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Whatever the outcome, people will still be able to access their pension or benefit at the Post Office if they choose to do so, and there is a range of bank accounts available at the Post Office that makes this possible. The Government remain strongly committed to a sustainable and nationwide Post Office network, on the back of the £1.7 billion funding package and new national access criteria for the Post Office that we announced last year.

Ministers have regular discussions with colleagues about the payments of benefits and pensions and wider social policy issues.

Poverty: Pensioners

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners who would be lifted out of poverty if there was 100 per cent. take up of entitlement to (a) council tax benefit, (b) pension credit and (c) housing benefit. [221690]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer the hon. and learned Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O’Brien) gave the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Jenny Willott) on 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 1188W.

Powers Of Entry

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation sponsored by his Department has (i) amended and (ii) enhanced existing powers of entry since May 1997. [222132]

Mr. McNulty: I refer to the reply given to parliamentary written question number 222046 by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr. Coaker) on 7 October 2008, Official Report , column 577W.

Social Security Benefits: Earnings Rules

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether a deferred state pension is considered notional income when calculating (a) housing and (b) council tax benefit. [228245]

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

Notional income provisions in housing benefit (HB) and council tax benefit (CTB) do not apply to state pension which is being deferred. As HB and CTB can be paid to people who are working, it was decided as a matter of policy that a person who defers their pension should not be subject to the notional income rule. This reflects the policy of encouraging people to stay in work after state retirement age if they wish to do so.

This is not the case in state pension credit, where different policy considerations apply. Deferred state pension is considered as notional income in pension credit because pension credit is intended to help people whose resources are insufficient to meet their day-to-day living expenses. Any income that is available to meet those expenses, including deferred state pension, is normally taken fully into account when working out how much benefit can be paid.

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For this reason, for people who claim HB and/or CTB and are in receipt of only the savings credit element of state pension credit, the Pension, Disability and Carers Service will have taken the person's deferred state pension into account when calculating entitlement to pension credit. In these cases, the local authority must use the Pension, Disability and Carers Service's assessment of income when calculating entitlement to housing benefit and council tax benefit.

So, effectively, deferred state pension will be taken into account in these cases. We are aware of this issue and are considering options for reviewing it.

Social Security Benefits: Telephone Services

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) on what date the decision was made to charge clients for telephone calls to the 0845 number for the benefits delivery centre at St. Austell; and for what reason the decision was made; [227365]

(2) what revenue Jobcentre Plus has received from the operation of the 0845 number of the benefits delivery centre at St. Austell in each of the last three years; and how this revenue has been allocated. [227366]

Mr. McNulty: A holding reply was sent on 16 October 2008.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

Unemployment Benefits

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of children lived in families claiming out-of-work benefits in each year since 2004, broken down by parliamentary constituency. [226158]

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Kitty Ussher: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 6 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1237-38W.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the most recent workload forecasts by Jobcentre Plus are for the volume of claims for (a) jobseeker’s allowance, (b) income support, (c) incapacity benefit and (d) Social Fund loans for (i) the second, (ii) the third and (iii) the fourth quarters of 2008-09 and (iv) 2009-10, broken down by region; and if he will make a statement. [227951]

Mr. McNulty: A holding reply was sent on 20 October 2008.

The information has been placed in the Library.

Unemployment Benefits: Coastal Areas

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average length of time on (a) incapacity benefit, (b) income support and (c) jobseeker's allowance was in the latest period for which figures are available for claimants in the most-deprived ward in (i) Barry, (ii) Blackpool, (iii) Bognor Regis, (iv) Bournemouth, (v) Bridlington, (vi) Brighton, (vii) Burnham on Sea, (viii) Clacton, (ix) Conway, (x) Dawlish/Teignmouth, (xi) Deal, (xii) Eastbourne, (xiii) Exmouth, (xiv) Falmouth, (xv) Folkestone/Hythe, (xvi) Great Yarmouth, (xvii) Hastings/Bexhill, (xviii) Ilfracombe, (xix) Isle of Wight, (xx) Lowestoft, (xxi) Minehead, (xxii) Morecambe/Heysham, (xxiii) Newquay, (xxiv) Penzance, (xxv) Porthcawl, (xxvi) Rhyl, (xxvii) Scarborough, (xxviii) Sidmouth, (xxix) Skegness, (xxx) Southend on Sea, (xxxi) Southport, (xxxii) St Ives, (xxxiii) Swanage, (xxxiv) Thanet, (xxxv) Torbay, (xxxvi) Weston super Mare, (xxxvii) Weymouth, (xxxviii) Whitby, (xxxix) Whitley Bay, (xl) Whitstable/Herne Bay and (xli) Worthing ranked in order of greatest disparity from the national average. [228675]

Mr. McNulty: The information is not available.

Voluntary Work

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research he has commissioned on the effect of volunteering on an individual’s speed of return to employment; and if he will make a statement. [227946]

Mr. McNulty: A holding reply was sent on 17 October 2008.

We are in no doubt of the important role that voluntary activity in the community can play in helping unemployed people to keep in touch with the labour market. Voluntary work can also provide benefit recipients with skills and experience that may improve their chances of finding paid employment.

Recent research has looked at volunteering in the context of mandatory options in the new deals, including “The Longer Term Impact of the New Deal for Young People” (DWP working paper 23, 2008) and changes to benefit rules related to volunteering, “Volunteering and Availability for Work: An evaluation of the change to Jobseeker’s Allowance regulations” (DWP working-age research report 190, 2004).

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Copies of these reports have been placed in the library.

Welfare to Work: Devolution

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what Ministerial or official meetings he or his officials have had with counterparts in the devolved institutions in Scotland and Wales on welfare to work programmes; and if he will publish the minutes of such meetings. [226838]

Mr. McNulty: Ministers and officials meet with the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government on issues of mutual concern in line with Cabinet Office guidance on working with the devolved Administrations. Minutes of meetings are not normally made public.

Children, Schools and Families

Academies: Sponsorship

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what criteria his Department uses to value non-cash contributions made by academy sponsors. [230135]

Jim Knight: Sponsors of academies, whether they contribute financially or in other ways, are key to driving the educational transformation of failing schools. This Department does not use set criteria to evaluate non-cash contributions. Non-cash contributions include: developing an ethos and vision for the proposed academy; chairing the Project Steering Group and Design User Group to ensure the sponsor's vision and ethos guide the establishment of the academy. DCSF officials and consultants work with the sponsor at all stages in the development and operation of the academy, supporting them to provide this role.

Assessments: Finance

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how much funding has been provided by his Department to educational institutions to offer diploma courses for 14 to 19-year-olds, broken down by institution type; [225838]

(2) how much funding each school and college offering diplomas for 14 to 19-year-olds will receive in each of the next three years in (a) per capita funding and (b) other funding as a result of offering diploma courses; [225839]

(3) how much his Department has spent on (a) advertising, (b) conferences and (c) other forms of marketing in respect of 14 to 19 diplomas in each year since the plan to introduce such diplomas was announced; [225845]

(4) what estimate he has made of his Department's expected total expenditure on diplomas for 14 to 19-year-olds by the end of 2009. [225846]

Jim Knight: Diplomas are delivered by consortia of schools and colleges and we provide funding to consortia. We do not hold information on the amount of diploma funding at individual school or college level.

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The Department has provided for 2008-09 a grant towards the additional costs of delivering diplomas at KS4 to those local authorities with consortia approved to deliver the first five diploma lines. The average level of funding is £1,000 per diploma learner, though the actual amount each institution receives for students aged 16-18 taking diplomas is calculated according to rates published for providers by the Learning Skills Council (LSC). The rate is based on the costs of learning being delivered and other factors related to the needs of the individual learner and the particular circumstances of the institution.

Details of spend on advertising, conferences and other marketing in relation to diplomas is as follows:

Amount spent (£)
Activity 2007-08 2008-09




Other forms of marketing leaflets, posters, DVDs, website and Roadshows






Funding estimated to be made available for diplomas during the financial year 2008-09 is £128.4 million.

Autism: Intimidation

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to minimise the number of pupils with autism who are excluded from school because they are being bullied. [230239]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: We have an ongoing programme of work to help prevent and tackle the bullying of children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. In May 2008 we published guidance which provides schools with comprehensive advice on how to prevent and tackle the bullying of children with SEN and disabilities. The guidance makes clear that pupils with SEN and disabilities must not be excluded from school for being bullied, even if the school believes they are doing so for the child’s benefit. The guidance also includes useful case studies illustrating how schools have successfully tackled the bullying of autistic pupils, and how schools should respond in situations where autistic pupils are provoked into attacking other pupils. The Anti-Bullying Alliance and National Strategies are working with local authorities and schools to ensure the guidance is effectively implemented on the ground.

Children: Databases

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will place in the Library copies of letters sent by his Department's ContactPoint team to practitioners about Conservative Party policy on ContactPoint; to whom these letters were sent; and who authorised them being sent. [230558]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: This question was answered in a letter from David Bell, the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Children, Schools and Families, sent on 24 October 2008 to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove). A copy of the letter has been placed in the House Library.

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Departmental Bank Services

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many of his Department's capital projects under (a) the Building Schools for the Future programme and (b) other programmes have involved financing from Landsbanki in the last three years, broken down by (i) school and (ii) local authority area. [230220]

Jim Knight: The Department is not aware, from information held centrally, of financing from Landsbanki being involved in capital projects funded through its schools capital programmes.

Departmental Recruitment

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many civil servants in his Department were recruited through the fast stream; and what the average salary of those officials is. [229141]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Department was created on 28 June 2007. Since that time to date, there have been 40 civil servants recruited through the fast stream. The average salary is £27,793.

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