Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children in Wansbeck constituency are eligible to receive a £250 voucher to open a child trust fund account; and how many such accounts have been opened by parents or guardians in the last 12 months. 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many times he has visited (a) the United States, (b) Strasbourg, (c) the Hague and (d) Brussels on official business in the last 12 months. 
Jonathan Shaw: Of the countries mentioned, the Secretary of State has only visited the United States on official business. He went once in March to meet a range of welfare service providers and experts.
|As at April each year||External posts||Internal posts||Total|
The director positions counted for the purpose of this PQ response are SCS pay band 2 and SCS pay band 3 only.
Jonathan Shaw: Under the Service Transformation Agreement, 95 per cent. of citizen facing services are to converge on to Directgov by 2011 and the remainder shortly thereafter. Directgov has a transactions strategy that describes different methods of integrating transactions and, depending on the transaction, the appropriate method will be applied.
Money claim online: March 2009
Retirement Age calculator: September 2009
e-BOC (better off calculator): March 2010
About my benefits (My DWP): September 2009
Get a State Pension Forecast (pension estimator): September 2009
Pension credit calculator: September 2009
Tax ReturnSelf Assessment online: September 2009
Offshore voluntary disclosure: March 2010
SA payment online: March 2010
Company car and fuel benefit calculator: March 2010
National Insurance calculator: March 2010
National Insurance CalculatorDirector: March 2010
PA YE tax calculator: March 2010
R85 checker: March 2010
Student tax checker: March 2010
Child Benefit Application: March 2010
Inheritance Tax calculator: March 2010
Taxable value of guaranteed annuity calculator: March 2010
Pay adjustments: March 2010
Lloyds calculator: March 2010
Warm front grant (Registration/application): March 2011
Child Benefit online serviceHMRC website: March 2010
Jonathan Shaw: The effectiveness of Directgovs CRM system was reviewed during the first quarter of this year as part of a capability model review. A further review is planned to be carried out during Q2 2009 to ensure that the citizens needs continue to be met and the CRM remains robust enough to meet the demands of the Governments website convergence programme.
Jonathan Shaw: Starting in January 2009, we will be conducting a trial of a hyperlink between the Directgov website and MySocietys FixMyStreet.com. The trial will run for up to three months, against a set of agreed evaluation criteria, and will allow us to gather evidence of the benefits and issues arising from associations between services of this nature and Governments digital channels. This evidence will be used to inform future development decisions.
Jonathan Shaw: Directgov has a working strategy document. We aim to place a summary of our strategy in the House in January. Our full strategy document is a living document and is currently under review; this will also be made available in January.
Jonathan Shaw: A pilot to examine how users could be allowed to rate content pages on the Directgov website is currently being developed to run from January 2009. If successful, the aim is to introduce the service during a scheduled release of the Directgov website during Q2 of FY 2009-10.
Mr. Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will consider the merits of bringing forward procedures to allow people to participate in online conversations on Government consultations that are listed on the Direct.gov website. 
Details of the latest public consultations are also provided. Citizens can also find out about consultations in their area where searching by postcode, street and town or local authority will take them direct to the consultations page on the relevant local authority website. An enhanced consultations index is planned for delivery by mid-2009.
At present, all consultations are hosted by individual departments and it is for those Departments to determine how the public are engaged in that consultation. Directgov
has agreed to host cross-government consultations in the future and we are working with Cabinet Office on how best to do this.
Forum functionality could be used to enable people to participate in online conversations on Government consultations. Directgov has future plans to add forum functionality to our web platform. We will consider the merits of bringing forward the implementation of this, although it will be for individual Departments to agree as to how this will be used with their own consultations.
Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to assist (a) lone parents and (b) people with disabilities to (i) prepare for and (ii) obtain work. 
Jonathan Shaw: Lone parents have access to a comprehensive package of measures via new deal for lone parents or new deal plus for lone parents pilots to encourage them to improve their employment opportunities and gain independence through working.
We have also introduced additional pre and post employment support to help more lone parents move into and remain in work. This includes: increasing work trials from three to up to six weeks; options and choices events and rolling out nationally in work credit, an in work discretion fund and in work advisory support.
From October 2008 incapacity benefits were replaced for new customers by employment and support allowance with a revised medical assessment which focuses on what people can do, as well as what they cannot. To underpin the new more work-focused system we have made Pathways to Work support available to everyone receiving incapacity benefits, and in the future employment and support allowance.
Specialist disability employment services also enable many thousands of disabled people to lead fulfilling working lives, people who may otherwise be excluded from the workplace. We have carried out a major review of the specialist disability employment services. The public consultation ran between 3 December 2007 and 10 March 2008 and sets out how we think we can improve these services to help more disabled people.
The consultation also set out proposals for a new programme to replace Workstep, Work Preparation and the Job Introduction Scheme, and proposals for an enhanced role for Disability Employment Advisers. The Welfare Reform Green Paper No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility, Cm 7363, said that we would implement these improvements to services. The Green Paper also said that we would double, by 2013/14, the budget for Access to Work. As a consequence of these changes, we will be able to help greater numbers of disabled people prepare for, take up and retain paid work.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children in families in work which were earning less than the average national weekly income there were in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: We provide information which helps customers choose the account which best meets their needs and circumstances, including making the Post Office card account easily available to those who need it. And more than 10,000 new Post Office card accounts are opened on average each month.
We have already made changes to the booklet being sent to existing cheque customers so that it explicitly refers to the Post Office card account. We have also updated the messages that staff use when speaking to customers to reflect the fact that the Post Office card account will now continue until at least 2015. Other communications material will be kept under review.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the Statement of 13 November 2008, Official Report, columns 967-68, on Post Office card account, what estimate he has made of the level of reasonable costs for which the Government will provide compensation to unsuccessful bidders. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: We are currently discussing with the other bidders who were still in the competition at the point at which it was halted the details of their reasonable bid costs to be reimbursed. The precise amounts payable are still to be decided and will be subject to commercial confidentiality.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what legal requirements applied to (a) the decision to put the Post Office card account contract out to tender and (b) the ending of the tender process and the award of the contract to Post Office Limited. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 8 December 2008]: The decisions to put the contract out to tender, and the decision to end the tender process, were taken in accordance with domestic and European Union law, including the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 and EU Directive 2004/18/EC.
Ms Rosie Winterton: We are currently discussing with the other bidders who were still in the competition at the point at which it was halted the details of their reasonable bid costs to be reimbursed.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons the Government has concluded that the cancellation of the Post Office Card Account contract tender process does not require the agreement of the European Commission. 
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