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27 Jan 2009 : Column 445W—continued

New Deal for Disabled People

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been spent on supporting people with a learning disability through the New Deal for Disabled People Programme in each year since its establishment. [247182]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 19 January 2009]: New deal for disabled people is a pan-disability programme open to incapacity benefit (and now employment and support allowance) customers, on a voluntary basis, with a range of health conditions or disabilities. Details of expenditure specifically related to people with a learning disability are not held.

We are working across Government to give people with learning disabilities the support they need to access work. The Getting A Life project, which is being trialled in 10 areas, is working to identify what needs to happen to ensure that young people with severe learning disabilities leave education and go on to achieve paid employment and full lives. The Government have also made a commitment in the New Opportunities White Paper to produce an employment strategy for people with learning disabilities. The strategy will be published in the spring.

Pension Credit: Fraud

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the cost to his Department of fraud and error in the pension credit system in each of the last three years. [248835]

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Mr. McNulty: DWP estimates for fraud and error in Pension Credit for 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 are contained in the DWP publications "Fraud and Error in the Benefit System April 2005 to March 2006: Spending Review 2004 target baseline", "Fraud and Error in the Benefit System: April 2006 to March 2007" and "Fraud and Error in the Benefit System: April 2007 to March 2008", copies of which are available in the Library.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's definition of poverty is. [250440]

Kitty Ussher: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) on 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 2419W.

Remploy: Consultants

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many external consultants Remploy engaged between April 2005 and April 2008; and at what total cost. [247868]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 15 January 2009]: The available information is in the following table.

Consultants engaged by Remploy

2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008

Number of consultancy companies




Cost (£)





Sabbatical Leave

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether employees on extended periods of sabbatical leave on part pay are deemed to be available for work during the sabbatical period. [251114]

Jonathan Shaw: Under jobseeker’s allowance legislation employees on periods of sabbatical leave on are not deemed to be available for work.

Social Security Benefits

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will make it his policy to collect information on the number of EU nationals who continue to receive UK benefits on their return from the UK to their country of origin; [246067]

(2) if he will make it his policy to collect information on expenditure on payment of benefits to people who are (a) not UK nationals and (b) not resident in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [246068]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 19 January 2009]: There are no current plans to collect the information in the format requested.

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Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking (a) to tackle benefit fraud and (b) to ensure that information about benefit fraudsters provided via public helplines is acted upon. [249301]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 19 January 2009]: The Government are committed to paying the right benefits to the right people at the right time. As part of that commitment we have specific strategies in place to tackle both fraud and error.

We have a well defined and successful strategy for tackling benefit fraud based on preventing, detecting and deterring fraud. Our current estimate for fraud across all benefits remains at its lowest ever level at 0.6 per cent. of benefit expenditure. This is down from 2 per cent. in 2000-01.

Our strategy initiatives include a hard hitting media campaign, cross checking information on benefit claims against other data sources as well as professionally qualified investigators. The Fraud Investigation Service ensures that the quality and professionalism of investigation is maintained to consistently high standards providing operational direction on all fraud related matters within the Department. Although the Fraud Investigation Service is managed under Jobcentre Plus, it provides fraud investigation for all the Departments benefits.

We also continue to develop innovative new measures such as data matching with credit reference agencies.

We are also toughening our sanctions regime by introducing a first-offence benefit penalty as part of the Welfare Reform Bill.

Every call to the national benefit fraud hotline is examined by the Department and where appropriate the case is then passed to either the Fraud Investigation Service for investigation or to compliance teams in Jobcentres, who will scrutinise the relevant benefit claim, interview the customer and make appropriate adjustments to entitlements.

In 2007-08 there were almost 250,000 referrals to the benefit fraud hotline by phone, via the internet and in writing, as a result of which nearly £18 million worth of recoverable overpayments were identified.

Take-up Task Force

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his Department’s press release of 5 January 2009 on the Take-up Taskforce, what steps he expects the Taskforce to take consequent upon the responses it received from local authorities. [249506]

Kitty Ussher: The Take Up Taskforce has issued a Call for Evidence of examples of good practice across the UK relating to increasing take-up of benefits and tax credits by parents. The deadline for local authorities and their partners to submit evidence is 20 February 2009.

The evidence will help to inform the Taskforce’s recommendations to Government on ways to help local services support parents to take up their benefit and tax
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credit entitlements, in order to contribute to tackling child poverty. Recommendations will be reported in spring 2009.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Adult Education: Finance

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the adult Learning and Skills Council budget for (a) Hertfordshire and (b) England was in the latest year for which figures are available. [249061]

Mr. Simon: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) budget for adult learning was set out in the latest grant letter to the LSC issued on 18 November 2008. For 2008-09 the budget is £4,275 million rising to £4,525 million in 2009-10.

The LSC makes decisions about allocations of funding to specific areas based on strategic discussions with FE Colleges and providers, partners and other organisations. This ensures that the needs of the local communities are met and that the activity delivered supports the council's key priorities and targets. Mark Haysom, the council's chief executive, will write to the hon. Gentleman with further information including the most up-to-date figures available for Hertfordshire. A copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.


Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of the current economic climate on the number of employers taking on new apprentices; [247551]

(2) how many apprentices have had their apprenticeships terminated by their employer in each (a) year from 1997 to 2002 and (b) month since January 2003. [247552]

Mr. Simon: Last year a record number of people started an apprenticeship: 225,000 in 2007/08. We recognise that the economic downturn means that some employers will recruit fewer apprentices but others expect to take on more than they do now. Last week the Prime Minster announced a £140 million package to provide an extra 35,000 apprenticeship places over the coming year. I am confident that by expanding the number of apprentices in new areas and increasing provision in the public sector we will continue to offer a high quality training opportunity for young people and adults. We do not hold data centrally about the number of apprentices who have had their apprenticeships terminated by their employer.

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many and what percentage of students entering (a) apprenticeships and (b) advanced apprenticeships were already in employment in each year since 1997. [249095]

Mr. Simon: Information on what route apprentices have come from is not currently available. However, a national apprenticeships vacancy matching service is being developed by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to provide a high quality service to employers wishing to recruit apprentices, and to young people and adults considering an apprenticeship. This service will
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help deliver the objective outlined in World-class Apprenticeships to expand and improve the quality of our apprenticeships programme. The service will be available across England by April 2009. Part of the future role of the service will be to provide the new National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) with management information on apprenticeships.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to encourage people to take up apprenticeships. [249842]

Mr. Simon: We are taking a wide range of steps to encourage more people to take up apprenticeships and to encourage more employers to offer high quality places. In 2007/08 we saw a record high 225,000 people starting an apprenticeship. We also believe apprenticeships can play a key role in our response to the current economic downturn. The Prime Minister recently announced a £140 million package to provide an extra 35,000 apprenticeship places over the coming year in both the public and private sectors to help strengthen the country's competitiveness.

On 12 January 2009 the new online National Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service went live. The first chief executive of the new National Apprenticeship Service takes up post on 2 February 2009 and our National Apprenticeship Service will be fully functional from 1 April 2009 with a remit to expand apprenticeships and provide a single point of contact for employers and apprentices. To raise awareness and encourage more employers to take on or offer more apprenticeships a new national advertising campaign will commence in February fronted by Sir Alan Sugar.

Our New Opportunities White Paper published 13 January 2009 announced the Government's commitment to extending group training associations; ensuring all apprentices have clear progression routes; and commitment to work towards an entitlement to an apprenticeship for all young people leaving care. Looking to the future, we have set ambitious targets for the growth of the apprenticeships programme. Apprenticeships provisions will be taken forward as part of the forthcoming Children, Skills and Learning Bill, including provisions to ensure that an apprenticeship place is available for all suitably qualified young people by 2013. The Education and Skills Act 2008 requires schools to provide impartial careers information, advice and guidance. The National Apprenticeship Service will support schools in providing advice on apprenticeships.


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills to which (a) charities and (b) voluntary organisations his Department has provided funding since it was established; and how much funding was provided to each. [247376] [Official Report, 3 November 2009, Vol. 498, c. 7MC.]

Mr. Simon: The Department makes payments to charities and voluntary bodies. However, to provide details on all of these would incur disproportionate cost.

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Funding provided to charities that received over £100,000 is as follows:

Name of body 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Royal Anniversary Trust(1)




National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)(3)




Social Mobility Foundation



UK Council for International Student Affairs




(1) Royal Anniversary Trust funding will be confirmed at year end
(2) Tbc
(3) NFER funding is year to date only

In addition there are several charitable bodies that are contracted to provide services for the Department, which makes the following payments:

Name of body 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Lifelong Learning UK
















(1) National Institute for Adult Continuing Education
(2) National Bureau for Students with Disabilities
(3) Prisoners Education Trust

Higher education institutions have charitable status and are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (a non-departmental public body of DIUS).

Some of the Department’s non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are registered charities. These NDPBs are contracted to provide agreed outcomes. The funding provided to these bodies by the Department and predecessor Departments are as follows:

Name of body 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Design Council




Quality Improvement Agency (QIA)



Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS)


QIA was part of the merger to form LSIS in October 2008; hence there are no figures for QIA in 2008-09.

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