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11 May 2009 : Column 566W—continued


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research the Government have funded into the consequences of long-term exposure to asbestos. [272572]

Jonathan Shaw: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) maintains a longstanding and continuing programme of research into the health effects of asbestos exposure.

Since 1968 the HSE has maintained the Great Britain Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Registers which document annual deaths from these conditions giving vital data for research.

Since the early 1970s HSE has maintained a long term research study of more specific groups of workers in the British asbestos manufacturing industry, now including the current asbestos removals industry, to monitor their long term health status, in particular, their cancer and mortality rates, and to evaluate the effectiveness of legislation protecting their health.

Most recently the HSE (with Cancer Research UK) commissioned Professor Julian Peto of the Institute of Cancer Research to measure the lung asbestos content in individuals with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, and those with and without it, including young men only potentially exposed more recently, to better assess the level of past exposure associated with disease and predict the future impact of current exposures. This follows HSE-funded research by Professor Peto on mesothelioma risk in specific occupations and from other potential sources of exposure.

The programme enables the HSE to document and predict overall trends in the occurrence of key asbestos related diseases; identify changing patterns of occupational risk; monitor the long term health of those working in occupations covered by legislation on asbestos exposure at work; collate scientific information to improve knowledge about risk from different types of asbestos and at different exposures; and improve, and evaluate preventive measures.

Further details of the HSE's research programme are available from the HSE website.

Departmental ICT

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the estimated cost overrun is for each IT project being undertaken by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies which is subject to a cost overrun. [270221]

Jonathan Shaw: Although the Department does not have any discrete IT projects, it has a number of projects and programmes that include changes to, or new, IT to a greater or lesser extent. The following table includes:

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Table 1: Projects with cost overruns in current DWP IT Portfolio
£ million
Project Lead - Department or Agency Planned c osts (i) Estimated cost on completion (ii) Cost overrun (iii)

Central Payments System





Customer Information System

Pension, Disability and Carers Service




Document Repository Service

Pension, Disability and Carers Service




Employment and Support Allowance

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) benefits and (b) other concessions are available to those eligible for the income-related employment support allowance; if he will make it his policy to adjust the payment of contributory employment support allowance to allow eligibility for income-related employment support allowance; and if he will make a statement. [262548]

Mr. McNulty: People on income-related employment and support allowance are automatically passported to a range of support, including the maximum levels of housing benefit and council tax benefit, free prescriptions and dental care. In addition they are eligible for a wide range of help from the Social Fund.

Customers in receipt of contributory Employment and Support Allowance only are not automatically entitled to passported benefits, but are able to apply separately, under low income schemes, for most benefits that are passported.

We will continue to keep the policy under review.

Employment and Support Allowance: Telephone Services

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons his Department decided to use an 0845 telephone number for queries from applicants for employment and support allowance; what alternatives there are to the service; and if he will make a statement. [265969]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 24 March 2009]: Inquiries about employment and support allowance use the same modem telephony infrastructure as do inquiries to other DWP services. This ensures that we can satisfy our customers’ needs in an effective and efficient way.

DWP’s executive team agreed last year that initial calls to inquire about and claim benefit should be free, so we should use 0800 numbers to ensure that the most important—and longest—calls are free to the majority of our customers. Subsequent calls for other reasons, such as offering further information or progress on the claim, take less time to resolve and should be charged at a standard rate for the majority of customers, so we should use 0845 numbers.

The telephony market is constantly changing but it would be unreasonable to expect customers to continually keep up with alterations to our telephone numbering in order to allow us to match the latest pricing by different service operators. Costs of calling 0845 numbers remain lower than many alternatives, but we keep the market under review. Using BT landlines to call 0845 numbers is usually the lowest cost option. BT account for two-thirds of landline provision and recent research shows that over 80 per cent. of our customers contact us using landlines. Therefore, we concluded that 0845 numbers offered the best solution for the majority of our customers. The Department receives no revenue from use of any of our numbers, including 0845.

Alternatives to the service are for the customer to use the free phones provided in jobcentres to make inquiries. In the event the jobcentre does not have a free phone available, local arrangements are in place to provide the customer with the opportunity to use a standard Jobcentre Plus phone.

Where a customer is unable to use a landline and asks for us to call them back we will always do so.

Employment Schemes

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance Jobcentre Plus has given to personal advisers on identifying employers eligible for payments under the employers' golden hello scheme announced by his Department on 12 January 2009; and if he will place in the Library a copy of such guidance. [269013]

Mr. McNulty: All employers are eligible to claim the recruitment subsidy element of the six-month offer, announced on 12 January, as long as they agree to the terms and conditions for receiving the payment. A copy of these terms and conditions has been placed in the Library

Employment Services

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent steps his Department has taken to assist skilled long-term unemployed persons to gain access to re-training and new employment opportunities. [270925]

Mr. McNulty: The Budget has made an additional £2.8 billion available to DWP, on top of the £1.3 billion funding announced in the pre-Budget report, which will ensure that over the next two years we can continue to expand our support to jobseekers through the economic downturn. Among other initiatives, this extra funding will enable us to guarantee a job or other meaningful activity to young people and certain disadvantaged groups from the 12-month point of their claim.

The Government are investing £0.5 billion over two years to support people through an expanded range of work and training options to provide jobs through recruitment subsidies, support to start a business, work-related training and volunteering opportunities. This extra help was introduced on 6 April and is available to all those who have been out of work and claiming jobseeker’s allowance for six months or more.

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Jobseeker’s allowance customers can train for up to 16 hours per week alongside active job search. Jobseekers may also undertake up to two weeks of full-time training in any 12-month period, without jeopardising their benefit entitlements. Additionally, from 6 April, anyone who has been unemployed and claiming benefits for more than six months can study full time for up to eight weeks on a job-related training course approved by an employment adviser.

The introduction of the flexible new deal in phase 1 areas from October will establish a new, unified approach for longer-term jobseekers, whatever their age, skills or barriers to work. The flexible new deal will deliver
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work-focused support, tailored to each individual’s needs and local labour market requirements.

Foreign Workers

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many national insurance numbers were issued to adult (a) non-UK EU nationals and (b) non-EU nationals in the latest year for which figures are available. [253988]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 3 February 2009]: The available information is in the following table.

National insurance number registrations to adult overseas nationals entering the UK, by quarter of registration and EU/non-EU status

EU nationals Non-EU nationals

October 2007 to December 2007



January 2008 to March 2008



April 2008 to June 2008



July 2008 to September 2008



1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 and displayed in thousands.
2. There are a small number of registrations where citizens' nationalities are unknown, these are not included.
3. Registration date is derived from the date at which a national insurance number is entered on the National Insurance Recording System
4. When presenting the EU time series, countries which joined the EU during time series have been included in the EU for the whole of the time series, to facilitate comparisons over time.
5. Bulgaria and Romania are listed as EU accession states for the entire time series. The EU total includes the accession states.
6. The EU time series excludes national insurance numbers registered to UK nationals.
100 per cent. extract from National Insurance Recording System

Funeral Payments

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support his Department provides for payments for the funeral expenses for the late husband of a woman aged under 30 years old in full-time education with no household income; and if he will make a statement. [271675]

Kitty Ussher: In order to be eligible to receive a funeral payment from the social fund in these circumstances, the woman must have an award of one of the qualifying benefits or tax credits in respect of the date of claim. The qualifying benefits and tax credits are:

A funeral payment can be claimed from the date of death up until three months after the funeral.

In addition, a surviving spouse or civil partner in the circumstances described may be entitled to claim one or more of the following benefits: bereavement payment—a lump sum payment of £2,000 payable immediately to help with costs arising on bereavement; widowed parent's allowance—a weekly benefit payable to widowed parents and surviving civil partners with responsibility for dependant child or children.

Entitlement conditions for these bereavement benefits are based on the national insurance record of the late spouse or deceased civil partner. Bereavement benefits are payable to both men and women who satisfy the qualifying conditions.

Incapacity Benefit: Arthritis

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many incapacity benefit claimants had a recorded diagnosis which was or included rheumatoid arthritis in each of the last five years; and how much was paid in such benefits to such claimants in each of these years. [270500]

Jonathan Shaw: Rheumatoid arthritis does not of itself confer entitlement to incapacity benefits. Until October 2008 the medical assessment of incapacity for work was the personal capability assessment. This assesses the effects of a person’s condition on their ability to carry out a number of everyday activities relevant to work.

The information requested is in the following table.

Estimated incapacity benefits expenditure on claimants whose diagnosis includes rheumatoid arthritis (nominal terms)

£ million











1. Incapacity benefits includes incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance payable to working-aged adults.
2. Figures also include incapacity related income support expenditure for incapacity benefit claimants. Expenditure figures are rounded to the nearest £ million.
3. Estimates are based on information from the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study and published DWP benefit expenditure tables.
4. DWP benefit expenditure tables can be accessed at:

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Estimated incapacity benefits caseloads of claimants whose diagnosis includes rheumatoid arthritis (nominal terms)
As at August each year All











1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Causes of incapacity are based on the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision, published by the World Health Organisation.
3. To qualify for incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance, claimants have to undertake a medical assessment of incapacity for work called the personal capability assessment. Therefore, the medical condition recorded on the claim form does not itself confer entitlement to benefit.
DWP Longitudinal Study

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