides NHS organisations with practical advice on gives how to improve services at all stages of the pathway. This is available from

19 May 2008 : Column 133W

Work has started with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to improve the rehabilitation of patients following periods of critical care. This will focus on the physiological and psychological welfare of patients and is aimed at improving outcomes, their quality of life, and reducing readmissions to hospital.


Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many reported cases of toxocariasis in humans there were in the last three years. [204904]

Dawn Primarolo: The number of toxocariasis cases reported in the last three years in England and Wales is as follows:

Number of cases







Work and Pensions

Access to Work Programme: Finance

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the budget of access to work will be in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11. [200573]

Mr. Timms: Forecast expenditure plans are presented in the following table.

Access to work programme budget
£ million







Figures provided, particularly for 2009-10 and 2010-11 are indicative allocations based on current assumptions and are subject to change.

Children: Maintenance

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is planning to take account of the costs of both parents in looking after their children in the child maintenance system. [206200]

Mr. Plaskitt: Maintenance calculations under the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) will reflect the principles introduced with the simpler formula in 2003, that is, a structure of percentage rates based on the non-resident parent's income and number of qualifying children. The percentage rates strike the right balance between the needs of the child and the other expenses that non-resident parents have to meet.

A reduction in the amount of child maintenance otherwise payable will continue to apply where the non-resident parent shares the care of a qualifying child for 52 or more nights a year.

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Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission will take of the savings and capital of non-resident parents (a) before and (b) after an application for maintenance is made by the resident parent. [206202]

Mr. Plaskitt: Savings and capital can be taken into account only once maintenance has been applied for. A parent with care can apply for a variation to the standard maintenance calculation where the non-resident parent has significant assets, investments and other forms of capital, which amount to more than £65,000.

However, a variation will be allowed only where it is "just and equitable" to do so. Broadly this means that the result of the variation must be fair taking account of all the circumstances of the case, and, in particular, the welfare of any child likely to be affected. This includes the child for whom maintenance is paid as well as any other children living with either parent.

Departmental Information and Communications Technology

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2008, Official Report, column 179W, on departmental ICT, how many of the missing or stolen (a) laptops, (b) mobile telephones and (c) personal digital assistants have been replaced by his Department; and at what cost. [202436]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not recorded centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Manpower

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many customer-facing staff were employed by his Department in each year between 2004 and 2007; and how many such staff will be employed in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009. [200463]

Mrs. McGuire: The following table shows the number of staff employed in the Department's front line delivery businesses at 31 March for each year from 2004 to 2008. It is not possible to differentiate between those who deal directly with the public and those who perform other supporting functions. The figures are provided as full time equivalents.

Business Unit March 2004 March 2005 March 2006 March 2007 March 2008

Jobcentre Plus












Child Support Agency






Disability and Carers Service






Total Customer Facing Staff in DWP






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For 2008-09, details of the numbers of staff employed in the Department's front line delivery businesses is not available at present.

The Department's three year plan provides an indicative range of headcount reductions for the current Spending Review period and detailed business and regional plans for the period ending 31 March 2009 are currently being developed.

Employment Services: Learning Disability

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has to increase awareness of the services of disability employment advisers among people with a learning disability. [206505]

Mrs. McGuire: We recently carried out a major review of WORKSTEP, Access to Work, Work Preparation, the Job Introduction Scheme and the Disability Employment Advisor role. We listened to the views of many disabled people, employers, external delivery partners and Jobcentre Plus staff, as well as taking into account the recommendations from the National Audit Office and the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report ‘Improving Life Chances of Disabled People’. The public consultation, which closed on 10 March, set out proposals to improve these services to help more disabled people. We will publish a response to the consultation during the summer.

In the meantime, we will continue to take steps to raise awareness of the services that can be provided by Disability Employment Advisers. As well as the normal methods of publicity, for example leaflets and the Jobcentre Plus and Directgov websites, Disability Employment Advisers work hard to engage with customer representative organisations and other partners in the community. This is particularly important in increasing access to services for people with learning difficulties. In Edinburgh, for example, the Disability Employment Advisers work closely with organisations that support customers with learning disabilities.

Jobcentre Plus is often invited to contribute to literature produced by various disability organisations including for example RADAR'S Doing Work Differently, which includes information on Disability Employment Advisers and the specialised support available to disabled people. Jobcentre Plus also contributes articles to publications such as My Future Choices, the magazine of the Transition Information Network, outlining support available and how to get it. Where appropriate, Jobcentre Plus will continue these activities.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people with a learning disability Jobcentre Plus assisted in gaining employment in each of the last five years. [206506]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department plans to take to improve the training available to people with a learning disability who are applying for jobs with the support of Jobcentre Plus. [206507]

19 May 2008 : Column 136W

Mrs. McGuire: A lack of skills and the need for training is only one of a number of barriers faced by people with a learning disability who want to take up paid work.

We recognise the importance of working more closely and strategically with our key suppliers in order to help us improve delivery of services to customers, including where programmes provide training to support people with learning disabilities into jobs. Areas for improvement in training will also be driven through our management of contracts as well as Ofsted inspection and audit.

Jobcentre Plus offers a range of support to help people move into work. Workstep is designed to support disabled people who have more complex barriers to work, including those with a learning disability. Providers will provide training which is appropriate to enable the disabled employee to do their job. Around one third of Workstep participants have a learning disability. Others are helped by the Access to Work programme through which they can receive a grant to fund a support worker.

We are working jointly with other Departments to improve work opportunities for people with a learning disability. The Getting A Life project is specifically aimed at getting the employment, education and local authority day services functions for people with a learning disability to work together in an integrated manner. The main focus is on people going through transition to adulthood.

The project is being steered and funded by the Departments for Work and Pensions; Health; Innovation, Universities and Skills; and Children, Schools and Families; with the support of the Social Exclusion Task Force, Valuing People, and the Office for Disability Issues. Demonstration projects are being run in seven sites over a three year period from April 2008.

In addition, the Government's Public Service Agreement for socially excluded adults is aimed in part, at increasing the number of adults with learning disabilities in employment. To help us achieve this, we are working with local government through the new Local Area Agreements and we are also working with a number of departments to consider what more central Government can do to help this group of people into work.

Health and Safety Executive: Weber Shandwick Public Affairs

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what payments the Health and Safety Executive made to (a) Weber Shandwick Public Affairs and (b) Mandate Communications and AS Biss in each of the last five years; and on what date and for what purpose the payment was made in each case. [202270]

Mrs. McGuire: In 2008, the Health and Safety Executive paid a total of £25,850 to Weber Shandwick Worldwide for public affairs and stakeholder support in Scotland.

The Health and Safety Executive has contracted AS Biss (now Mandate Communications) to provide public affairs and stakeholder support and advice since
19 May 2008 : Column 137W
2004. The total payments for each calendar year are given in the following table.

Total payments











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