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6 May 2009 : Column 320W—continued

Jobcentre Plus: Standards

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the performance of Jobcentre Plus in each (a) region and (b) Jobcentre Plus district against each of the indicators for its interventions delivery target (i) in each year since the target was launched and (ii) in each of the last 24 months. [264239]

Mr. McNulty: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

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Members: Correspondence

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to reply to the letter of 26 January from the hon. Member for Manchester Central regarding TW (ref: GREA01009/GAB); and what the reasons are for the time taken to respond. [272983]

Jonathan Shaw: A reply to my hon. Friend’s letter of 26 January regarding TW (ref: GREA01009/GAB) was given on 5 May 2009 and I apologise for the delay in doing so.

Social Security Benefits

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what explanatory and administrative provisions are in place to enable prospective eligible claimants to receive the £1,000 employer payment voucher available from Jobcentre Plus with effect from 6 April 2009; and if he will make a statement. [267461]

Mr. McNulty: Jobcentre Plus staff have been made fully aware of the £1,000 recruitment subsidy through a series of internal communications. Supporting guidance about how to appropriately promote and administer the recruitment subsidy from 6 April 2009 was issued on 23 March 2009.

Jobcentre Plus staff will promote the offer to eligible customers, as appropriate, and issue them with a voucher which they can use to approach employers seeking new employees. In addition, Jobcentre Plus is promoting the £1,000 offer to employers through an initial burst of media advertising across both print and online channels.
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This will take place from 6 April until 14 May and will feature in selected national press, trade publications and key business websites. All advertising will direct employers to go online to

to receive more information on the offer.

In addition to this Jobcentre Plus have identified a list of key partner websites including Business Link, Train to Gain, and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, where messages to promote the offer will be held, alongside signposting back to the Jobcentre Plus site.

All activity and take-up of the offer will be monitored and evaluated during May with a view to developing further plans to promote the offer if required.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what discussions he has had with scientists working in the field of voice risk analysis technology on the accuracy of the technology being used by his Department to differentiate between high and low risk claims; and what use he has made of independent scientific evidence when evaluating the system; [265603]

(2) what assessment he has made of the accuracy of voice risk analysis technology in recognising high-risk groups; and what estimate he has made of the level of risk of false positives arising from the use of voice risk analysis technology in relation to elderly callers; [265604]

(3) pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 11 March 2009, Official Report, columns 19-20WS, on voice risk analysis, whether the technology being tested by his Department has been independently evaluated; what use has been made of control groups in which telephone advisers have not been using the technology in evaluating the results of the pilots; and if he will make a statement. [265692]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department’s evaluation of Voice Risk Analysis technology makes use of previously published research to help test the process and interpret the results.

The Department has not entered into discussions with scientists outside of government at this stage.

The Department has recently made available estimates of the accuracy of the process in recognising both high-risk and low-risk groups. I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement of 11 March 2009, Official Report, columns 19-20WS.

Analysis of the accuracy of the Voice Risk Analysis process amongst elderly callers has not been conducted as yet. Should the Voice Risk Analysis process demonstrate acceptable rates of accuracy in the general population, further work will be undertaken to assess accuracy with respect to differing demographic groups. The data from the phase two local authority trials will enable the Department to assess the risk of false positives in relation to elderly callers.

The Department has not commissioned independent experts to evaluate Voice Risk Analysis. The Department's evaluation is being conducted by Government Statisticians who are required to offer independent advice to support the policy formulation.

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The Department’s evaluation assesses the accuracy of the Voice Risk Analysis process by comparing the risk found in both ‘low’ and ‘high’ risk groups and not through control groups. If the technology is effective, the rate of incorrectness of benefits in the ‘high’ risk group should be substantially higher than that in the ‘low’ risk group. This assessment of the difference between the two groups is supported by a range of statistical tests. This is an accepted technique for assessing the accuracy of this type of technology that does not rely on a separate control group.

Unemployed: Hertfordshire

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many unemployed people in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire Jobcentre Plus were assisted into employment in each of the last five years. [265803]

Mr. McNulty: The available information is in the following table.

Number of job seeker's allowance claimants who returned to work

April 2004 to March 2005 April 2005 to March 2006 April 2006 to March 2007 April 2007 to March 2008 April 2008 to March 2009

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire (JCP district)






Hemel Hempstead (parliamentary constituency)






1. Number off-flows moving into employment include claimants who increased their employment hours beyond 16 per week.
2. This information is published on the Nomis website at
3. The percentage of people leaving with an unknown destination recorded has increased over the last 10 years. This is because the completion levels of the JSA40 (forms filled in by people leaving Jobseeker's Allowance) have decreased over this period. This should be taken into account when interpreting these statistics, as many of these ‘unknown’ leavers will have moved into employment or other benefits.
Count of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus computer systems (computer held cases only)

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Unemployment: Coastal Areas

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will bring forward proposals to address seasonal unemployment fluctuation in seaside towns; and if he will make a statement. [262997]

Mr. McNulty: Analysis carried out in response to the 2007 CLG Select Committee report on coastal towns showed that seasonal work accounted for less than 1 per cent. of total employment in coastal towns, ranging from a low of 0.4 per cent. of employment in winter to at most 1.7 per cent. in the summer months.

The extent to which seasonal employment affects coastal towns varies across areas, reflecting their differing labour market characteristics. This underlines the need for local and regional interventions which are sensitive to local requirements and their interrelationships with the surrounding areas.

Regional Development Agencies are supporting coastal towns through their regional economic strategies with a wider focus on the broader objectives of addressing employment, enterprise and skills in coastal areas.

Where seasonal employment is a key driver of the local economy this needs to be considered as part of the wider regeneration and economic development of the local area and inform the regional economic strategy and local area agreement process.

The Department for Work and Pensions, through Jobcentre Plus, provides a national system of help and support to those affected by unemployment, wherever they live. People are able to make use of the job matching service available through local Jobcentre Plus offices or the internet. Fast track access to more intensive support is available to individuals facing particular labour market disadvantages and tailored help is available through the New Deal and Pathways to Work programmes for those claiming other welfare benefits, such as lone parents or those with a health problem or disability.

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