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Employers Liability

Ian Murray: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take on the establishment of an Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO); when he expects the ELTO to (a) be established and (b) become operational; whether he plans to publish the outcomes of his Department’s consultation on ELTO; and if he will make a statement. [51819]

Chris Grayling: There were two proposals in the consultation; firstly an Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO), that would manage a database of Employer Liability policies. Secondly, an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau which would be a compensation fund of last resort for those individuals who are unable to trace EL insurance records.

The Association of British Insurers has been working to establish an ELTO which is due to go live this spring.

I appreciate that the Government’s response to the consultation is taking longer to publish than we had hoped for. However the issues raised are complex and to ensure we get this right we have been in active discussions with all stakeholders since the public consultation closed.

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We are still carefully considering how to progress the matter to achieve an appropriate outcome and we will bring forward our proposals in due course.

Employment and Support Allowance

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of employment and support allowance claimants were in (a) the work-related activity group and (b) the support group in (i) February and (ii) May 2009. [46503]

Maria Miller: Information on the number and proportion of employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants by Phase/Stage of claim is not available for the periods February 2009 and May 2009.

Figures for Phase/Stage of claim are only available from February 2010 onwards.

For the right hon. Gentleman’s information, the February 2010 and May 2010 figures are shown in the following table.

Number and proportion of employment and support allowance claimants in the work-related activity group and support group

Total number of ESA claimants Percentage of ESA claimants in work-related activity group Percentage of ESA claimants in support group

February 2010

479,430

16.9

6.4

May 2010

527,120

20.7

7.4

Notes: 1. Employment and support allowance (ESA) replaced incapacity benefit for new claims from 27 October 2008. 2. The phase is derived from payment details held on the source system. Where the claimant is not in receipt of any benefit payment then the stage of benefit is shown as unknown. 3. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10; percentages are rounded to one decimal place. Source: DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the potential savings to his Department of setting the maximum length of claim for employment and support allowance at (a) one and (b) two years. [47019]

Maria Miller: As part of The Welfare Reform Bill we intend to introduce a one-year time limit to contributory employment support allowance for those in the Work Related Activity Group. This change will be introduced in April 2012 and will have an immediate effect on people who are currently claiming contributory employment and support allowance as well as new claims.

People in the Support Group will not have their benefit time limited because they have the most severe health conditions or disabilities and are the least likely to move into work.

People receiving income-related employment and support allowance will not have their benefit time limited.

The details for this measure can be found in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which can be accessed via the following link:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/esa-time-limit-wr2011-ia.pdf

We are unable to estimate the savings for such measures as they would depend upon the costs of any additional support mechanisms that would need to be put in place

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to avoid leaving people with no access to the benefits system, and any savings would also be dependent on the introduction of universal credit.

Employment and Support Allowance: Cancer

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost to his Department of requiring employment and support allowance claimants who are cancer patients in receipt of oral chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment to undertake work capability assessments in each of the next four years. [47014]

Maria Miller: The National Statistics datasets on employment and support allowance claimants do not contain any information about whether cancer patients are receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The information requested cannot therefore be provided.

Statistics on employment and support allowance claimants by duration of claim and medical condition data are available and these are published on the Department’s website at:

http://83.244.183.180/100pc/tabtool.html

Employment Schemes

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) enterprise clubs and (b) work clubs are planned for each (i) region, (ii) local authority area and (iii) parliamentary constituency. [51781]

Chris Grayling: Work Clubs and Enterprise Clubs are designed and delivered locally with some support from Jobcentre Plus. We do not set specific expectations or targets for the number of Work Clubs or Enterprise Clubs, allowing them instead to grow organically in communities, making the best use of local energy, expertise and resources. The data requested are therefore not available.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what budget his Department has allocated to support (a) enterprise clubs and (b) work clubs in 2011-12. [51782]

Chris Grayling: In the Budget we announced an extension of funding aimed to support those interested in setting up a Work Club or an Enterprise Club, increasing the amount available to £3 million in 2011-12.

Employment Schemes: Bassetlaw

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many places on employment schemes other than Remploy supported by his Department are available in Bassetlaw constituency. [51452]

Chris Grayling: The bulk of the employment programme provision funded by the Department for Work and Pensions is based on the need for employment support, rather than on a fixed number of places. When the new Work programme is introduced over the summer there should be a place for everyone meeting the eligibility criteria.

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Employment Schemes: Hearing Impairment

Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what provisions will be made for deaf people under the Government's Work programme proposals. [52133]

Chris Grayling: The Work programme will cater for a wide range of customer groups, including many with disabilities and health issues.

Harder to help customers will be able to access the programme early if appropriate and we will pay providers more to support them. For example, if a provider supports a customer moving from incapacity benefits to employment and support allowance into sustained employment, they can earn almost £14,000.

We have not told providers what they must do to support customers except that they should provide a truly personalised service that addresses their customers' specific challenges. They will be free to innovate to find new and more effective ways of overcoming a range of disadvantages, including disabilities.

Many customers with disabilities are eligible for in work support through Access to Work, and those referred to the Work programme will remain eligible for the elements of this which providers could not reasonably be expected to offer.

Employment and Support Allowance: Multiple Sclerosis

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether people with multiple sclerosis will exempted from the new employment support allowance assessment. [51671]

Chris Grayling: We are committed to supporting those who cannot work because of a health condition or disability, but we also want to help as many people as possible to find suitable work.

Entitlement to employment and support allowance (ESA) is based on an individual's functional ability rather than the condition itself. Therefore, we have no plans to automatically exempt individuals with multiple sclerosis from the ESA assessment.

However, we recognise that asking customers to attend an unnecessary examination is in no one's interests. For new claims where an individual's condition is likely to qualify them for the ESA support group, or as part of the incapacity benefits reassessment process where entitlement criteria continues to be met, health care professionals will advise where possible on the basis of paper based evidence, thereby avoiding the need for a face to face assessment.

Health and Safety Executive

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance LAC 5/19 applies to (a) school staff and (b) school children; and whether the HSE has considered amending the guidance in the light of (i) the Supreme Court judgment in Knowsley Metropolitan borough council v. Willmore and (ii) the conclusions of the Government advisory committee on risks from low level exposure to asbestos. [51981]

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Chris Grayling: Local authority circular (LAC) 5/19 provides technical guidance and is not school specific. In it HSE gives advice to local authority regulators and others on the risks from asbestos to enable them to answer inquiries about possible or inadvertent exposures. It includes generic advice for employers, employees and members of the public. To that extent school staff and school children, who may be inadvertently exposed if all the required systems fail to prevent significant exposures, are covered by the advice in the LAC.

There are no plans to revise the LAC as a direct result of the discussions of the HSE’s independent advisory committee WATCH (Working Group on the Assessment of Toxic Chemicals). It has been established for some time that the lower the exposure to asbestos, the lower the risk of disease, and that based on current evidence it is not possible to identify safe thresholds. The LAC’s medical advice to anyone concerned that they may have had significant exposure remains current.

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 employers are required to prevent exposure to asbestos and, if this is not reasonably practical, reduce exposure to the lowest level reasonably practicable below the control limit. Neither the WATCH conclusions, which are shortly to be published, nor the Supreme Court judgment in the recent civil law compensation case Knowsley Metropolitan borough council v. Willmore imply any alteration to the existing duties under the regulations are required.

The work to further advance our knowledge of risk at current exposure levels is ongoing and HSE will continue to keep this and related matters under review.

Housing Benefit

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on raising the age threshold for the shared accommodation allowance. [50648]

Steve Webb: My Department has had regular discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government both at ministerial and official level on the changes to the shared accommodation rate. These discussions are ongoing as the policy develops.

The Department has just completed a procurement exercise with leading research organisations for the evaluation and monitoring of the impact of the housing benefit measures.

The precise form of the evaluation is being determined with the successful contractor, but we anticipate that it will consider the availability and the likely effects of housing benefit reductions on rent levels in the private sector and include fieldwork examining the effects on different types of households in a range of areas across Great Britain.

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the likely effects of housing benefit reductions on rent levels in the private sector. [50650]

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Steve Webb: The Department has just completed a procurement exercise with leading research organisations for the evaluation and monitoring of the impact of the housing benefit measures.

The precise form of the evaluation is being determined with the successful contractor, but we anticipate that it will consider the availability the likely effects of housing benefit reductions on rent levels in the private sector and include fieldwork examining the effects on different types of households in a range of areas across Great Britain.

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the likely effects on the availability of private rented accommodation for those under the age of 35 years of raising the age threshold for the shared accommodation allowance. [50651]

Steve Webb: My Department has had discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government on the change to the shared accommodation rate both at ministerial level and official level. It is too soon to assess the behavioural responses of landlords or tenants to this and other changes being made to housing benefit.

The Department has just completed a procurement exercise with leading research organisations for the evaluation and monitoring of the impact of the housing benefit measures.

The precise form of the evaluation is being determined with the successful contractor, but we anticipate that it will consider the availability and the likely effects of housing benefit reductions on rent levels in the private sector and include fieldwork examining the effects on different types of households in a range of areas across Great Britain.

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has made an estimate of the number of landlords who will no longer let properties to those on housing benefit following the reduction on the rate of local housing allowance. [50673]

Steve Webb: The Department has just completed a procurement exercise with leading research organisations for the evaluation and monitoring of the impact of the housing benefit measures.

The precise form of the evaluation is being determined with the successful contractor, but we anticipate that it will estimate of the number of landlords who will no longer let properties to those on housing benefit following the reduction on the rate of local housing allowance.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the potential savings to the Exchequer of reducing housing benefit entitlement to household size in the social rented sector where 10% of tenants identified in his Department’s impact assessment leave the property they are underoccupying; and what estimate he has made of the potential savings that will accrue where this figure is (a) 20%, (b) 30%, (c) 40%, (d) 50%, (e) 60%, (f) 70%, (g) 80% and (h) 90% of those affected. [52434]

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Steve Webb: This information is not available. The potential impacts on savings of tenants leaving the property they are under-occupying are complex and subject to a great deal of uncertainty. They depend partly on the accommodation to which the tenant moves and the accommodation from which the new tenant taking up their property comes.

The details of the policy design are still being developed and we shall provide more information as this process progresses, particularly when we publish draft regulations.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of households which would be affected by his proposed overall benefits cap who were placed in their accommodation under local authority prevention and relief of homelessness duties. [52462]

Steve Webb: We are introducing a cap on the total amount of benefit that working-age people can receive so households on out of work benefits will no longer receive more in benefit than the average weekly wage earned by working families.

No assessment has been made of the number of households which would be affected by this cap who were placed in their accommodation under local authority prevention and relief of homelessness duties.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of households deemed to be under-occupying their social rented accommodation who are in work but still receive some housing benefit in the latest period for which figures are available. [52464]

Steve Webb: Using information from the Department’s 2008-09 Family Resources Survey, we estimate that there are about 100,000 working households in receipt of housing benefit, living in the social rented sector and where the household is considered to be under-occupying their accommodation.

Notes:

1. Data for 2008-09 Family Resources Survey were collected between April 2008 and March 2009.

2. The Family Resources Survey is a nationally representative sample of approximately 23,000 households across Great Britain.

3. The Family Resources Survey is known to under-record benefit receipt so the estimate presented should be treated with caution.

4. Figures from the Family Resources Survey are based on a sample of households which have been adjusted for non-response using multi-purpose grossing factors which align the Family Resources Survey to Government office region population by age and sex. Estimates are subject to sampling error and remaining non-response error.

5. The figure has been rounded to the nearest 100,000.

6. Under-occupation has been estimated by applying the same criteria that applies to most housing benefit claimants living in the private rented sector.

7. Working households includes cases where the housing benefit claimant, their partner, or both the claimant and partner are working. No account has been taken of the number of hours that are worked or whether the claimant retains entitlement to other income-related benefits, such as income support.

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Housing Benefit: Landlords

Stephen Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the portion of universal credit awarded as housing benefit can be paid directly to landlords. [51836]

Steve Webb: There are advantages in paying the housing component to individuals, rather than the current system of payments direct to landlords. This would encourage people to manage their own budget in the same way as other households.

However, we also recognise the importance of stable rental income for social landlords to support the delivery of new homes and will develop universal credit in a way that protects their financial position, Options for achieving this could include some ongoing use of direct payments to landlords, use of direct debits, and a protection mechanism which safeguards landlords' income. We will work closely with the devolved administrations, providers and lenders in developing the new system.

Housing Benefit: Single People

Ian Lavery: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many single people aged between 25 and 34 are claiming the one bedroom local housing allowance rate in each (a) local authority area and (b) broad rental market area. [51351]

Steve Webb: The Department published the “Two Year Review of the Local Housing Allowance” in February 2011, which includes the current caseload proportions claiming the one bedroom local housing allowance rate, in figure 2.11. A copy of the document has been placed in the Library.

The Department plans to publish an equality impact assessment for the shared accommodation rate changes within the next two months, to accompany the draft regulations. This will contain estimates of the numbers of single housing benefit claimants between the ages of 25 and 34 who will be affected by these changes.

Immigrants: Wealth

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of immigration to the UK of foreign-born millionaires and billionaires has on the collection and presentation of Government data on relative poverty. [52220]

Maria Miller: It is generally accepted that low income is central to any poverty measurement. Definitions of low income households are set out in the annual National Statistics publication “Households Below Average Income”. This reports numbers of individuals in households below or persistently below 50%, 60% and 70% of median household income both before and after deducting housing costs. One of the reasons why the median rather than the mean is used is because the median is much less affected by extreme values. Therefore any immigration of foreign-born millionaires and billionaires might have a very slight upwards effect on the median, but both the impact on the median and on the poverty statistics would be negligible.

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Industrial Health and Safety

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require all employers to record risk assessment findings. [52375]

Chris Grayling: There are no plans to amend the Management of Health and Safety Regulations to require all employers to record the findings of their risk assessment regardless of how many people they employ. The Government does not believe such a change to be necessary or proportionate.

I have recently announced a review of health and safety regulation. Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, is leading the review and has been asked to make recommendations by the autumn on simplifying the current rules. The Government will then decide what actions to take in the light of those recommendations.

Jobcentre Plus

Mr Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many sanctions were issued by each Jobcentre Plus centre in the last six months for which figures are available. [51663]

Chris Grayling: The information is in the following table:

Jobseeker's allowance: Sanctions May to October 2010 (referrals with an adverse decision)
Jobcentre Plus region Varied length sanctions Fixed length sanctions Entitlement decisions All sanctions

Total

51,000

256,880

72,300

380,180

Scotland

4,270

22,020

5,380

31,670

North-east

2,940

14,820

3,280

21,040

North-west

7,430

35,100

14,550

57,080

Yorkshire and Humberside

5,500

25,740

3,140

34,380

Wales

3,140

15,130

1,400

19,670

West midlands

3,210

27,480

6,400

37,090

East midlands

3,010

20,450

3,910

27,370

East of England

5,300

21,990

3,130

30,420

South-east

5,130

23,230

7,810

36,170

London

5,340

39,620

20,390

65,350

South-west

5,680

10,820

2,780

19,280

Unknown

70

450

140

660

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. Some additional disclosure has been applied. 2. The number of sanctions applied is the number of referrals where there has been an adverse decision. 3. Varied length sanctions are where the JSA claimant has their payment temporarily suspended for anything up to 26 weeks 4. Fixed length sanctions are where the JSA claimant has their payment temporarily suspended for either 2,4 or 26 weeks. 5. Entitlement decisions are where the JSA claimant has their entitlement to JSA ended. Source: DWP Information Directorate: JSA sanctions and entitlement disallowance decisions statistics database. Data are cumulative from April 2000 to current data extract date.

Pensions

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people currently making pension contributions who will receive a lesser return on their

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contributions as a result of implementation of his proposed reform; and what estimate he has made of the average loss per such contribution of the first 12 months following retirement. [51953]

Steve Webb: The Government's consultation paper ‘A state pension for the 21st century’, published on 4 April 2011, set out two high level options for state pension reform. Following the consultation process the Government will be considering all the responses to our options for delivering a simpler and fairer state pension. As policy development is still under way it is not possible to provide detailed information on impacts at this stage.

However the Government have made it clear that were we to proceed with plans for a single tier pension we would continue to honour contributions to the current system.

We will provide a full assessment of impacts when the Government publish more detailed proposals for reform.

Poverty

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect on social mobility of levels of poverty. [48612]

Maria Miller: The Department has not commissioned or undertaken analysis on the effect on social mobility of levels of poverty.

Undertaking evaluation of poverty's impact on social mobility is particularly difficult because of the absence of relevant data for long periods of time—that is, over the life-cycle and/or over more than one generation.

Poverty: Children

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the position of the UK on international comparator tables for child poverty. [48611]

Maria Miller: Relative income poverty (households with less than 60% of the median income) is the conventional measure of child poverty used internationally. In 2009, the UK had the eleventh highest level of children in relative income poverty among members of the European Union. This Government recognise that income measures and targets do not tell the full story about the causes and consequences of childhood disadvantage. The Government’s child poverty strategy, published 5 April 2011, is a comprehensive three year plan to lay the foundations for a new and more effective approach. We plan to tackle head-on the causes of poverty, such as worklessness and low educational attainment, which underpin low achievement, aspiration and opportunity across generations.

Remploy

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what date a Minister last visited the Remploy site in Worksop. [51254]

Maria Miller: There is no recent record of a ministerial visit to the Worksop site. I have visited and met employees at the Acton and Coventry factories and the Coventry Employment Services branch.

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I will continue to visit Remploy sites and will always listen to the views of Remploy employees and all those who have a close interest in Remploy.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many former service personnel Remploy has employed since 1981. [51298]

Maria Miller: Remploy have confirmed that they do not record information on the former employment of its employees.

Remploy Employment Services is actively engaged with two Ministry of Defence programmes: the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), which provides support for former service personnel to find employment with mainstream employers; and the Army Recovery Capability (ARC) which supports service personnel from the point of injury or illness to their return to duty, or into civilian life.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether he has discussed with Bassetlaw Council any potential change of use for the site occupied by Remploy in Worksop; [51453]

(2) what estimate he has made of the book value of the land occupied by the Remploy site in Worksop; [51256]

(3) what discussions he has had with the private sector on the sale of Remploy facilities in Worksop. [51377]

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Maria Miller: Remploy as part of its five year modernisation plan is developing a social enterprise model in five sites including the Worksop factory. In Worksop, social enterprise businesses have been developed in carpentry and catering and the company will continue to explore, with the factory employees, any social enterprise opportunities in their local area.

The recent voluntary redundancy exercise has been offered to all staff in Remploy's Enterprise Businesses including staff in Worksop. The company have confirmed that no factory will close as a result of this exercise.

There are no plans to change the use of the site and we are not aware of any discussions with Bassetlaw council, or other parties regarding any change of use, value of or sale of the Worksop site.

Social Security Benefits

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Medway (b) Tonbridge and Malling and (c) Chatham and Aylesford constituency had been in receipt of benefits for (i) less than six months, (ii) six to 12 months, (iii) 12 to 18 months and (iv) 18 months and over on the latest date for which figures are available. [50047]

Maria Miller: The information requested is provided in the following table.

Claimants of working age benefits in Chatham and Aylesford, Tonbridge and Malling parliamentary constituency, Tonbridge and Malling local authority and Medway—August 2010

Total Chatham and Aylesford parliamentary constituency Tonbridge and Malling parliamentary constituency Medway LA Tonbridge and Malling LA

All durations

         

All

5,744,640

9,520

5,220

24,970

6,880

Job Seeker

1,349,710

2,360

990

6,100

1,330

ESA and Incapacity benefits

2,606,610

3,710

2,180

9790

2,840

Lone Parent

672,350

1,360

680

3,470

920

Carer

439,430

820

500

2,250

670

Others on income related benefit

191,380

360

160

870

230

Disabled

396,810

760

560

2,090

720

Bereaved

88,360

150

140

400

180

           

Duration of less than six months

         

All

1,295,570

2,200

1,110

5,610

1,510

Job Seeker

841,610

1,320

670

3,440

900

ESA and Incapacity benefits

240,440

400

210'

1,020

290

Lone Parent

93,060

220

90

480

150

Carer

41,800

80

60

260

70

Others on income related benefit

47,050

110

40

240

50

Disabled

21,430

60

30

130

40

Bereaved

10,180

20

10

50

20

           

Duration of six months up to one year

         

All

563,470

1,060

540

2,700

710

Job Seeker

247,320

460

180 ¦

1,150

230

ESA and Incapacity benefits

138,830

250

140

630

180

Lone Parent

77,990

160

90

390

120

Carer

39,910

80

50

200

70

Others on income related benefit

29,480

50

30

140

40

Disabled

19,030

40

30

130

40

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Bereaved

10,900

30

20

50

30

           

Duration of one year to 18 months

         

All

373,130

700

340

1,860

470

Job Seeker

122,800

250

60

690

80

ESA and Incapacity benefits

102,350

170

110

430

150

Lone Parent

66,510

120

70

320

100

Carer

34,360

80

40

180

60

Others on income related benefit

23,090

50

30

110

40

Disabled

20,810

30

30

120

40

Bereaved

3,210

10

-

10

-

           

Duration of 18 months and over

         

All

3,512,470

5,540

3,220

14,800

4,190

Job Seeker

137,970

320

90

810

110

ESA and Incapacity benefits

2,124,980

2,900

1,730

7,710

2,230

Lone Parent

434,780

860

420

2,290

540

Carer

323,350

590

350

1,610

470

Others on income related benefit

91,760

150

70

380

100

Disabled

335,550

630

460

1,720

600

Bereaved

64,070

100

100

290

130

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. 2. Duration for this analysis is the duration of the oldest benefit which the client is currently claiming. 3. State pension age: The age at which women reach state pension age will gradually increase from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and April 2020. This will introduce a small increase to the number of working age benefit recipients and a small reduction to the number of pension age recipients. Figures from May 2010 onwards reflect this change. For more information see: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/espa.pdf 4. Statistical group is a hierarchical variable. A person who fits into more than one category will only appear in the top-most one for which they are eligible. For example a claimant of disability living allowance and jobseeker's allowance would appear in ‘Job Seeker’, not in ‘Disabled’. 5. Statistical group ‘Lone Parents’ are defined as claimants on income support with child under 16 and no partner. Lone Parent Obligations were introduced from 24 November 2008 affecting the age of the youngest child. 6. From November 2008 the ‘incapacity benefits group’ includes employment and support allowance (ESA). ESA replaced incapacity benefit and income support (IS) paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008. Prior to this the ‘incapacity benefits group’ referred to claimants of incapacity benefit (including credits only) or severe disablement allowance including people claiming IS on the grounds of incapacity. 7. ‘—’ Denotes nil or negligible. Source: DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that adults who are on the autistic spectrum have access to advocacy services to assist with applications for welfare benefits. [50892]

Maria Miller: Jobcentre Plus is committed to providing individual tailored support to customers with autistic spectrum conditions using our services. We make required reasonable adjustments, including making use of the most suitable environment or premises for conducting interviews. Where individual customers ask us to, we will work with their families, an advocate or representative to facilitate access to our services.

We ensure our advisers are aware of the need to make suitable adjustments for people with autistic spectrum conditions. Our specialist disability employment advisers also receive additional skills training including provision about autism.

Our “Raising the Game on Disability” seminars also promote disability awareness and confidence and are available to all Jobcentre Plus staff. The seminars feature advice on working with customers with autism.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of (a) his Department’s expenditure on and (b) the number of people claiming each benefit for which his Department is responsible in each year to 2015. [51563]

Chris Grayling: The requested information, consistent with the 2011 Budget, is due to be published on 21 April 2011 at the following website:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/index.php?page=expenditure

A copy will be placed in the Library at the same time.

Information consistent with the 29 November autumn statement can currently be found at the above website.

Social Security Benefits: Digitalisation

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had with groups representing (a) people with disabilities and (b) older people on the proposed digitalisation of the benefits system; and if he will make a statement. [43129]

Steve Webb: My Department is committed to understanding the experience of older and disabled people when developing digital benefit services. The

26 Apr 2011 : Column 245W

new state pension and jobseeker's allowance online services were developed and tested with those customers. We will continue to involve users and consult representative groups and partners in the design of online benefits. This will include identifying how we can assist those people who might need help to use digital technology as we make more benefits accessible on line. Where necessary, we will maintain telephony and face to face channels for vulnerable customers and complex transactions.

Unemployment: Females

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will take steps to prevent women in employment becoming unemployed before they reach the state pension age. [50501]

Steve Webb: The Government’s Age Positive initiative continues to present the business benefits to employers of retaining older workers. Age Positive is working with key business sector leaders to introduce flexible working and retirement practices that allow older people to continue working. Offering more flexible and part-time working can help older people stay in employment up to state pension age and beyond.

The Government will consult later in the spring on proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to all workers in order to help women and men of all ages remain in employment.

Universal Credit

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr. Bain) of 22 March 2011, Official Report, column 970W, on universal credit, what estimate he has made of the potential cost to the Exchequer of top-up funds paid to families who will have their entitlement decrease as a result of the introduction of the universal credit. [51512]

Chris Grayling: The Government have made a commitment that there will be no cash losers purely as a result of the move to universal credit. At the point of change a comparison will be made between current amount received in tax credits and/or benefits and the household entitlement under universal credit. If the universal credit entitlement is less, and no other circumstances have changed, a cash amount will be paid in order to make up the difference.

Details of this protection have yet to be fully worked out but we would expect future increases in universal credit entitlement to reduce the need for transitional protection. Estimates during the transition period are not available.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr. Bain) of 22 March 2011, Official Report, column 970W, on universal credit, whether people who have a decrease in their annual entitlement will receive a cash amount in order to make up the difference for (a) the first year and (b) subsequent years. [51513]

Chris Grayling: The Government have made a commitment that there will be no cash losers as a result of the move to universal credit. At the point of change a comparison will be made between the amount received

26 Apr 2011 : Column 246W

in tax credits and/or benefits and the household entitlement under universal credit. If the universal credit entitlement is less, and no other circumstances have changed, a cash amount will be paid to make up the difference.

The maximum amount of cash protection will be fixed at the point of change and will continue to be paid until the value of the award under the new system catches up with the old entitlement.

We are still considering the details of this major transition to ensure that it is affordable and fair.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr. Bain) of 22 March 2011, Official Report, column 970W, on universal credit, if he will estimate how many families with savings between £6,000 and £16,000 will have an average reduction of £210 in their annual entitlement as a result of the introduction of the universal credit in each (a) constituency, (b) local authority area and (c) region. [51514]

Chris Grayling: The information requested is not available.

Sample sizes are too small to yield estimates for the number of families with savings between £6,000 and £16,000 who will see an average reduction of £210 in their annual entitlement as the result of the introduction of the universal credit in each (a) constituency, (b) local authority area and (c) region.

Transitional protection will ensure that there are no cash losers at the point of transition as a result of changes in the way benefit is calculated.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East, (Mr. Bain) of 22 March 2011, Official Report, column 970W, on universal credit, if he will estimate how many families with savings above £16,000 will have an average reduction in their annual entitlement of £2,720 as a result of the introduction of the universal credit in each (a) constituency, (b) local authority area and (c) region. [51515]

Chris Grayling: The information requested is not available.

Sample sizes are too small to yield estimates for the number of families with savings above £16,000 who will see an average reduction of £2,720 in their annual entitlement as the result of the introduction of the universal credit in each (a) constituency, (b) local authority area and (c) region.

Transitional protection will ensure that there are no cash losers at the point of transition as a result of changes in the way benefit is calculated.

Stephen Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how those without access to a bank account will receive universal credit payments. [51837]

Chris Grayling: Direct payment into an account is the way the Department normally pays all benefits, pensions and allowances.

Universal credit customers without access to mainstream bank, building society or credit union accounts can be paid as appropriate either through the Post Office card account or the new payment service which will replace cheque payments from 2012.

26 Apr 2011 : Column 247W

Warm Front Scheme: Stockton-on-Tees

Alex Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate has been made of the number of people in (a) Stockton North constituency and (b) the Stockton-on-Tees borough council area who would qualify for assistance under the Warm Front scheme (A) before and (B) after the changes to the qualification criteria. [51196]

Gregory Barker: I have been asked to reply.

The data requested are not available. Eligibility for the Warm Front scheme has not been estimated below national level.

26 Apr 2011 : Column 248W

Winter Fuel Payments: Northumberland

Ian Lavery: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost to the public purse of providing winter fuel allowance to those (a) aged 60 to 79 at the rate of (i) £200 and (ii) £250 per year and (b) aged 80 or over at the rate of (A) £300 and (B) £400 per year in (1) Wansbeck constituency and (2) the county of Northumberland in each of the next four calendar years. [51350]

Steve Webb: The information is not available as requested. Forecasts of winter fuel payments are made on financial years rather than calendar years.

The information that is available is in the following tables:

Wansbeck constituency
    Winter fuel payment expenditure (£ million, in-year prices)
Winter fuel payment rates Age group 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

£200/£300

79 and under

2.3

2.2

2.2

2.1

 

80 and over

1.0

1.0

1.1

1.1

 

All ages

3.3

3.2

3.2

3.2

           

£250/£400

79 and under

2.8

2.8

2.7

2.7

 

80 and over

1.4

1.4

1.4

1.4

 

All ages

4.2

4.2

4.1

4.1

Northumberland
    Winter fuel payment expenditure (£ million, in-year prices)
Winter fuel payment rates Age group 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

£200/£300

79 and under

9.3

9.1

8.9

8.7

 

80 and over

3.9

4.0

4.1

4.1

 

All ages

13.2

13.1

13.0

12.9

           

£250/£400

79 and under

11.6

11.4

11.2

10.9

 

80 and over

5.2

5.3

5.4

5.5

 

All Ages

16.9

16.7

16.6

16.5

Notes: 1. Expenditure on winter fuel payments is rounded to the nearest £100,000. Age breakdowns may not sum to totals due to rounding. 2. Expenditure on the “79 and under” age group includes payments to people over women's state pension age, which is increasing from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2018. People under women’s state pension age (both men and women) are not eligible for winter fuel payments. 3. Projections of winter fuel payments on a constituency and local authority level use latest administrative data to apportion total Great Britain (GB) expenditure over the requested geography. Therefore they do not allow for potentially different trends between these geographical units and Great Britain overall. 4. GB forecasts of winter fuel payments are consistent with Budget 2011 forecasts. Source: Budget 2011 forecasts and projections based on DWP statistical data

Work Capability Assessment

Ian Lavery: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons his Department did not accept the recommendations of the Social Security Advisory Committee on the introduction of the Work Capability Assessment Regulations (S.I., No 228, 2011). [49262]

Chris Grayling: The Social Security Advisory Committee recommended proceeding with some changes but delaying others until they have been considered in light of the findings of the Independent Review. We do not agree with this approach.

We believe that the WCA needs to be continuously improved over time and the changes we made as a result of the Regulations (S.I. No 228 2011) are part of this improvement process. These changes were undertaken following significant consultation with technical experts and disability groups to refine the WCA.

They improve the assessment and make the technical descriptors clearer and more consistent to apply. We also expect that they will increase the number of individuals with severe disabilities being allowed into the support group and ensure the assessment better accounts for an individual’s adaptation to their condition.

Since the Social Security Advisory Committee reported, Professor Harrington's independent review has also been published. We have committed to implementing all of his recommendations, many of these address concerns raised by SSAC. This will help us to further improve the WCA and refine the process.

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Women and Equalities

Departmental Official Cars

Maria Eagle: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities on what date (a) she and (b) each other Minister in the Government Equalities Office last used a Ministerial car while travelling in an official capacity; and how many times (i) she and (ii) each other Minister in her Department has travelled to their constituency in a Ministerial car since May 2010. [50199]

Lynne Featherstone: The Minister for Women and Equalities does not use a ministerial car. In her dual role as the Secretary of State for the Home Department she uses transport provided by the Metropolitan Police.

I last used a ministerial car on official Government Equalities Office (GEO) business on 29 March 2011. Since May 2010 I have made seven journeys to my constituency after attending official (GEO) events.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities how much the Government Equalities Office has spent on ministerial travel by (a) ministerial car, (b) train, (c) bus, (d) commercial aircraft and (e) private aircraft since May 2010. [50208]

Lynne Featherstone: The Minister for Women and Equalities and I share dual roles between the Home Office and Government Equalities Office. We use transport provided by the Metropolitan police and the Home Office respectively. Details of our travel and expenditure are published quarterly on the Home Office website and expenditure on ministerial cars by the Department of Transport’s website.

On 1 April 2011 the Government Equalities Office joined the Home Office under a Machinery of Government Transfer.

Public Bodies Reform Programme

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities pursuant to the answer of 28 March 2011, Official Report, column 2W, on departmental public bodies, how many (a) women and (b) men are no longer members of public bodies for which she is responsible as a result of mergers, reorganisations and abolitions resulting from decisions taken since May 2010. [51441]

Lynne Featherstone [pursuant to the reply, 28 March 2011, Official Report, c. 2W]: We announced the outcome of the cross-Government review of all public bodies on 14 October. The review was conducted in order to deliver our commitment, as set out in the coalition agreement, to reduce the cost and number of quangos.

26 Apr 2011 : Column 250W

As part of that review, it was decided that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will be retained and radically reformed, while the Women’s National Commission (WNC) would be closed down and its core functions brought into the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

The WNC closed in December 2010. All public appointments relating to the WNC came to an end as a result of its closure as follows:

(i) 15 women;

(ii) No men.

For the EHRC no public appointments have been affected as a result of the review to date.

Disability

Margaret Curran: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities (1) what accessible versions for disabled people of the Government Equalities Office consultation on the specific duties under the Equality Act 2010 she plans to produce; and if she will make a statement; [50441]

(2) when the Government Equalities Office plans to produce an easy-read accessible version of its consultation on the specific duties under the Equality Act 2010; and if she will make a statement. [50442]

Lynne Featherstone [holding answer 1 April 2011]: Previous documents on the public sector Equality Duty have been produced in ‘easy read’ format and are available in alternative formats on request. The policy review paper will also be published in this format next week. This version will focus on explaining the changes to the specific duties.

Any reasonable request for alternative accessible formats, such as Braille or large font, which are made to the Government Equalities Office, will be considered.

Equality Duty

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities (1) how much was spent from the public purse on consultation on the public sector equality duty draft specific duties regulations which took place between August and November 2010; [50003]

(2) how much staff time was spent on the consultation on the public sector equality duty draft specific duties regulations which took place between August and November 2010; [50004]

(3) what the cost to the public purse was of preparing the draft specific duties regulations published by the Government Equalities Office on 12 January 2011; [50005]

(4) how much staff time was spent on the draft specific duties regulations published by the Government Equalities Office on 12 January 2011; [50006]

(5) if she will estimate the cost to the public purse of consultation on the policy review paper on proposals for draft specific duties regulations announced on 17 March 2011; [50007]

(6) if she will estimate the amount of staff time which will be spent on the consultation on the policy review paper on proposals for draft specific duties regulations announced on 17 March 2011. [50008]

26 Apr 2011 : Column 251W

Lynne Featherstone: Since June 2010, work to implement the public sector Equality Duty—including developing and consulting on the draft specific duties regulations, compiling the list of public bodies to which the Equality Duty should apply, and drafting guidance for public bodies on complying with the Equality Duty—has been the main task for a team of three policy officials, and about 50% of the work of a Government lawyer.

It is not possible to provide an exact breakdown of the staff time devoted to the each of the tasks identified in the questions.

In addition to staff costs, publishing the August 2010 consultation document cost £12,500. The draft regulations and the policy review paper were only published on-line, so incurred no additional costs.

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what discussions she has had with (a) representatives of equality organisations and (b) public sector bodies on her decision to re-draft and re-consult on the specific duties of the Equality Act 2010 public sector equality duty. [51251]

Mrs May: As Minister for Women and Equalities I meet regularly with equality organisations and public sector bodies to discuss a number of issues.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Tessa Jowell: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what estimate the Government Equalities Office has made of the level of savings which will accrue from the change in function of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. [48765]

Lynne Featherstone: Changes to the functions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission are one element of the proposed reform plans for the Commission, as set out in the consultation document published on 22 March.

We estimate that our reforms of the Commission will result in total savings of £84 million over the period to the end of the spending review (2014-15).

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Visits Abroad

Priti Patel: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities how many visits overseas have been undertaken by members of the Equality and Human Rights Commission since its establishment; who travelled on each visit; whom they met; what the purpose was of each visit; and what the total cost was of each of these visits. [52471]

Lynne Featherstone: The Equality and Human Rights Commission (The Commission) is an arm's length body; the following is based on information it has provided.

The Commission undertakes overseas travel as required by its mandate as a National Equality Body and National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), for example, to attend meetings of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The number of overseas visits undertaken by board members or staff of the Commission since its establishment and the total cost of these visits is in the following table:

26 Apr 2011 : Column 252W


Number of trips Total cost of trips (£) Actual cost incurred by the Commission (after reimbursements (1) ) (£)

October 2007 to March 2008

16

16,500

April 2008 to March 2009

46

32,938

April 2009 to March 2010

65

34,701

April 2010 to March 2011

57

29,768

14,884

Total

184

113,907

(1 )A substantial proportion (estimated at around 50%) of these overseas travel costs are covered by the meeting organisers, and are then reimbursed to the Commission (for example from the European Commission, the Commonwealth Institute, the Council of Europe). Exact figures of reimbursement are only available from 2010/11. Figures for earlier years, and details of individual visits as requested in the question, are available only at disproportionate cost.

Equality Duty: Public Sector

Mr Lammy: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities whether the decision to re-draft and re-consult on the specific duties as part of the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010 has been discussed by the Inter-Ministerial Group on Equalities. [51742]

Lynne Featherstone: The Inter-Ministerial Group on Equalities meets quarterly to review progress on equality and implementation of Government’s Equality Strategy, published on 2 December 2011. In order to enable a free exchange of views between Ministers, details of discussion are not published.

Public Bodies Reform Programme

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities which public bodies with a remit which includes issues related to women and equalities have been merged, reorganised or abolished since May 2010; and if she will make a statement. [52138]

Lynne Featherstone: The Women’s National Commission which had a remit

“to make known to Government, by all possible means, the informed opinion of women,”

was closed in December 2010.

The Union Modernisation Fund Supervisory Board was closed in November 2010. It had a remit, which included women and equalities, to:

improve the ability of unions to respond to the increasing diversity of the labour market, and to supply services geared to the needs of a diverse membership;

capacity build for equality reps; and,

develop support mechanisms for vulnerable workers.

All public bodies are expected to take the Gender Equality Duty and, since 5 April 2011, the Equality Duty into account as appropriate in their day-to-day work.

26 Apr 2011 : Column 253W

Equality Duty

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities when she plans to lay before Parliament regulations to provide for the new public sector equality duty. [46875]

Lynne Featherstone: The Government intend to make a commencement order bringing the equality duty into force on 5 April 2011.

Following further consideration of the draft specific duties regulations published on 12 January 2011, I have published today a policy review paper inviting comments by 21 April 2011 on new draft specific duties regulations designed to ensure that public bodies consider equality when carrying out their functions without imposing unnecessary burdens and bureaucracy.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Priti Patel: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what the cost was of the visit by the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to the headquarters of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna on 14 March 2011; who else participated in the visit; what the purpose of the visit was; what the mode, class and cost of travel was; and what the cost of accommodation used was. [52472]

Lynne Featherstone: The Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is an arm's length body; the following is based on information it has provided.

The total cost for the Commission's visit to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) on 14 March 2011 was £1,918.18.

The following six staff participated in the visit (in addition to the chair): Director of Foresight; Director of Research; Head of Social Analysis and Foresight; Head of Research; Head of European and International Policy; and Senior Social Analyst.

The purpose of the visit was a learning exchange seminar hosted by the FRA for staff of both organisations. Its primary objective was to make links, share insights and learn from each other's work.

The chair and all Commission staff travelled by air in economy class.

The total cost of travel was £1,183.16. The total cost of accommodation was £735.02.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Advantage West Midlands

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the redevelopment of the former MG Rover site at Longbridge of his proposals for disposal of land and property owned by Advantage West Midlands on the site; [51728]

(2) what plans he has for the future ownership of land and property owned by Advantage West Midlands on the former MG Rover site at Longbridge; and if he will make a statement. [51729]

26 Apr 2011 : Column 254W

Mr Prisk: Each regional development agency, including Advantage West Midlands (AWM) has developed a detailed plan for the disposal and treatment of its assets and liabilities and scrutiny of these is on going. We have agreed aspects of AWM’s assets and liabilities plan and we are still in discussions about others, including the future of Longbridge. However, disposals will be made in a way that secures best value for the taxpayer and minimises costs. It will be for the AWM to set out a strategy for disposing of individual sites and assets.

Animal Experiments: Cosmetics

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what scientific advice he has received on the alternative testing techniques available to the cosmetics industry following the introduction of the prohibition on the testing of cosmetic products on animals in 2013. [50128]

Mr Davey: The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of the use of animals in Research (NC3Rs)—an organisation funded by the Department—provides scientific input to policy on the development of alternative techniques for the testing of cosmetic products on animals.

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what representations he has received from representatives of the cosmetics industry on the preparedness of that industry for the prohibition on the testing of cosmetic products on animals in 2013; [50129]

(2) what representations he has made to the European Commission on the implementation in 2013 of the seventh amendment to Council Directive 76/768/EEC and Regulation (EC) No 1223/200 on the testing of cosmetics on animals. [50136]

Mr Davey: I have not received representations from the cosmetics industry, neither have I made representations to the European Commission on the subject.

Apprentices: City of Chester

Stephen Mosley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many people were participating in apprenticeship schemes in City of Chester constituency (a) in April 2010 and (b) on the latest date for which figures are available. [51157]

Mr Hayes: Table 1 shows the number of learners participating on an apprenticeship programme on 1 April 2010, and 1 January 2011 in the City of Chester parliamentary constituency.

Table 1: Apprenticeship participation in the City of Chester constituency, 1 April 2010 and 1 January 2011.
City of Chester constituency Number of participants

Participation on 1 April 2010

380

Participation on 1 January 2011

460

Notes: 1. All Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. 2. Geography information is based upon the home postcode of the learner. Source: Individualised Learner Record

26 Apr 2011 : Column 255W


The participation figures in this table show the number of apprentices in learning on the given dates. However, to ensure consistency and clarity, for comparative purposes we use the number of people starting an apprenticeship over the full academic year.

Information on the number of apprenticeship starts is published in a quarterly statistical first release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 31 March 2011:

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_current

Apprentices: Pendle

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to encourage small and medium-sized businesses in Pendle constituency to take on apprentices; what recent representations he has received on this matter; and if he will make a statement. [50962]

Mr Hayes: The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) is working closely with employers and others to increase the number of apprenticeships in the Pennine and East Lancashire area. For example: working with the Chamber of Commerce in East Lancashire hosting breakfast briefings to increase awareness; and working with CXL, Jobcentre Plus and Enterprise 4 All, promoting apprenticeships to Asian and minority ethnic businesses across Lancashire.

Nationally, Government are focusing on making it easier for small and medium-enterprises (SMEs) in particular to take on new apprentices and recently announced a new £75 million programme of training and other targeted support focused specifically on SMEs to help them access advanced and higher level apprenticeships.

Arts: Research

Tristram Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with the Arts and Humanities Research Council on strategic research priorities in the last 12 months. [50927]

Mr Willetts: Three meetings have taken place between Ministers and the Research Council chief executives since May. These included an introductory meeting with the Research Councils, and the growth and spending reviews. Officials have held numerous meetings with the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the past year. These covered issues relating to governance and sponsorship, and discussions around the spending review.

Business Regulation

Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the benefit to businesses employing fewer than 10 people and start-ups of reduced administrative burdens and compliance costs arising from the moratorium exempting such businesses from new domestic regulations for the next three years. [51558]

Mr Prisk: There are 4.6 million micro businesses in the UK and we know that when new regulations are

26 Apr 2011 : Column 256W

introduced, it can take these businesses a disproportionate amount of time and effort to interpret, understand and comply with them.

The moratorium is intended to give micro businesses and start-ups breathing space from the constant flow of new domestic regulations and requirements. Combined with other measures announced in the Budget, such as improving regulatory guidance on Business Link and improving regulatory enforcement, we believe that the time and cost savings for micro businesses will be considerable.

Departmental Accountancy

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether any ministerial directions have been issued to the accounting officers of his Department since his appointment. [52004]

Mr Davey: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not issued any ministerial directions to the accounting officer of the Department since his appointment.

Departmental Early Retirement

Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many of his Department's staff have taken early retirement in each of the last five years; and at what cost to his Department in each such year. [49309]

Mr Davey: The number of early retirements in each year from 2006-07 to 2010-11 is given in the following table. Early retirements give rise to costs spread over a number of years. The table shows the total, multi-year cost associated with the early retirements that occurred in each year.

Staff can retire or be retired early in the circumstances prescribed by the Civil Service Management Code. There is only a cost to the Department where an enhanced early retirement package is provided under the Civil Services Compensation Scheme.



2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11

FER or CER

Staff

14

97

16

18

55

 

Cost

1,808,618

14,007,013

2,019,297

2,890,342

6,084,767

             

AER

Staff

1

1

0

0

147

 

Cost

12,780

11,626

0

0

14,727,882

Departmental Meetings

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many meetings his Department has had with (a) the Higher Education Funding Council for England, (b) Universities UK, (c) the Qualifications and Assessment Authority and (d) the Confederation of British Industry in each month since 1 January 2011. [51566]

Mr Willetts: I, my ministerial colleagues and the Permanent Secretary have had the following meetings with these organisations:

26 Apr 2011 : Column 257W


January February March April

HEFCE

4

3

11

0

UUK

0

0

1

0

QAA

0

0

0

0

CBI

5

1

3

5

In addition there will have been other meetings with these organisations and departmental officials, which are not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Enterprise Zones

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will publish the evidence taken into account in the determination of the locations of the first 10 proposed enterprise zones announced in the 2011 Budget. [49423]

Justine Greening: I have been asked to reply.

Budget announced the first 11 local enterprise partnerships, outside London, which will host enterprise Zones. These were selected by clear criteria. Six of the 10 LEPs were selected on the basis that they encompass one or more of England's largest cities, ranked by population. The remaining four LEPs were selected on the basis of need, using the published location criteria that are used to assess bids to the Regional Growth Fund.

Economic Development in London is uniquely devolved. Government will therefore work with the Mayor of London to develop an EZ for London. Government will also work with the devolved Administrations to explore opportunities for developing enterprise zones across the UK.

Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what net change in the number of businesses he expects to be attributable to the introduction of enterprise zones. [51559]

Mr Prisk: Local areas are being asked to submit their bids with the aim to maximise business creation/growth and job creation. These bids will be assessed on their ability to drive this and create as many new businesses as is possible.

An accurate number of the net change of businesses is not possible to supply at this stage as business rate discounts do not necessarily have a bearing as to the number of new businesses created. Other factors, such as the type of business and floor space, will also determine the level of business rate due.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on what dates prior to the 2011 Budget Statement (a) he and (b) officials in his Department discussed with (i) local authorities and (ii) local enterprise partnerships designation of areas as an enterprise zone. [51952]

Mr Prisk: Discussions with both representatives from local authorities and local enterprise partnerships were handled by officials in the run up to the Budget. Ministers were not directly involved with the discussions but were kept informed.

26 Apr 2011 : Column 258W

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on what date each relevant (a) local authority and (b) local enterprise partnership was informed officially by his Department prior to the announcement of the 2011 Budget that its area had been selected as an enterprise zone. [51982]

Mr Prisk: Discussions with both representatives from local authorities and local enterprise partnerships were handled by officials in the run up to the Budget and they were informed of the decisions shortly before the Budget announcement. Ministers were not directly involved with the discussions but were kept informed.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the criteria local enterprise partnerships should consider in putting forward bids for the second tranche of enterprise zone awards. [52031]

Mr Prisk: The exact detail of the criteria that will be used to assess bids to host the second tranche of enterprise zones are still being developed. However Government have made clear that a key focus of the new enterprise zones will be around economic growth and job creation.

Ed Balls: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills which Office of National Statistics standard geographical areas are to be covered by those enterprise zones with confirmed locations. [52142]

Mr Prisk: At present four enterprise zones sites have been confirmed, these are:

Liverpool—Wirral Waters

Manchester—Airport City

Nottingham—Boots Campus

London—Royal Docks

The exact boundaries for these enterprise zones have still to be confirmed.

EU External Trade: India

Alison McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills which (a) non-governmental organisations, (b) trade associations and (c) charities Ministers in his Department have met to discuss the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India. [51127]

Mr Davey: The Department’s Ministers have met with a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA). These include those from trade associations, charities, and non-governmental organisations who have an interest in the FTA overall. In recent months this has included The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited and Tear Fund. In addition, officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders who have an interest in the FTA.

Executives: Females

Mrs Grant: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department plans to promote mentoring and sponsorship of women in the

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(a)

private and

(b)

public sector in order to increase the number of female senior executives. [51129]

Mr Davey: The Government welcome the review being undertaken by Lord Davies of Abersoch into women on boards, which recommends the consolidation and improvement of training provision for the development of potential board members for listed UK companies, including mentoring and sponsorship, and will be working with companies, business organisations and academia to encourage them to do so.

The Government have set an aspiration that by the end of the Parliament at least half of all new appointees being made to the boards of public bodies will be women, and will shortly set out their action plan to achieve this aim.

Mrs Grant: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans he has to encourage public companies to have a gender-balanced boardroom. [51134]

Mr Davey: The Government strongly welcome the review being undertaken by Lord Davies of Abersoch into women on boards which was published in February. We are working with the Financial Reporting Council, who will shortly launch a consultation on proposed amendments to the Corporate Governance Code, and with executive search firms, who will soon launch a Voluntary Code of Conduct covering search criteria and processes for FTSE 350 board appointments.

In addition we are working with key stakeholders, including chairmen, company secretaries, academia and business representative organisations to encourage companies to adopt other measures set out by Lord Davies of Abersoch in his business-led strategy, including publishing aspirational targets for the number of women on their boards in 2013 and 2015.

Further Education: Higher Education

Stephen Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans he has to increase the number of higher education places offered in further education colleges. [51882]

Mr Willetts: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 4 April 2011, Official Report, column 687W to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith).

Graduates: Manufacturing Industries

Nia Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he plans to take steps to raise the profile among graduates of the process and manufacturing industry. [51508]

Mr Prisk: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 29 March 2011, Official Report, column 307W. We began discussion at the Manufacturing summit on the scope for promoting manufacturing careers to graduates.

Health: Higher Education

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on proposals for the

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future commissioning of pre-registration, post-registration and continuous professional development healthcare courses in universities; and if he will make a statement. [52284]

Mr Willetts: My officials and I are working very closely with our colleagues in the Department of Health on issues which affect both the higher education and health sectors, as they take policy and funding decisions. BIS officials participate in the Health Education National Strategic Exchange which considers such issues, including the provision of health education courses and workforce planning.