|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills when the Government plans to establish the Network Design and Procurement Group proposed in the Digital Britain Report; what estimate he has made of the annual running costs of the group; and from which of his Department's budgets he expects such costs to be met. 
Mr. McFadden: The Government plan to establish the Network Design and Procurement Group with the appointment of a CEO in October this year. We expect the group to be small, containing approximately four to five people. The running costs of the group have yet to be agreed but we expect to be in the region of £500,000 to £1 million per year, and will be funded from the overall budget for the delivery of the Universal Service Commitment and Next Generation proposals.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many Royal Mail post boxes there are in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland. 
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on how many occasions the South West Regional Economic Task Group has met; what timetable that group has set for future meetings; and whether the agendas and minutes of such meetings are published. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The South West Regional Economic Task Group has met on eight occasions since its establishment in November 2008. The group's next meeting will take place on Monday 20 July. Dates for future meetings are currently being arranged.
Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the likely effect on small and medium-sized businesses of the closure of Skillfast UK. 
Skillfast UK has been assessed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills against the standards set out in the Relicensing Framework for Sector Skills Councils. The UK Commission recommendation to Government that Skillfast UK has not met the standard required of an SSC is now the subject of an appeal by Skillfast UK. The UK Commission will provide further advice to Government on the outcome of the Skillfast UK appeal. In the event that an SSC did not have its licence renewed, it would be asked to work with the UK Commission to ensure that the skills needs of the sector in question continue to be met, including the needs of small and medium sized businesses. This would include access for employers to high quality labour market information about skills, and the continued
development of national occupational standards that underpin qualifications that meet both employer and individual needs.
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills when funding first became available under the Strategic Investment Fund; which Government bodies will administer the fund; what guidelines apply to the allocation of grants from the fund; how much has been allocated under the fund; and which organisations have received funding. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 12 June 2009]: In the Budget 2009, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the £750 million Strategic Investment Fund to support advanced industrial projects of strategic importance, of which £250 million has been ring fenced specifically for low carbon initiatives, a further £50 million for the Technology Strategy Board and £10 million to promote UK sector expertise through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).
The Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) will administer this fund; however the £250 million low carbon element will be allocated only to those initiatives that have been jointly agreed between BIS and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The aim of the fund is to help ensure that the UK remains well positioned to emerge from the economic downturn in a globally competitive position. All proposals will be appraised in line with Green Book principles, particularly to ensure that they provide good value for money in delivering longer term benefits to the UK economy, as well as ensuring there are clear delivery mechanisms and monitoring and evaluation procedures in place.
Work is moving at pace to agree how the money will be allocated. Investments will be prioritised on where there are economic opportunities for UK-based businesses and where government action can make a real and beneficial impact.
There are a number of proposals currently being considered to help deliver the Government's strategy as set out in the 'Building Britain's Future-New Industry New Jobs' document published on 20 April 2009. Within the context of that document the Government will be bringing forward more detailed statements of policy in the weeks and months ahead. A number of these may draw on the Strategic Investment Fund. Naturally, as these are strategic investment opportunities there will be a time lag between agreement of proposals and funds being spent.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many full-time students in receipt of student awards will experience a reduction in disposable income from the combined effects of the freeze in the level of awards and the annual uplift in tuition charges in the next academic year; and what his estimate is of the maximum amount of this reduction. 
Mr. Lammy: The uplift in tuition charges in the 2010-11 academic year will have no impact on disposable income for students in receipt of student support. The maximum tuition fee is set to increase by 2.04 per cent. in 2010-11 and the maximum tuition fee loan will increase by the same amount to reflect this rise. Therefore all students will continue to have the full cost of their tuition fees covered in the form of a tuition fee loan.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much money collected by HM Revenue and Customs for the Student Loans Company (SLC) has not been allocated by the SLC against individual accounts. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 7 July 2009]: HMRC has collected £1.623 billion in student loan repayments since income-contingent loans were introduced in 1998. As at 1 June 2009, the Student Loans Company (SLC) held £1.4 million which had not been applied to customers' accounts due to data matching issues. This figure covers the whole UK. SLC actively addresses this through managed processes to reconcile the repayments against the customers' accounts.
SLC does not record the subject of complaints in sufficient detail to provide the data requested in relation to complaints. SLC aims to respond to all letters of complaint within 10 working days of receipt.
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 11 June 2009]: The strategy group has been a working group rather than a formal committee. It has held regular discussions with stakeholders. The conclusions of the group are published in the final Digital Britain Report, published on 16 June 2009 at:
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of households on social telephony tariffs; and whether such households will be exempt from the proposed levy on fixed copper lines. 
Under existing rules any individual in receipt of income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, pensions credit (guaranteed credit) or employment and support allowance (income related) is entitled to social telephony. As set out in the Digital
Britain White Paper published on 16 June 2009 the Government do not wish to see a widening digital divide. Therefore the Government expect that individuals entitled to social telephony packages would also be exempt from the broadband levy to fund the deployment of next generation networks.
Under current records maintained by the independent telecoms regulator Ofcom, there are currently approximately 850,000 households on social telephony tariffs. The social telephony schemes from BT are available to those on income support, income-based job seeker's allowance, employment support allowance (income-rated) or guaranteed pensions credit.
Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many people resident in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point constituency have successfully completed a Train to Gain course. 
Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many residents of (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point constituency who have registered for Train to Gain courses have not yet commenced their training. 
Kevin Brennan: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) delivers the Train to Gain programme on behalf of the Department. It counts the number of learners who register for Train to Gain at the point where they formally start on programmes. However, there is no formal registration process before a learner starts and therefore no central mechanism is in place to measure the number of people registering an interest.
The LSC is working closely with providers to support ongoing new starts for the remainder of the 2008/09 academic year where providers are within their maximum contract value. Maximum contract values for 2009/10 academic year were finalised in June.
Peter Luff: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills when he expects to provide a substantive answer to question 278968 tabled on 8 June 2009 by the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire, on the role of the Enterprise Champion; what the reasons for the time taken are; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 2 July 2009]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 July 2009, Official Report, column 596W. The Department endeavours to answer parliamentary questions as quickly as possible and apologises for the delay on this occasion.