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Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) blind and (b) partially sighted people living in Southend West constituency received the mobility component of disability living allowance (i) at the higher rate and (ii) at the lower rate (A) in each year since 1997 and (B) at the latest date for which information is available. 
|Disability living allowance claimants with a main disabling condition of blindness by mobility component: Southend West parliamentary constituency|
|Year ending||Higher rate mobility component||Lower rate mobility component|
| = Nil or negligible|
1. Although the 5 per cent. sample data would normally be used to produce tables on DLA disabling condition as it contains more complete information on disabling condition, in this case the 100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study has been used. This is because for a small subset of the caseload such as those with one specific disabling condition in one parliamentary constituency, the sampling variation associated with figures produced from the 5 per cent. sample data would be such as to make the results unreliable.
2. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
3. Figures are only available from 2002.
4. Figures show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.
5. Where the claimant is eligible for both care and mobility components, the disabling condition associated with the mobility component is shown here. Where more than one disability is present only the main disabling condition is recorded.
6. A diagnosed medical condition does not mean that someone is automatically entitled to disability living allowance. Entitlement is dependent on an assessment of how much help someone needs with personal care and/or mobility because of their disability. These statistics are only collected for administrative purposes.
7. Figures are published on the Nomis website at
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will review the adequacy of the eligibility criteria for the mobility component of the disability living allowance with regard to people with visual impairments; 
(2) what factors were taken into account by his Department when it was decided not to provide £30 million of funding to allow visually impaired people to claim the higher rate of mobility component of the disability living allowance. 
All Government spending is subject to competing priorities. We have had very constructive discussions with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and others on their proposal that we extend the higher rate mobility component of
Disability Living Allowance to children and working age people with severe visual impairments. We understand the need to look at this important change to the arrangements for the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance. I look forward to working with RNIB to see how we could take this forward.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of his Department's Employee Assistance Programme has been in each year since its inception; and how much has been spent on (a) central administration of the programme, (b) counsellors delivering the programme and (c) services supplied by accredited counsellors not employed directly by his Department. 
The Department for Work and Pensions does not employ any counsellors. All counsellors delivering the programme are employed by the contractor. All their costs are included in the figures in the following table:
|Contract year||Annual EAP costs||Central administration costs|
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many face to face meetings his Departments Employee Assistance Programme has had in each year since its inception; with how many departmental staff; and if he will make a statement. 
|July to June each year||Number of staff to receive face to face counselling||Number of meetings undertaken|
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many requests for services provided by his Departments Employee Assistance Programme were received (a) in total, (b) from jobcentre plus staff and (c) from each non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible in each year since its inception; and if he will make a statement. 
|Non-departmental bodies public( 1)|
|July to June each year||DWP total||Jobcentre Plus||Health and Safety Executive||The Pensions Regulator||The Pension Protection Fund|
|(1) These are the only non-departmental public bodies within the Departments responsibility covered by the Employee Assistance Programme contract|
(2) Not covered by the contract in 2005-06
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many medical practitioners have received training for the examination of claimants of employment and support allowance. 
Jonathan Shaw: Atos Healthcare employs health care professionals to carry out medical examinations as part of the work capability assessment element of employment and support allowance. As of week ending 7 November 2008, there are one 123 health care professionals fully trained for the examination of claimants of employment and support allowance with others at various stages of their training programmes.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when his Department expects to issue guidance to medical practitioners in relation to examinations of claimants of employment and support allowance. 
Jonathan Shaw: Health care professionals employed by Atos Healthcare carry out examinations on employment and support allowance customers from 27 October 2008. Guidance relating to examination of claimants of employment and support allowance has been issued to Atos health care professionals from 3 October 2008.
We have also undertaken a range of communication activities to ensure other health care professionals are aware of employment and support allowance and the new processes. These include direct mail to GPs, articles in various professional editorials, employment and support allowance web page and sponsored web links.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the demand for work-focused interviews in each of the next 12 months in each Jobcentre Plus (a) district and (b) region, broken down by benefit claimed. 
John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he (a) has taken and (b) is planning to take to develop a cross-governmental national strategy on employment retention for disabled people, as set out in the Independent Living Strategy document; and which departments are involved in its production. 
Jonathan Shaw: DWP along with the Office for Disability Issues will lead the development of a cross-government national strategy aimed at enabling people to remain in employment when they acquire an impairment or long-term health condition, or when an existing impairment or condition worsens/fluctuates. The Independent Living Strategy sets out a timetable of 2008-10 for the development of the strategy. Work to take this commitment forward will start in the new year.
John Penrose: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the future budget for Flexible New Deal in the event of future increases in unemployment. 
Mr. McNulty: The Department for Work and Pensions published its CSR2007 three-year plan in February 2008. Copies are available in the Library. Any adjustments to that plan including, for example, potential future increases in unemployment are the subject of ongoing discussion between Department for Work and Pensions and Treasury Ministers.
The Department has been planning for the impact of higher levels of jobseekers allowance claims in the coming months and is developing plans right across its areas of responsibility to assess and manage the impact of an economic downturn.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidelines his Department has issued on direct payment of housing benefit to landlords in respect of claimants who are (a) mentally ill and (b) vulnerable; and what measures are in place to monitor the standards of accommodation offered in such cases. 
Kitty Ussher: For information about the direct payment of housing benefit, I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave the right hon. Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith) on 28 October 2008, Official Report, columns 861-62W.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 10 November 2008, Official Report, column 911W, on housing benefit, how many days on average each of the 10 local authorities which took the (a) most and (b) least time to process new housing benefit claims in 2007-08 took. 
|Average time taken in calendar days to process new claims for housing benefit in 2007-08, 10 local authorities taking least time|
|Average time taken in calendar days to process new claims for housing benefit in 2007-08, 10 local authorities taking most time|
| Note: Claim processing performance data are supplied to DWP by local authorities and are un-audited. Where no data have been received for a particular quarter the average annual performance has been estimated from available data.|
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