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|10-day performance target|
Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in her Department were employed on the management of freedom of information requests submitted to her Department in each year since 2005; and how much her Department spent on the management of such requests in each such year. 
Jim Knight: Freedom of information within my Department is overseen by a central team consisting of four full-time staff dedicated to freedom of information (FoI). This team is supported by a network of business unit Focal Points who coordinate and allocate those requests for information that fall outside normal business and which are dealt with formally under the FoI Act. The FoI focal points are spread across all the Department's key business units and FoI is only part of their duties. It is not possible to disaggregate the time and cost incurred in discharging their FoI responsibilities.
Jim Knight: In the DWP, special advisers are not provided with an allocated Government car and driver. As with all civil servants, special advisers may use an official car or taxi in properly defined circumstances. Details of such use is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) average time to answer a
call, (b) average waiting time for a client during a call, (c) percentage of calls dropped or not answered and (d) average length of a call was in a call centre run by her Department and each of its agencies in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Jim Knight: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) operates through two main customer delivery businesses; Jobcentre Plus and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service (PDCS). Figures are provided for the contact centres run by each of these businesses.
|Jobcentre Plus contact centre directorate service lines|
|Pension, Disability and Carers Service|
|PDCS call centre information: 1 April 2009 to date||Helpline||BEL||CA||Pensions|
|(1) To fully calculate the average waiting time for a customer during a call would properly include the time spent by customers who terminate their call before they are connected to an agent. The management information available to calculate this is only held locally and is insufficiently robust for the purposes of answering a Parliamentary Question.|
1. Prior to a call being answered by an advisor, the customer is initially presented with a recorded message. Following the end of that message, the customer's call is then directed into a queue for answer. The average time to answer a call is calculated from the point that the call joins the queue for answer.
2. All timings are provided in minutes and seconds.
Pension data: Avaya and Opmis M1 systems.
Helpline/BEL/Carers data: Opmis M1 system.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether an assessment has been made of the level of failure demand in call centres run by her Department and each of its agencies. 
Jim Knight: The Department makes regular assessments of the levels of avoidable contact, most recently through a survey conducted in February 2009. Results from the survey are shown in the following table.
|Million per year|
|Total calls received||Avoidable calls received|
1. Annual volumes are based on extrapolation from a sample survey taken in February 2009.
2. Figures exclude calls to Jobcentres as these are not run as call centres.
3. Avoidable contact is "contact that adds no value to the outcome. It includes contact that is nugatory, duplicative or caused by failures in business processes." Avoidable contacts can include wrong numbers, progress chasing calls and calls for clarification.
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the advertising, public relations, publicity and marketing budget for DirectGov (a) was in 2007-08, (b) was in 2008-09 and (c) is in 2009-10. 
Jim Knight: Expenditure for advertising, public relations, publicity and marketing was £2,908,737 in financial year 2007-08 and £7,481,309 in financial year 2008-09. The budget for financial year 2009-10 is £3,250,000, well under 0.1 per cent of departmental expenditure.
On 28 January 2009 Elektron Instruments notified Jobcentre Plus that they were planning to make 35 of their 136 employees in Torquay redundant. These were mainly semi-skilled print setters who had been with the company for a long time. They would be going
in two 'waves', the first on 27 February 2009 and the second on 27 March 2009. This number was later reduced to 25.
We contacted the company the same day, and offered to give redundancy talks to those employees affected under the Rapid Response Scheme. The talks would cover an overview of how to claim benefit, the work we do with partner organisations and help jobseekers find work. They also signpost the Learning and Skills Council provision and make information and leaflets available. The aim is to help minimise some of the apprehension and prepare people for their first contact with Jobcentre Plus, especially if they have not claimed benefit for some time.
We have established an excellent relationship with the company. They have been reducing gradually over the year, and they have contacted us each time they have been planning on making further reductions in staff to ask for the Rapid Response Scheme talks for the employees affected.
The company last contacted us on 26 October 2009 to notify that 12 more people had been put under notice. Our Rapid Response Scheme manager has arranged to talk to the outgoing employees on 18 November 2009.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have been in receipt of a training allowance (a) in each year since 1997 and (b) in each month of the last two years. 
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made towards fulfilling the guarantee that any person moving from welfare into work will be better off. 
Jim Knight: The combination of the national minimum wage, tax credits, and the other forms of in-work support we have introduced ensures that work pays for the vast majority of people under the current tax and benefit systems. In particular, lone parents and disabled people have an income that is significantly higher in work than on the out-of-work benefits.
Parents living in rented accommodation who are moving into work are seeing a significantly increased gain to work as a result of changes introduced on 2 November 2009. From this date, child benefit, which had been treated as income in working out entitlement to housing benefit and council tax benefit has been fully disregarded. The effect has been to increase the gain to work for a family with one child by up to £17 per week.
In addition, for the last year, we have been piloting a Better Off in Work Credit. The aim of this credit was to reassure our customers that moving into work would be financially beneficial and to encourage them to look for and start work. The pilot ended on 30 October 2009. We are now evaluating the impact of this credit.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of the clients who have participated in the (a) Project Search and (b) Getting a Life programmes have achieved sustained employment; what estimate she has made of the average cost to each programme of each such job outcome; and what plans her Department has for the future operation of each such programme. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 26 October 2009]: The Government are not currently operating Project Search. However, sites are in operation in Norwich, Leicester and Bath under individual agreements between each site and Project Search USA. We do not routinely collect any information on the costs or outcomes in any of these sites.
The launch of the learning disability employment strategy Valuing Employment Now on 24 June announced that the Government was inviting proposals from local partnerships interested in running Project Search and taking part in a Government evaluation of the model. We are currently selecting sites to run the model from September 2010.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent guidance has been issued to staff at Jobcentre Plus on assisting people diagnosed with autism into work; and if she will make a statement. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 9 November 2009]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive, Mel Groves. I have asked him to reply to the hon. member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about what recent guidance has been issued to staff at Jobcentre Plus on assisting people diagnosed with autism into work. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus policy is to develop its staff in the skills required to support a range of customers and to respect their individual needs, including those related autism. This approach ensures that they are equipped to deal with a diverse set of circumstances whilst treating customers as individuals. Skilled employment advisors look at the interaction between the person, the job and the person's ability. Advisors ensure that job goals relate to the person's abilities and that relevant solutions are identified in order to overcome any barriers a customer might face in a particular job.
Jobcentre Plus advisors are introduced to "guide notes" as part of their training, which include background information on a number of conditions, including autism, the implications for interviews and how to use questioning techniques in order to support customers. Disability Employment Advisors focus on customers that need more extensive support and receive further
levels of skills training appropriate to their customers, including skills practice in interviewing an autistic person to drive home learning points.
In May 2009, Jobcentre Plus advisors were issued with a reminder, specifically about the information on autism that is held on our intranet site, to help reinforce the learning they have already undertaken to assist people with autism into work. Advisors were also reminded that Access to Work may be able to support autistic customers who are starting a job, by providing a job coach for a short period, or autism awareness training to the customer's colleagues. We are currently reviewing how Access to Work support can be improved and any resulting changes will benefit autistic people.
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