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22 Oct 2008 : Column 410W—continued


Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the relationship between parents' cooking skills and child poverty in families. [226245]

Kitty Ussher: We have not made an assessment of the relationship between parents' cooking skills and child poverty in families.


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However, food and nutrition in schools and nurseries is being improved as a result of the introduction of new standards over the past three years.

Sure Start Children's Centres educate children about healthy living from a young age, engaging parents to promote a whole-family approach to eating well and keeping active. Centres deliver activities that encourage an understanding of the importance of diet and nutrition in improving children's health, and provide one to one support for children and parents who are already obese.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to reduce levels of child poverty. [226453]

Kitty Ussher: We have made substantial progress. But we are not complacent and despite the scale of the challenge, the Government's commitment to tackling child poverty is stronger than ever.

We have introduced a range of fiscal and other measures to raise family incomes and ensure poor families with children can access high quality services to support their child's development.

We have invested in public services, such as education, health care and housing which have played a key role in overcoming some of the immediate effects of growing up in poverty and provided poor children with opportunities to enhance their life chances and break cycles of deprivation. Hundreds of thousands of families have been helped by new tax credits, better public services and a renewed welfare state. Already 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty since 1998-99.

In addition, Government announcements over the past two years will result in lifting around a further 500,000 children from relative poverty.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in which areas of public policy he plans to bring forward legislation to contribute to achieving the target of eradicating child poverty by 2020. [226534]

Kitty Ussher: We are working particularly closely with stakeholder groups as well as talking to children and families, to devise a strategy to eradicate child poverty by 2020 and to enshrine this commitment into legislation.

Social Security Benefits

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people with HIV have had their (a) disability living allowance and (b) incapacity benefit reduced or removed in the last 12 months. [227745]

Jonathan Shaw: I refer the hon. Member to the oral answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Dr. Gibson) on 20 October 2008, Official Report, column 9.

Social Security Benefits: Armed Forces

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department takes to ensure that serving and former servicemen receive the benefits to which they are entitled; and if he will make a statement. [227837]


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Kitty Ussher: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given by my predecessor to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) on 6 October 2008, Official Report, columns 53-55W.

Social Security Benefits: Automated Credit Transfer

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the merits of introducing a system of automatic payments of benefits to people who are eligible for but not claiming pension credit or council tax benefit; [228458]

(2) what discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues on sharing data in order to enable automatic payment of benefits. [228461]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have regular meetings with ministerial colleagues on a range of issues relating to the assessment and payment of benefits.

The Government are determined to do everything they can to ensure that people get the benefit that they are entitled to, including using information more effectively. For example we already use sophisticated data matching to identify eligible non-recipients and then use a range of approaches to help encourage them to claim.

We have made considerable progress in making the process for claiming benefits more automatic. For example, in a new initiative starting this autumn, pensioners can claim housing benefit and council tax benefit with pension credit entirely over the phone without having to fill in and sign a form.

Social Security Benefits: Lone Parents

Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assistance he plans to make available to lone parents who move from income support to jobseeker’s allowance when their youngest child reaches the age of 12 years to provide the flexibility needed to combine family commitments with job seeking. [227807]

Kitty Ussher: A holding reply was sent on 20 October 2008.

Lone parents claiming jobseeker's allowance will have a jobseeker's agreement, tailored to their individual circumstances, setting out what they will do to get work. This will include any restrictions agreed between them and their adviser on their availability and search for work. This could include restricting their availability to a minimum of 16 hours per week. There are also time-limited easements within the jobseeker's allowance regime which cover special circumstances and include periods where the lone parent or their child is ill or if there is a domestic emergency.

In addition, to safeguard the welfare of children, regulations will be amended to increase Jobcentre Plus adviser discretion so that a lone parent who is claiming jobseeker's allowance will not be penalised if they leave a job, or fail to take up a job, because appropriate, affordable child care is not available.

Unemployment

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of future trends in the level of unemployment in the UK. [227888]


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Mr. McNulty: While we do not predict future levels of unemployment, we are planning for the impact of higher levels of jobseeker's allowance claims in the coming months. Clearly this is a sensible approach given the expected trends during a time of slower economic growth.

Transport

Airports: Public Participation

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many consultation exercises his Department has undertaken on airport expansion in the last three years; and at what cost. [227821]

Jim Fitzpatrick: One, with a supplementary consultation. The "Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport" consultation was published on 22 November 2007 and closed on 27 February this year. As part of the work to update the Impact Assessment issued with that consultation, the Department is currently consulting on an equalities impact assessment of the Heathrow development options. This closes on 9 November.

As this is still ongoing, the full costs of the “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” consultation process have not yet been finalised.

Bus Services

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in how many areas real-time information is displayed at bus stops. [227110]

Paul Clark: In the period of the first round of Local Transport Plans, from 2001-02 to 2005-06, local transport authorities installed travel information displays in 34,271 bus stops.

The following table shows the regional breakdown for bus stops with new travel information displays installed during this period.

Region Number of new RTI bus stops

East

4,347

East midlands

1,117

North-east

5,804

North-west

18,765

South-east

1,287

South-west

539

West midlands

479

Yorkshire and Humberside

1,933


This information is not readily available prior to 2001-02, and to reduce the reporting burdens on local authorities has not been collected since 2005-06.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has issued guidance on the desirable frequency of Sunday bus services. [227729]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport has not issued any guidance on this matter. To the extent that bus service frequency needs are not being met by bus companies acting commercially, it is for each local authority to decide according to their assessment of local needs and priorities whether they should subsidise enhanced provision.


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Bus Services: Concessions

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2008, Official Report, column 427W, on bus services: concessions, when he plans to publish the results of his Department's survey of travel concession authorities; if he will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent to each travel concession authority; and if he will make a statement. [226661]

Paul Clark: Preliminary results from the 2008 Concessionary Bus Fares Survey were published in September in the Department's Public Transport Statistics Bulletin, a copy of which is in the House Library. More detailed results will be published on the Department for Transport's website in November 2008.

A copy of the e-mail and survey questionnaire sent to all Concessionary Travel Authorities have been placed in the House Library.

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the surplus or shortfall experienced by each local authority as a result of the funding provided by his Department for the provision of free bus passes for people aged over 60 years. [228019]

Paul Clark [holding answer 17 October 2008]: The Government are confident that funding for statutory concessionary travel is sufficient in total to meet the cost to travel concession authorities (TCAs). The bulk of the funding remains within the overall local government formula grant settlement. Additionally, the Department for Transport provides a special grant totalling £212 million in 2008-09 based on generous assumptions around fares, pass take-up, extra journeys and additional costs. This new funding gave many TCAs increases of 30 per cent. or more on the spending that they reported for concessionary travel in 2006-07.

The Government will continue to monitor the impact of England-wide statutory concessionary travel. There are seasonal patterns to travel so it will take several months to see the full effect.

Bus Services: Standards

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps the Government has taken to improve bus services in England. [228310]

Paul Clark: The Local Transport Bill, currently before Parliament, contains measures to improve local bus services. These include provisions that will support stronger partnership working between local authorities and bus operators, make quality contracts schemes a more realistic option for local authorities where they are in the public interest, give passengers a stronger voice by establishing a statutory bus passenger ‘champion’, and help to improve bus punctuality.

We are also currently considering changes to bus subsidies—in particular the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG)—bringing them more in line with our environmental objectives and improving services for passengers.


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And we have announced a further £25 million of funding for a new Kickstart competition. The funding will contribute to the Department for Transport’s overall objectives of increasing bus patronage, improving accessibility to services and developing bus services as an alternative to car use. Over the coming months, we will be engaging with key stakeholders on the details of the scheme in preparation for the competition to begin in early 2009.

Bypasses: Construction

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which bypasses have been completed since 2000; [227090]

(2) how many bypasses have been built in (a) urban and (b) rural areas since 1997. [227091]

Paul Clark: The following table lists bypass schemes which have been completed since 1997 by either the Highways Agency or the relevant local highway authorities. The Department does not distinguish between (a) urban and (b) rural areas.


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22 Oct 2008 : Column 417W
Year Scheme

1997

A1184 Bishop Stortford South West Distributor Road, Hertfordshire

Parkeston Bypass Stage 1, Phase 1A, Essex .

Averham Bypass,. Nottinghamshire

A256 Whitfield to Eastry/Whitfield Bypass

A413Wendover Bypass, Buckinghamshire

1998

Werrington/Glinton Bypass, Cambridgeshire

Parkeston Bypass Stage 1, Phase 1B, Essex

A15/A16 Market Deeping Bypass, Lincolnshire

A16 Peakes Parkway, North East Lincolnshire

Dearne Town Link Road, Barnsley

A1058 Cradlewell Bypass; Newcastle

A228 Hale Street Bypass, Kent

A289 Wainscott Bypass, Kent

Tingewick Bypass, Buckinghamshire

1999

Dudley Southern Bypass, West Midlands

Coalfields Link Road Phase 1, Barnsley

Leeds Inner Ring Road, Stage 6, Leeds

2000

A617 Rainworth Bypass, Nottinghamshire

2001

A174 Skelton and Brotton Bypass

Burntwood Bypass Phase 1 and 2, Staffordshire

A151 Weston Bypass , Lincolnshire

C541 Addlethorpe Bypass and Bends Improvement, Lincolnshire

2002

A143 Broome-Ellingham, Essex

A131 Great Leighs , Essex

A6023 Denaby Main Diversion, Doncaster

A511 Ashby Bypass Stage 2, Leicestershire

A27 Polegate Bypass, East Sussex

A43 Silverstone Bypass (A43 M40 to B4031 Dualling), Northamptonshire

A43 Whitfield Turn to Brackley Hatch Improvement (A43 M40 to B4031 Dualling), Northamptonshire

A6 Clapham Bypass, Bedfordshire

A66 Stainburn and Great Clifton Bypass, Cumbria

Wyre Piddle Bypass,. Worcestershire

A428 Crick Bypass, Northamptonshire: (Developer Funded)

2003

A350 Semington-Melksham Diversion, Wiltshire

Barnsley Coalfields Link Road (aka Shafton Bypass)

A6 Great Glen Bypass, Leicestershire

A53 Hodnett Bypass, Shropshire

A5 Nesscliffe Bypass, Shropshire

A500 Basford, Hough and Shavington Bypass, Cheshire

A6 Rothwell-Desborough Bypass, Northamptonshire

A6 Rushden and Higham Ferrers Bypass, Northamptonshire

A6 Alvaston Bypass, Derbyshire

A650 Bingley Relief Road, Yorkshire

A4146 Stoke Hammond and Linslade Bypass (Northern Section), Buckinghamshire

A41 Aston Clinton Bypass, Buckinghamshire

A527 Biddulph Inner Bypass, Staffordshire

Ashton-Under-Lyne Northern Bypass Stage 1, Tameside

2004

St Clements Way, Thurrock (aka West Thurrock Marshes Relief Road)

A607 Rearsby Bypass, Leicestershire

Mansfield Ashfield Regeneration Route, Nottinghamshire

A63 Selby Bypass,; North Yorkshire ..

A10 Wadesmill to Colliers End Bypass, Hertfordshire

2005

A167 Chilton Bypass, Durham

A21 Lamberhurst Bypass, Kent

A47 Thorney Bypass, Norfolk

A142 Fordham Bypass, Cambridgeshire

Gloucester South West Bypass (Castlemeads section)

A5 Weeford-Fazeley Improvement, Staffordshire

A158 Coastal Access Improvement Phase 1—Partney Bypass, Lincolnshire

A428 West Haddon Bypass, Northamptonshire (Developer Funded)

A57 Cadishead Way (Brinell Drive to City Boundary), Salford

Burntwood Bypass Phase 3, Staffordshire

2006

A505 Baldock Bypass, Hertfordshire

South Lowestoft Relief Road, Suffolk

A421 Great Barford Bypass, Bedfordshire

2007

Barford Bypass, Warwickshire

A58 Blackbrook Diversion,. St Helens, Merseyside

A197 Pegswood Bypass, Northumberland

A1198 Papworth Everard Bypass, Cambridgeshire

A612 Gedling Integrated Transport Scheme, Nottinghamshire

A429 Barford Bypass, Warwickshire

Barnstaple Western Bypass, Devon

A38 Northfield Regeneration Relief Road, Birmingham

Rugeley Eastern Bypass Stage 2, Staffordshire

A4146 Stoke Hammond and Linslade Western Bypass, Buckinghamshire

Cradley Heath Town Centre Relief Road, Sandwell

Sheffield Northern Inner Relief Road, Sheffield

A158/C541 Coastal Access Improvement Scheme, Phase 2—Burgh Le Marsh Bypass, Lincolnshire

A165 Reighton Bypass, North Yorkshire

Ridgmont Bypass and Woburn Link Road,. Bedfordshire

A66 Temple Sowerby Bypass and Improvements at Winderwath, Cumbria

2008

Tunstall Northern Bypass, Stoke

A590 High and Low Newton Bypass, Cumbria


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