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Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent on (a) commissioning and (b) funding the production of television programmes in the last year; what programmes these were; and which companies made them. 
Jonathan Shaw: DWP has not to the best of my knowledge and based on our available records ever used taxpayers' money to commission or fund the production of TV programmes, and currently has no plans to do so.
Mr. McNulty: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus. I have asked the acting chief executive to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the staffing levels at Jobcentre Plus are sufficient during the economic downturn. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The funding for a staffing assumption in Jobcentre Plus for March 2009 has been increased by an additional 2,200 full time equivalents from 65,453 to 67,653 in recognition of the anticipated workloads in the operational year.
We intend to increase staffing from our current position of 66,733 by recruiting additional staff and have set in hand a fast track recruitment process to enable us to achieve this as quickly as possible.
Our staffing levels will be kept under active review in order to respond to rising economic challenges.
I hope this is helpful.
Mr. McNulty: The Government are doing all they can to support people who become unemployed back into work as quickly as possible. The strong foundations of our economy and labour market put us in the best possible position to get through the economic downturn. Not only is the economy better placed than in the past, but through Jobcentre Plus and the new deal we offer more support to individuals to help them move back into work.
To ensure that it is well placed to deal with an increase in unemployment, in the current financial year Jobcentre Plus is retaining staffing at the level used to prepare for the introduction of the employment and support allowance. This level of staffing, which is over 2,000 more than originally planned, will be kept under review.
For those affected by redundancy, we are doubling the resources available to the rapid response teams who offer advice and support to those affected by redundancy. This can include information about sources of alternative jobs within the labour market or help with applying for existing vacancies; on-site job shops and fairs; helping people draw up CVs or brush up their jobsearch skills; and, where appropriate, job-focused training to help individuals develop skills needed within the local labour market or other support to overcome barriers to taking up a specific job offer, such as travel to work expenses.
Jobcentre Plus is also launching a Find your way back to work campaign to help the newly unemployed; simplifying and streamlining its processes, for example by rolling out a new approach so that people can claim their benefits, tax credits and housing benefits at Jobcentre Plus in one visit; making its services more accessible to parents, for example by piloting from January a programme that will put a full-time Jobcentre Plus adviser in 30 childrens centres across ten local authorities; helping people with mortgages by bringing forward financial support from 39 to 13 weeks and increasing the capital amount on which support can be claimed to £200,000; and through Local Employment Partnerships, is working with employers across the country to help them meet their recruitment needs locally.
There are still many new job opportunities coming up all the time. Jobcentre Plus alone takes 10,000 new vacancies every working day, and many more come up
through other recruitment channels. Together with the advice and support provided through Jobcentre Plus, this means that most of those who become unemployed can find another job quickly: over half of new claimants leave jobseekers allowance within three months and around three quarters leave within six months.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people had their benefit reduced as a consequence of not taking a reasonable job offer in each of the last 10 years. 
|Number of varied length Jobseekers Allowance referrals, sanctioned for refusal of employment1 April 2000 to 31 March 2008|
1. Definitions and conventions: Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Data prior to April 2000 are not available.
DWP Information Directorate: Jobseekers Allowance Sanctions and Disallowance Decisions Statistics Database.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many work-focused interviews a claimant must attend in any one year in order to retain a benefit, broken down by the benefit claimed. 
Lone parents receiving income support attend a mandatory WFI at the point of claim and then six- monthly thereafter. In the year before they lose eligibility to income support based upon the age of the youngest child, the WFIs take place every three months to prepare them to move into work or transition on to another benefit.
Individuals receiving an incapacity benefit have the first WFI as soon as possible after week eight of the claim and then five more at monthly intervals. After the initial series of WFIs, claimants may have to attend further interviews when a life event occurs, for example a repeat medical assessment. They will also have to attend an interview if they have not had one for 36 months.
Those receiving employment and support allowance have the first WFI as soon as possible after week eight of the claim, the second at week 14, with four more usually at monthly intervals. After the initial series of WFIs, claimants may have to attend further interviews when a life event occurs, for example a repeat medical assessment. They will also have to attend an interview if they have not had one for 36 months.
Partners of benefit recipients where the main claimant receives income support, severe disablement allowance, incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance remain subject to a single WFI after six months of claiming. However, from April 2008 the frequency of mandatory WFIs for partners of jobseeker's allowance claimants who have children changed; these customers now have to attend a WFI every six months.
Those receiving jobseeker's allowance will have a WFI as part of the New Jobseeker interview at the start of the claim and all claimants will also receive a 13-week and a six-monthly interview. Those aged 18-24 are required to enter New Deal for Young People after six months on benefit. However, if the claimant is aged 25 and over they will be required to attend a WFI at 12 and 18 months before they are required to enter New Deal 25 Plus.
Jobseeker's allowance customers are also required to attend fortnightly jobsearch reviews, during which they are asked what steps they have taken to find work during the last two weeks. Weekly signing applies for the six week period following the WFI at the 13 weeks stage.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many employees have been offered early access under Jobcentre Plus's rapid response service to (a) work-based learning for adults, (b) programme centres and (c) rapid response service focused training (i) 12 weeks before the date of redundancy, (ii) between 12 weeks before the date of redundancy and the date of redundancy and (iii) between the date of redundancy and 12 weeks after that date. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many on-site advice surgeries Jobcentre Plus's rapid response service has carried out in each region in each year since it was established. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of bids for services from the rapid response service were (a) accepted and (b) rejected because of (i) lack of funding and (ii) the employer and employees not meeting the conditions in each region in each year since the service was established; and if he will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many and what proportion of bids for services from the rapid response service were (a) accepted and (b) rejected because of (i) lack of funding and (ii) the employer and employees not meeting the conditions in each region in each year since the service was established; and if he will make a statement. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Since April 2002 over 700 bids have been made for Rapid Response Services and all have been accepted.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps (a) Jobcentre Plus's rapid response service and (b) Jobcentre Plus staff take to identify companies with employees that may have benefited from the rapid response service. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what steps (a) Jobcentre Plus's Rapid Response Service and (b) Jobcentre Plus staff take to identify companies with employees that may have benefited from the Rapid Response Service. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus contacts and offers support to every employer who meets the statutory requirement to notify the Insolvency Service when making 20 people or more redundant. Since the announcement made by DWP on 12 November 2008, on the expansion of our Rapid Response Service, Jobcentre Plus also makes every effort to identify companies making fewer than 20 people redundant. Where identified these employers are also contacted and offered support wherever there is likely to be a significant impact on the particular local community.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been spent on advertising the services offered by Jobcentre Plus's rapid response service to employers in each year since it was established. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking:
how much Jobcentre Pluss Rapid Response Service has cost in each year since it was established, and;
how many full-time equivalent staff were working in JobCentre Pluss Rapid Response Service in each region in each year since it was established.
This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The table below provides a breakdown of the amount spent from the Rapid Response Service fund in each year since 2002-03. These figures reflect the expenditure required in each year to deliver effective support for redundancies. All requests for Rapid Response Service funding were met.
|Rapid Response Service Fund|
|Amount spent from Rapid Response Service Fund (£000)|
The Rapid Response Service brings together a number of functions that already exist within Jobcentre Plus, and the work required to deliver a Rapid Response Service is carried out by people who already carry out those functions. It is therefore not possible to separately identify the number of staff working on the Rapid Response Service. The demand for the Rapid Response Service varies to meet demand and, consequently, so too does the staffing used to deliver it.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by what means his Department has informed employers of the existence of Jobcentre Plus's rapid response service since it was established. 
Mr. McNulty: The Rapid Response Service was introduced in April 2002 and has been delivered through Jobcentre Plus in conjunction with a range of partners such as Regional Development Agencies and local authorities and skills agencies in England, Scotland and Wales to help employees facing redundancies.
1. Under current legislative processes, all employers making redundancies of 20 or more employees must contact the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR). Details of these companies are passed to Jobcentre Plus who then discuss their circumstances and the type of support that then need.
2. In addition, we provide information through channels that employers use regularly including: the Jobcentre Plus website
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