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15 Oct 2008 : Column 1247W—continued

Roads: Tolls

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 7 May 2008 to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, Official Report, column 893W, on roads: tolls, what progress has been made in establishing the road charging trials involving volunteers. [226726]

Paul Clark: On 15 September 2008 the Government confirmed the names of the companies who will run the Demonstrations Project on road pricing technology. Eight bids were received in response to the invitation to tender for the Road User Service Provider's Framework, of which four were successful. They were Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (UK), Sanef Tolling Limited, T-Systems Ltd. and Trafficmaster Plc.

As we announced in 2007 and then updated Parliament in July this year, these trials will explore how time-distance-place charging can work accurately, reliably and affordably while safeguarding privacy. Designing an effective mechanism to achieve these aims presents a significant challenge. We believe that this project will help local authorities in the longer-term development of their plans for combining a local congestion charging scheme investment with major investment in public transport.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will reply to question 220177, on staff, tabled on 15 July. [226925]

Mr. Hoon: I replied to the hon. Member on 13 October 2008, Official Report, column 892W.

Women and Equality


Philip Davies: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what estimate she has made of the number of people who will be required to monitor compliance of the provisions of the Equality Bill, if enacted. [218413]

Maria Eagle: There is no legal requirement on any particular organisation or person to monitor compliance with discrimination legislation generally and the Government intend to maintain this arrangement in the new Equality Bill. However, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has a statutory duty to monitor the effectiveness of discrimination legislation; powers to
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undertake inquiries and investigations and the power to enforce compliance with public sector duties. So, it will be up to the Commission to consider the allocation of resources to tasks which arise from the provisions of the new Equality Bill.

Work and Pensions

Child Support

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many maintenance calculations were made by the Child Support Agency in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the UK in each year since 1997. [223987]

Kitty Ussher: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

Current scheme initial maintenance calculations
Great Britain North East South Tyneside Jarrow


























1. Figures include all current scheme cases with an initial maintenance calculation.
2. As the current scheme came into existence in 2003, figures only go back to this date.
3. Cases have been allocated to the North East region, Jarrow parliamentary constituency and South Tyneside local authority by matching the postcode of the parent with care against the Office for National Statistics postcode directory.
4. Many cases can be re-assessed during their lifetime. Management information for current scheme cases only captures the number of initial assessments. Management information also exists on the date of the latest assessment for current scheme cases. However, as many cases could have been re-assessed many times between the initial assessment and latest assessment, a large proportion of re-assessments are excluded from the data. For this reason, only initial assessments have been included in the information provided.
5. CSCS calculations are not included in these figures. When a CSCS case is closed it is removed from the management information. A large proportion of CSCS cases will have closed and therefore the initial calculation date cannot be extracted from them.
6. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.

Employment Vacancies: Chelmsford

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many notified vacancies there were in Chelmsford local authority area in each of the last six months for which figures are available. [224480]

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James Purnell [holding answer 6 October 2008]: The available information is in the table.

Number of vacancies notified to Jobcentre Plus in the Chelmsford local authority area—March to August, 2008













1. Jobcentre Plus handles only a proportion of vacancies notified by employers. Consequently the figures do not represent the total number of job vacancies available.
2. Interpretation of the Jobcentre vacancy data should take account of changes in recent years to Jobcentre Plus procedures for taking and handling vacancies. The figures are not fully comparable over time and may not indicate changes in labour demand.
3. The Jobcentre Plus vacancies series do not provide comprehensive measures relating to all vacancies in the economy. The proportion of vacancies which are notified by employers to Jobcentre Plus varies over time, according to the occupation and industry of the vacancies and also by geographical area.
4. Comprehensive estimates of all job vacancies (not just those notified to Jobcentre Plus) are available from the monthly ONS Vacancy Survey since April 2001, based on a sample of some 6,000 enterprises. However, the ONS survey is currently designed to provide national estimates only.
Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System.

Income Support: Mortgages

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to offer additional support to householders who are having difficulties meeting their mortgage repayments; and if he will make a statement. [227241]

Jonathan Shaw: On 2 September we announced that we will reform Support for Mortgage Interest to simplify the system and make it easier for people who are eligible to claim.

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The changes include shortening the waiting period before support for mortgage interest is paid from 39 or 26 weeks to 13 weeks for new working age claims from April 2009; increasing the capital limit for new working age claims from £100,000 to £175,000 from April 2009 to take into account the value of people’s homes today; and introducing a two year time limit on support for mortgage interest for new jobseeker’s allowance claims only.

The system of support for home owners will be reviewed once housing market conditions improve.

Jobcentre Plus: Correspondence

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how long on average it took for Royal Mail Opening Units to receive, open, sort and deliver post to Jobcentre Plus sites using the service in each month in 2008 to date. [225417]

Mr. McNulty: The time taken by Mail Opening Units to receive, open, sort and deliver post is currently not recorded, however, the contracted time for this process equates to 12 hours. Management information gathered supports that this requirement is met.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much was paid in jobseeker's allowance in each financial year since 2005; [224651]

(2) how much was paid in jobseeker's allowance in each financial year from 2001 to 2005; [224652]

(3) how much was paid in jobseeker's allowance in each financial year from 1997 to 2001. [224653]

Mr. McNulty: The information is in the following table.

Jobseeker's allowance (JSA) expenditure: 1997-98 to 2007-08
£ million, nominal
JSA 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

Contribution based












Income based
























DWP accounting data

Pensioners: Poverty

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what response he has made to recent representations by the National Pensioners' Convention on the number of pensioners living on less than 40 per cent. of the median population income. [226254]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Tackling pensioner poverty continues to be one of this Government's key priorities.

The Government have introduced a number of measures to reduce the number of older people in poverty. In 1997, the poorest pensioners lived on around £69 a week, today pension credit ensures that no-one needs to live on less than £124.05 a week (£189.35 for a couple). We have successively raised the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit at least in line with earnings in every year since its introduction, and the value of the safety-net we provide for the poorest pensioners has increased by over a third in real terms since 1997.

Our commitments in the Pensions Act 2007 to continue to uprate the pension credit standard minimum guarantee in line with earnings over the long term, and to reintroduce the earnings link to basic state pension from 2012, or by the end of the next Parliament, will help secure these gains into the future.

We will continue to strive to ensure that older people are aware of, and take up their entitlements through initiatives such as; using sophisticated data matching to identify eligible non-recipients, home visits for vulnerable customers, local and national advertising and media
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campaigns, a simple and straight-forward claim process and ever closer working with partner organisations. In addition to pension credit we have increased winter fuel payments to £200 for households with someone aged 60-79, and £300 for those with someone aged 80 or over. And we will be making an additional payment for winter 2008-09 of £50 for households with someone aged 60-79 and £100 for those with someone aged 80 or over. Since 1997, we have also introduced free eye-tests, free bus passes for pensioners and free television licences for over 75s.

Post Office Card Account

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to make a decision on the award of the contract for the Post Office card account. [225529]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The procurement process is still under way.

An announcement will be made as soon as possible.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will ensure that his forthcoming decision on the Post Office card account does not jeopardise the viability of local post offices; and if he will make a statement. [226554]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The procurement process is still under way.

An announcement of the outcome will be made as soon as possible.

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