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Departmental Procurement

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what provisions in respect of behavioural

27 Jun 2011 : Column 596W

standards have been included in procurement contracts issued by his Department since May 2010. [61680]

Chris Grayling: DWP have a number of requirements in respect of behavioural standards which third party providers have to adhere to in the delivery of contracted services and products. These requirements provide contractors with clear expectations relating to the contract performance in that:

In all cases, contractors are required to perform their obligations under any Department contract in accordance with the law, statutory regulations, Government and departmental policies and good industry practice;

Contractors are responsible for ensuring their staff are not claiming social security benefit, where payment is precluded due to earnings, and those who are not EC nationals are legally entitled to be resident in the United Kingdom and have a work permit. The contractor will comply with staff vetting procedures for all staff; these must be undertaken prior to contract start. They will ensure Criminal Records Bureau checks will be completed for relevant staff where necessary;

Contractors must ensure there are effective anti-fraud control measures in place for both themselves and their subcontractors. The systems and processes look to ensure fraud is prevented and that it will be detected early if it does occur;

Contractors are required to have policies and delivery plans (including staff training) in place, subject to Department review, relating to diversity and equality, sustainable development, and security requirements;

Contractors need to comply with quality standards and need to maintain accreditation with the relevant quality standards authorisation body, where required by the contract. Where this is not the case, the contractors will deliver the provision to agreed contractual standards; and

Contractors need to ensure that all staff supplying the Department do so with all due skill, care and diligence and need to possess such qualifications, skills and experience as are necessary for the proper supply of the services.

The Department conducts a formal review of the obligations and performance of contracts at least annually. During this review, a performance report is agreed and contractors are required to undertake remedial activities, if required.

Departmental Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the name is of each regulatory measure revoked by his Department between 1 March and 31 May 2011; and what estimate he has made of the potential annual saving to those affected by each revocation. [60491]

Chris Grayling: The regulations which have been revoked in the period between 1 March and 31 May 2011 are listed the following table. The Department publishes impact assessments for regulation that has a benefit to business, civil society organisations or the public sector and copies of these are placed in the Library of the House.

Instrument number Title Revoked by Laid In force from

SI 2005/1610

Pension Protection Fund (Payments to meet Investment Costs) regulations 2005

SI 2011/671 Pension Protection Fund (Prescribed Payments and Investment Costs—Amendment) Regulations 2011

10 March 2011

1 April 2011

         

SI 2009/607

Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2009

SI 2011/830 Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2011

21 March 2011

11 April 2011

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SI 2010/826

Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2010

SI 2011/830 Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2011

21 March 2011

11 April 2011

Disability Living Allowance: Care Homes

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the savings in real terms which will accrue from the withdrawal of mobility allowance from persons in residential care in each year of the comprehensive spending review period. [61499]

Maria Miller: The measure to remove the mobility component of disabled living allowance from people in residential care announced in the spending review was estimated to save the tax payer around £140 million each year in real terms.

After listening to the strong concerns raised by individuals and organisations the Government made clear that they will not remove the mobility component from people in residential care in 2012. Instead, the needs of care home residents will be considered as part of the wider reform of disability living allowance and the implementation of personal independence payments from April 2013.

Disability: Children

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will assess the conclusions and recommendations of the report, Setting the Scene for Scotland's Disabled Children. [37757]

Maria Miller: We welcome this report, which provides a significant addition to the evidence base on disabled children in Scotland.

You may be interested in results from the recently published, Life Opportunities Survey, by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Office for Disability Issues. This explores the prevalence of disabled adults and children across Great Britain and the extent of social barriers they face in different areas of life. Details of the report can be found on the ODI website:

www.odi.gov.uk/los

Education: Training

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether individuals mandated to undertake education and training as part of skills conditionality proposals will potentially be liable for higher-level sanctions. [61363]

Chris Grayling: From 1 August 2011, jobseeker's allowance claimants who fail to undertake education or training without good cause when required to do so will lose all of their benefit or training allowance for a fixed period of two, four or up to 26 weeks. Employment and support allowance claimants in the work-related activity group who fail to undertake education or training without good cause when required to do so will lose 50% of the work-related activity component for the first four weeks and then 100% of the component thereafter until they meet the requirements of the mandatory referral to education or training.

The Welfare Reform Bill introduces a clearer sanctions structure which will apply across all working-age benefits. This will have different levels, including a higher level for the most serious failures. Failures to undertake mandatory education or training will not be sanctioned at the higher level. Where jobseeker's allowance or employment and support allowance claimants do not have good reason for failing to accept a mandatory referral to education or training, they will receive a lower-level sanction, of which there will be two components: an open -ended period which will end when a claimant re-engages, followed by a fixed period of one, two or four weeks.

Employment and Support Allowance

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals who will receive contributory employment and support allowance (a) in the work-related activity group and (b) in the assessment phase, will have claims which (i) will not have a duration of more than 365 days on any day in each financial year between 2011-12 and 2015-16 and (ii) will have a duration of 366 days or more on at least one day during each such year. [58743]

Chris Grayling [holding answer 9 June 2011]: The information requested is in the following table. This shows the Department’s forecast of the number of people receiving contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) with durations of 365 days or less, or greater than 365 days, in any day of each financial year. This is calculated by adding the case load at the end of the financial year with the number of claimants who have ceased claiming contributory ESA during the year.

For those who leave the contributory ESA as a result of the time limit, it is estimated that around 60% are expected to be fully or partially compensated by income-related ESA, so will retain entitlement to ESA.

There will be some people leaving the benefit because their health improves; others health will deteriorate and they will move from the WRAG into the support group. Those claimants that remain in the WRAG will include claimants whose conditions fluctuate or who have developed other functional impairments.

ESA phase Claim duration 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16

Assessment phase

365 days or less

323,200

383,600

390,200

365,800

363,400

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Greater than 365 days

18,800

0

0

0

0

             

Work-related activity group

365 days or less

191,200

385,700

428,600

305,500

119,400

 

Greater than 365 days

124,300

0

0

0

0

The information is consistent with the Budget 2011 forecasts and rounded to the nearest 100 claimants.

Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which organisations and charities representing people with disabilities he has met to discuss his proposals to limit the payment of contributory employment and support allowance to one year; and if he will make a statement. [60917]

Chris Grayling: The Department values the views of disability groups and we engage in ongoing and helpful dialogue both at ministerial and official level with a number of group representatives.

Since this measure was announced as part of the spending review in October, both Ministers and officials have met with representatives from organisations representing disabled people, such as Macmillan Cancer Support, Disability Alliance, Citizens Advice, Mind and Scope.

The Department is committed to engaging with organisations such as these on an ongoing basis as part of our wider consultation on the implications of our proposals for welfare reform, to ensure that the social security system supports disabled people and those with health conditions in the most sensitive, fair and appropriate way.

Employment Schemes

Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether an equality impact assessment has been undertaken on the introduction of the Work Programme. [62577]

Chris Grayling: An equality impact assessment for the design of Work Programme was conducted and included as part of the equality impact assessment for the overall Employment, Skills and Enterprise regulations, which cover the Work Programme; this has been published on the DWP website.

An equality impact assessment for the delivery of the Work Programme will be published before the summer recess.

Employment Support (Disabled People)

Mr Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 9 June 2011, Official Report, column 45WS, on employment support (disabled people), what plans he has to consult employees of Remploy in relation to the recommendations of the Sayce review; and if he will make a statement. [60378]

Maria Miller: The independent report by Liz Sayce, ‘Getting in, staying in and getting on’, was published on 9 June 2011. The report contains a range of specific recommendations, including recommendations on Remploy. The Government will issue their response to this report shortly and will consult in full on any recommendations to be taken forward. These consultations will include any individuals or organisations affected by any proposed changes.

Further to this, I already have regular dialogue with Remploy management and unions.

Employment: Hearing Impairment

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support his Department provides for deaf and hard of hearing people to help them enter employment; and if he will make a statement. [61431]

Maria Miller: The Department is implementing welfare to work reforms which aim to fight poverty, support the most vulnerable and help people, including deaf and hard of hearing people, to break any cycle of benefit dependency and to find employment.

Jobcentre Plus is committed to helping disabled people find a suitable, sustainable job in their local area through the support it delivers through its network of advisers. Advisers now have more responsibility to assess individuals' needs within local labour markets and to offer them the support they think is most appropriate, including a number of 'Get Britain Working' measures, designed to provide help for those seeking work or to move into self employment. The exact nature and range of help on offer, delivered in conjunction with local and national partner organisations, will vary from area to area as local managers have the discretion to deliver the services that they believe will help people in their area to secure work the most.

In addition, disability employment advisers can identify suitable job opportunities and act as an advocate for customers with employers, if appropriate. They will also aim to identify work solutions that will overcome or minimise difficulties relating to a customer's disability and can signpost customers and their employers to the Access to Work Service. Jobcentre Plus also has specialist programmes that help disabled people move into paid work, such as Residential Training and Work Choice. Disability employment advisers also use the professional expertise of work psychologists specialising in working with disabled people.

Underpinning 'Get Britain Working' is the introduction of the Work Programme which was launched on 1 June. The Work Programme will provide a single, personalised, welfare to work programme for all customer groups. It will be delivered through a combination of contracted employment provision via private, public and voluntary sectors as well as Jobcentre Plus led service delivery. The Work Programme will simplify the complex array of existing employment programmes and deliver coherent, integrated support, more capable of dealing with complex

27 Jun 2011 : Column 601W

and overlapping barriers to work, providing personalised help for people who find themselves out of work regardless of the benefit they claim. Disability employment advisers will also be able to refer claimants to Work Programme where appropriate.

Foreign Workers: EU Nationals

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent steps his Department has taken to prevent fraudulent claims by EU migrant workers claiming benefits in the UK. [60052]

Chris Grayling: EU nationals who have worked and paid sufficient national insurance contributions, and meet the other conditions of entitlement, may be entitled to contributory benefits such as jobseeker's allowance. Those who have not paid sufficient contributions may claim income-related benefits providing they satisfy the habitual residence test and meet the other conditions of entitlement. EU nationals may also be entitled to child benefit and tax credits if, among the usual conditions, they are physically present in the UK, ordinarily resident in the UK, and have a right to reside in the UK.

Robust gateway checks are already in place to prevent national insurance numbers (NINOs) being used fraudulently for the purpose of abusing the benefit system. For example, where the Department identifies that a NINO has been used for attempted benefit fraud or is aware that it may be vulnerable to fraudulent use, the relevant account is annotated accordingly on our systems and any subsequent benefit claim using that NINO would automatically be subjected to close scrutiny and, if appropriate, be referred to the Department's Fraud Investigation Service.

In addition to this, robust identity verification checks are in place to prevent fraudsters acquiring NINOs. During 2010-11, Jobcentre Plus refused to allocate 50,000 NINOs as the applicants had failed to meet one or more of the checks we have in place.

In 2009, following intelligence from Jobcentre Plus staff, DWP developed and introduced further checks to strengthen the NINO allocation process to counter fraud where individuals, often from countries within the EU, are trafficked into the UK by criminals for the purpose of fraudulently accessing the benefit and tax credits systems.

The Department keeps its benefit gateway checks under constant review and modifies them as necessary to ensure that only those who are entitled to social security benefits are receiving them.

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 21 June 2011, Official Report, columns 191-92W, on foreign workers: EU nationals, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the implications for immigration policy of his policy on habitual residency. [62057]

Chris Grayling: Ministers and officials of the Department for Work and Pensions and the Home Office have regular discussion on matters of mutual interest, including the habitual residence test.

The test is designed to prevent ‘benefit tourism’ by people who come here from abroad and immediately

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claim benefits, its purpose is to ensure that income-related benefits are paid to people with reasonably close ties to the UK and an intention to settle here.

Future Jobs Fund

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the effect of the cancellation of the Future Jobs Fund on the projections for unemployment made by the Office for Budget Responsibility in June 2010. [61761]

Chris Grayling: The Department has made no such estimates.

Habitual Residence

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 21 June 2011, Official Report, columns 192-93W, on habitual residence, who the decision makers are in respect of determining habitual residence; how many determinations were made in the latest period for which figures are available; what the cost to the public purse was of making such determinations; in which locations the determinations were made; and whether the outcome of a determination may be challenged. [62042]

Chris Grayling: Decisions on the habitual residence test are made by specialist Jobcentre Plus and Pension, Disability and Carers Service decision makers based in all benefit delivery offices and pension centres which process claims. In addition, there are two centralised specialist teams making habitual residence decisions for EEA nationals. The Jobcentre Plus team is part of Aberdeen benefit centre and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service team is based in the pension centre in Newcastle.

For the 12-month period from June 2010 to May 2011, there were 64,215 habitual residence decisions.

Information about costs for making a decision on the habitual residence test is not available.

All decisions made by a decision maker can be appealed. This includes habitual residence decisions.

Health and Safety Executive: Sonae

Mr George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on which dates the Health and Safety Executive inspected the Sonae factory in Kirkby in each of the last 10 years; and what the cost of each such visit was. [61237]

Chris Grayling: In the calendar years 2001 to 2010, the Health and Safety Executive has carried out inspections at the Sonae factory on the following dates:

11 July 2002; 4 October 2002; 15 October 2002; 8 February 2005; 8 April 2009 (with follow-up visit on 4 May 2009); 14 May 2009 and 26 March 2010.

HSE has also carried out an audit of the company, which involved visiting the site on 7 September 2007, 29 October 2007 and 13 March 2008.

HSE records do not include sufficient data to calculate the cost of each of these inspections.

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Mr George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on which dates the Health and Safety Executive initiated an investigation into the Sonae factory at Kirkby in each of the last 10 years; and what the cost was of each such investigation. [61238]

Chris Grayling: In the calendar years 2001 to 2010, the Health and Safety Executive has initiated 11 on-site investigations into incidents at the Sonae factory in Kirkby. These were initiated on:

27 March 2001;

4 September 2001;

1 June 2002;

17 June 2002;

20 November 2002;

1 March 2007;

9 May 2007;

15 November 2007;

27 August 2007;

10 November 2007;

27 August 2008;

10 November 2009; and

7 December 2010.

In addition, an investigation was initiated on 10 June 2011 into a fire that broke out earlier that same day.

HSE records do not include sufficient data to calculate the cost of each of these investigations. However, three of these investigations resulted in prosecution action; for these cases the costs of investigation and enforcement were applied for through the courts. For these three cases, costs were applied for, and awarded, as follows:

Investigation initiated 27 March 2001—costs applied for £9,284, partial costs of £6,417.20 awarded.

Investigation initiated 1 June 2002—costs applied for £77,046.08, full costs awarded.

Investigation initiated 17 June 2002—costs applied for £13,099.62, full costs awarded.

Hewlett Packard

Mrs Glindon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of Hewlett Packard’s application to offshore jobs from the application maintenance and support element of the Adams 2 contract it holds with his Department; how many jobs the company proposes to transfer overseas; and if he will assess the likely impact on benefit claimant rates in (a) the North East and (b) England if the application were granted. [61561]

Chris Grayling: The Department is reviewing plans to increase the amount of work delivered by HP from non-UK locations and this review has not yet been concluded. The exact location and number of jobs needed by HP to deliver the required services and its impact on their staff in the UK is a matter for HP to determine. Therefore the impact on benefit claims as a direct consequence cannot yet be assessed.

Jobcentre Plus

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance his Department provides to officials in Jobcentre Plus on targets for ending recipient’s entitlement to claim benefits. [60340]

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Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State for Work and for Pensions has asked me to reply to your question regarding the guidance his Department provides to officials in Jobcentre Plus on targets for ending recipient’s entitlement to claim benefits. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus is responsible for ensuring Jobseekers Allowance is paid to those customers who are eligible to receive it. Jobseekers are required to comply with certain conditions of entitlement, for example, being available for and actively seeking employment. Where a person unreasonably causes or prolongs their own unemployment, they may be subject to a sanction where their benefit is withheld for a set period.

Jobcentre Plus guidance to officials is clear that there is no right or wrong level of sanction referrals an office should make, and that a sanction is only applied where people have not adhered to their jobseeker obligations. Jobcentre Plus has neither targets, nor benchmarks, for sanctions in the current year.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether Jobcentre Plus compiles any performance ranking of its offices. [60366]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking whether Jobcentre Plus compile any performance ranking of its offices. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Under the new Performance Management Framework, introduced in April 2011, managers in Jobcentre Plus use a range of metrics to manage performance across the business.

At all management levels, performance management activity focuses on performance variation to drive continuous improvement. We look at site by site performance as well as comparisons between Groups and this enables us to share best practice as well as focusing on relative under performance.

Whilst Jobcentres are not ranked in terms of top-to-bottom performers, as different labour market conditions apply, Jobcentre Plus does rank its benefit and contact centres for internal purposes. Senior Management do keep the performance under regular review to ensure we understand variations in performance and continuously improve our impact and our services to the customer.

Jobcentre Plus: Scotland

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether any Jobcentre Plus services provided by centres in (a) Ayr, (b) Arbroath and (c) Clydebank will be moved outside Scotland when those centres close. [60361]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking whether any Jobcentre Plus services provided by centres in (a) Ayr (b) Arbroath and (c) Clydebank will be moved outside

27 Jun 2011 : Column 605W

Scotland when those centres close. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus Contact Centres (including Clydebank Contact Centre) are part of a virtual network. Within this network, calls are directed to the next available advisor with the appropriate skills to answer customers' enquiries. Therefore the transfer of services will occur via the virtual network, and we cannot confirm which calls will therefore be routed to other Scottish Centres.

Internally Jobcentre Plus is currently developing site by site plans for the movement of benefit work from the sites affected by our site rationalisation plans that were announced on 13th May which include Ayr and Arbroath. As yet, no decisions have been made on work movements, either within Scotland, or to other areas of Great Britain.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions at which locations in Scotland Jobcentre Plus officials share office accommodation with other Government agencies. [60364]

Chris Grayling: As the administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking at which locations in Scotland Jobcentre Plus officials share office accommodation with other Government Departments and their Executive Agencies. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus in Scotland currently shares many of its offices across the country with other UK Government Departments including: DWP's Pensions Disability and Carers Service; Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs; The Identity and Passport Service and many others. We also share accommodation with some agencies of the Scottish Government, for example Skills Development Scotland. I have attached a complete list

at Annex 1.

Under the terms of the Spending Review, DWP, including Jobcentre Plus, is being asked to make significant efficiencies in its work to meet a 26 per cent reduction in real terms from its core budget. To help achieve the level of efficiencies required we will be reviewing our network of Jobcentres to see if there are further opportunities for outreach or co-location, and scope for rationalisation of Jobcentres whilst retaining a local presence. Once we have developed our proposals we will share these with local stakeholders, including MPs and MSPs, as part of our normal consultation arrangements for service delivery.

Annex 1: Locations where Jobcentre Plus in Scotland share premises with other Government Departments and their Executive Agencies

Dundee Contact Centre

Paisley Contact Centre

Aberdeen Benefit Centre

Arbroath Benefit Centre

Greenock Benefit Centre

Glasgow Northgate Benefit Centre

Alexandria Jobcentre

Bellshill Jobcentre

Campbeltown Jobcentre

Dumfries Jobcentre

Dunfermline Jobcentre

Dunoon Jobcentre

Elgin Jobcentre

Fort William Jobcentre

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Galashiels Jobcentre

Govan Jobcentre

Hamilton Jobcentre

Hawick Jobcentre

Helensburgh Jobcentre

Inverness Jobcentre

Kirkwall Jobcentre

Lerwick Jobcentre

Livingston Jobcentre

Newlands Jobcentre

Oban Jobcentre

Perth Jobcentre

Peterhead Jobcentre

Port Glasgow Jobcentre

Saltcoats Jobcentre

Shettleston Jobcentre

Stirling Jobcentre

Stranraer Jobcentre

Wick Jobcentre.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) support and (b) guidance his Department is offering to officials in Jobcentre Plus following the decision to close centres in Scotland. [60367]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what (a) support and (b) guidance his Department is offering to officials in Jobcentre Plus following the decision to close centres in Scotland. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

I realise that the announcements which we made on 13th May regarding the closure of 22 benefit and contact centres will be unsettling to all staff. The line managers of staff at affected centres are available to support them, both now and throughout the next few months. Our immediate priority is to understand individual circumstances, and so we have just completed initial one-to-one discussions between the individuals and their line managers to discuss the closures and how it might affect them and to talk about their personal circumstances. We expect to have further one-to-one discussions throughout the period until closure.

Managers will also be able to answer or deal with any questions or concerns that staff may have. Where the manager does not have the necessary information we have introduced an issues escalation process.

In addition, staff who are union members may also want to speak to their Trade Union representative. We did arrange for a Trade Union representative to be on site on 13th May who took time to talk to members of staff. Since then, we have also allowed additional facility time for members of the PCS Group Executive Committee to attend sites to discuss the closures with staff.

If staff would prefer to speak with someone from outside the Department, our Employee Assistance provider, Right Corecare, is available 24 hours a day. Our contract with Right Corecare provides unlimited confidential access to their helplines on 0800 652 3304.

In addition, managers will have regular communications with staff and will keep them informed of any developments as they occur. We will also use the full range of our existing communications channels, including our intranet pages and events such as Your Call, which is a live audio conference event where people in Jobcentre Plus can speak directly to me and my Jobcentre Plus Board members to get answers to their questions.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 607W

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department plans any compulsory redundancies in respect of officials at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr. [60370]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking whether his Department plans any compulsory redundancies in respect of officials at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

DWP will always take all possible steps, including redeploying people into other jobs, to avoid compulsory redundancy. The Department has an excellent track record in securing alternative roles for its people and would not want to use public money for redundancy schemes unless absolutely necessary. Our plans to enlarge some sites, and our robust workforce planning and workforce management arrangements will all help us towards avoiding a situation where compulsory redundancy is necessary. However, we cannot guarantee this.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many officials at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr he plans to redeploy to other locations. [60372]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many officials at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr he plans to redeploy to other locations. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The 43 staff in Ayr will all receive an offer of redeployment within Jobcentre Plus, either locally or further afield. If those opportunities are further away we will help staff with travel costs. I cannot provide you with a firm estimate of the number of staff who will take up this offer of redeployment until we have completed further one to one discussions with every individual member of staff, which will allow us to understand their personal circumstances.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many clients were dealt with at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr in each of the last five years. [60373]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many clients have been dealt with at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr in each of the last five years. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Please see below the information for Ayr Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) Centre.

The information is only available from April 2008.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 608W

Claims received
  Performance year

2008-09 2009-10 2010-11

Ayr IIDB

3,757

7,355

4,066

Claims processed
  Performance year

2008-09 2009-10 2010-11

Ayr IIDB

3,975

7,287

4,571

Live load figures
  Performance year

December 2008 December 2009 December 2010

Ayr IIDB

34,001

33,702

34,164

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many officials were employed at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr in each of the last six years. [60374]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many officials were employed at the Jobcentre Plus centre in Ayr in each of the last six years. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Ayr Benefit Centre employed:

49 staff (42.11 whole time equivalent) in March 2009;

44 staff (37.52 whole time equivalent) in March 2010; and

43 staff (36.29 whole time equivalent) in March 2011.

The information is only available from April 2008.

Members: Correspondence

Mr Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when a substantive reply will be sent to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North of 4 May 2011 to the Child Support Agency, reference CSA/0262226. [62534]

Maria Miller: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the child maintenance commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.

Letter from Noel Shanahan:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when a substantive reply will be sent to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North of 4 May 2011 to the Child Support Agency reference CSA/0262226. [62534]

As details about individual cases are confidential I have written to you separately about this case.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 609W

Older Workers

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to promote active ageing in employment. [61778]

Steve Webb: Older workers are hugely important to our labour force and economy. Most have years of experience and knowledge to offer to employers and co-workers. Though employers' attitudes are changing, too many still believe in out-of-date age stereotypes concerning training, health and performance.

Through our Age Positive initiative, we are working with key business leaders to drive forward sustained improvements in the employment, training and retention of older workers by advising employers about the business benefits of investing in a mixed aged work force and developing flexible work and retirement opportunities. Information for all employers is given on:

www.businesslink.gov.uk/agepositive

The Government developed guidance and training to help employers manage their work forces without the use of compulsory retirement ages following regulations this year to phase out the Default Retirement Age. Information is given on:

www.acas.org.uk

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will bring forward proposals to promote events to raise awareness among (a) employers and (b) the general public of the need for greater intergenerational solidarity within an ageing workforce. [61779]

Steve Webb: We are working now with key business sector leaders to drive forward sustained improvements in the employment, training and retention of older workers as part of a mixed age workforce. We are providing sector leaders with expert resource to support employers' understanding about the business benefits of investing in older workers and how they might adopt effective age management practices including flexible work and flexible retirement opportunities. Information for all employers is given on:

www.businesslink.gov.uk/agepositive

The ACAS website:

www.acas.org.uk

gives information about planned training events to help employers manage their workforces without the use of compulsory retirement ages following regulations this year to phase out the Default Retirement Age.

We are currently inviting our partners, local authorities and community groups to organise events across the country in support of the 5(th) anniversary of UK Older People's Day, which takes place this year on 1 October. It will publicise and celebrate the huge contribution that older people make to our society and economy and help to tackle outdated and negative stereotypes. Additionally, the Government's Ageing Well programme is working with partners on a programme that gives councils a key opportunity to develop and promote intergenerational practice.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 610W

Pensions: Young People

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the effects of raising the state pension age on access to employment for young people. [61947]

Steve Webb: No assessment of the employment effects on younger people have been made.

However we believe that in the long-term increasing the state pension age and thereby increasing the number of older workers in work will lead to an increase in employment opportunities for younger workers.

The economy is stimulated by having more people in work, creating a greater labour market for people of all ages. Both UK and international evidence has found that more people in work helps the economy to grow, showing that, on an economy-wide level, older people in work do not block jobs for younger people. We need to ensure there are employment opportunities for both younger and older people.

Social Security Benefits

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what definition his Department uses of the term (a) active benefit and (b) inactive benefit. [61374]

Chris Grayling: There is no legislative definition of active or inactive benefit. Benefits can be regarded as active if entitlement does or can require the recipient to undertake labour-market or work-preparation activities as a condition of entitlement in order to improve the recipient’s chances of finding sustained work, so reducing the chances of long-term benefit dependency.

Currently, the benefits that could be regarded as active are jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance (in respect of those claimants in the work-related activity group). Other benefits such as income support and housing benefit do not contain an active labour-market attachment as a condition of entitlement.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the weekly monetary value is of (a) the state pension, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) jobseeker's allowance. [62686]

Steve Webb: The weekly rates of basic state pension and personal allowances and premiums in employment and support allowance and jobseeker's allowance are set out in the annual social security benefits uprating statement. I refer the hon. Member to the ministerial statement I gave on 9 December 2010, Official Report, column 47WS, which set out the rates of benefit for 2011.

Social Security Benefits: Correspondence

Charlotte Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to assist benefit claimants who are unable to read official correspondence due to (a) learning difficulties and (b) dyslexia. [60356]

27 Jun 2011 : Column 611W

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what steps his Department is taking to assist benefit claimants who are unable to read official correspondence due to (a) learning difficulties and (b) dyslexia. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The majority of Jobcentre Plus claimants currently make their claims over the telephone. Information is recorded electronically and this removes the need for a claim form to be read and completed by the claimant.

Other claimants can choose to apply for Jobseekers Allowance online via the “Do it online” section of the Directgov website. This provides the flexibility to access Jobcentre Plus services from their own homes, at a pace that suits, with, if appropriate, support from an advocate. Claimants can also submit an initial application for Employment Support Allowance via the internet claim service.

Should either of these channels represent a problem, clerical forms can be issued or, where appropriate, a face to face interview at the customer's local Jobcentre Plus office can be organised. Claimants who choose a face-to-face meeting might also wish to involve their own advocate or representative in this process.

Jobcentre Plus has a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to standard services where it is considered appropriate. Claimants can request the written information that Jobcentre Plus produces in an alternative format. Where Jobcentre Plus establishes that an alternative format is required, it is recommended good practice to record this so that future contact can be made in the same manner.

Jobcentre Plus staff are equipped to obtain documents in alternative formats, for example, large print or Easy Read, which uses simple language and images, making information easier to understand for people with learning difficulties.

If people with dyslexia and / or learning difficulties need extra help to find work, the Disability Employment Adviser can also offer support. Disability Employment Advisers are specially trained to enable them to help people with more complex barriers to employment. Examples include supporting the completion of application forms as well as acting as an advocate for the customer in approaches made to potential employers.

Social Security Benefits: E-mail

Charlotte Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has considered the merits of offering correspondence via e-mail for benefit claimants who cannot read but have access to electronic reading facilities. [60355]

Maria Miller: We want to ensure all our services are accessible to people. We are actively looking at e-mail as a way for claimants to contact the Department. However, it is not possible currently to guarantee the security of e-mail messages.

From 2012 working age benefit claimants will be able to register, via the Government Gateway, for a secure customer account which they can access through Directgov and, in 2013, universal credit will build on this capability. This account will improve our online claim services and we therefore expect to be able to make more use of e-mail and e-mail alerts.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 612W

Social Security Benefits: Health

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are in receipt of (a) employment support allowance and (b) disability living allowance as a result of a degenerative illness. [60663]

Chris Grayling: The information requested is given as follows.

It is important to note that the term 'degenerative disease' is a general one; it may apply to any condition that leads to gradual deterioration, therefore this can encompass a wide variety of conditions. This may include conditions as diverse as neurological, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal conditions and even cancer. Therefore all conditions have been provided in the tables.

Employment support allowance claimants by diagnosis group—November 2010

Number

Total

593,930

Claimants without any diagnosis code on the system

30

Certain Infectious and Parasitic Diseases

6,290

Neoplasms

22,630

Diseases of the Blood and Blood forming organs and certain Diseases involving the immune mechanism

1,380

Endocrine, Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases

8,360

Mental and Behavioural Disorders

234,670

Diseases of the Nervous System

25,080

Diseases of the Eye and Adnexa

3,380

Diseases of the Ear and Mastoid Process

1,930

Diseases of the Circulatory System

25,550

Diseases of the Respiratory System

12,360

Diseases of the Digestive System

11,380

Diseases of the Skin and Subcutaneous System

3,790

Diseases of the Musculoskeletal system and Connective Tissue

86,290

Diseases of the Genito-urinary System

5,480

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Puerperium

2,770

Certain Conditions Originating in the Perinatal Period

20

Congenital Malformations, Deformations and Chromosomal Abnormalities

1,420

Symptoms, Signs and Abnormal Clinical and Laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified

78,740

Injury, Poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes

55,690

Factors influencing Health Status and Contact with Health Services

6,700

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10; Totals may not sum due to rounding. 2. Employment and support allowance (ESA) replaced incapacity benefit and income support paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008. 3. Causes of incapacity are based on the International Classification of Diseases, 10(th) Revision, published by the World Health Organisation. 4. Under the employment support allowance regime, new claimants have to undergo the work capability assessment. 5. The medical condition recorded on the claim form does not itself confer entitlement to employment support allowance. 6. Medical condition is based on evidence provided at the start of the claim, this in itself does not confer entitlement to ESA and may not represent a claimant's most recent medical condition. Please note that where someone has more than one diagnosis or disabling condition, only the predominant one is currently recorded. 7. Data is available on the Department's website at: http://83.244.183.180/100pc/tabtool.html Source: DWP Information Directorate: 100% Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
Disability living allowance cases in payment by diagnosis— November 2010

Number

All

3,181,000

Arthritis

585,500

Muscle/Joint/Bone Disease

210,200

27 Jun 2011 : Column 613W

Blindness/Visual Disease

70,000

Stroke Related

111,200

Learning Difficulty

373,100

Mental Health Causes

512,800

Epilepsy

74,000

Deafness

42,500

Malignant Disease

83,000

Chest Disease

94,600

Back Ailments

249,300

Heart Disease

136,700

Parkinson's Disease

19,100

Diabetes Mellitus

59,600

Renal Disorders

16,600

AIDS

8,800

Skin Disease

16,700

Frailty

2,800

Multiple Sclerosis

69,400

Other

445,300

Notes: 1. The preferred statistics on benefits are now derived from 100% data sources. However, the 5% sample data still provides some detail not yet available from the 100% data sources, in particular, more complete information on the disabling condition of DLA claimants. DWP recommends that, where the detail is only available on the 5% sample data, or disabling condition (DLA) is required, the proportions derived should be scaled up to the overall 100% total for the benefit. This has been done here. 2. Case load figures are rounded to the nearest hundred. 3. Case load totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance and exclude those with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital. 4. A diagnosed medical condition does not mean that someone is automatically entitled to DLA. Entitlement is dependent on an assessment of how much help someone needs with personal care and/or mobility because of their disability. These statistics are only collected for administrative purposes. Source: Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5% sample.

Social Security Benefits: Interviews

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many benefit recipients have had their entitlement to claim benefits ended as a result of being late for an interview in each month since the introduction of the relevant rule. [60341]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State for Work and for Pensions has asked me to reply to your question regarding the number of benefit recipients whose entitlement to claim benefits ended as a result of being late for an interview. You have asked for this information for each month since the introduction of the relevant rule. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

If a claimant is late, but attends on the same day, a sanction isn’t generally applied but the claimant will be warned about the impact that any future late attendance can have on their benefit. Data on these types of cases are not collected separately.

Since April 2010, legislation has provided for a sanction to be applied when a Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant fails to attend an appointment without good cause. The sanction is for a one week loss of benefit, extending to two weeks for the second and each subsequent failure thereafter. The numbers of sanctions applied in these circumstances are in the table below.

Data are not collected for Income Support and Incapacity Benefit and data for Employment Support Allowance has only been available since 18 May 2011 and is, therefore, of limited value.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 614W

Great Britain

Number

Total

225,030

April 2010

15,590

May 2010

22,220

June 2010

26,690

July 2010

25,900

August 2010

24,410

September 2010

25,390

October 2010

23,780

November 2010

24,410

December 2010

16,440

January 2011

20,170

Figures are rounded to the nearest ten. Some additional disclosure control has been applied. Totals may not sum due to rounding method used.

The source of the information is DWP Information Directorate: JSA Sanctions and Disallowance Decisions Statistics Database. Figures are published at:

http://83.244.183.180/sanction/sanction/LIVE/tabtool.html

Social Security Benefits: Overpayments

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the contribution of the Minister of State for Work and Pensions of 13 June 2011, Official Report, Welfare Reform Bill Committee, column 503, what mechanisms are in place to recover overpayment of benefits to EU migrant workers from other EU member states once they have left the UK; and whether any reciprocal arrangements are in place with other EU member states. [61305]

Chris Grayling: Once an EU migrant leaves the United Kingdom and moves to another country within the EU, recovery can be made by that country under EU legislation. This legislation provides for recovery of overpayments either from arrears of benefit, by deduction from ongoing payments of benefit or by instalments if benefit is not in payment. The legislation also allows for enforcement action to be taken through the courts of the country in which the person is now residing where that action is appropriate.

The legislation provides for one member state to take this action on behalf of another member state.

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many instances overpayment of benefits to migrant workers from other EU member states was successfully reclaimed after the individual had left the UK in the latest period for which figures are available. [61306]

Chris Grayling: Data to determine the number of successfully reclaimed overpayment of benefits to migrant workers from other EU member states, after leaving the United Kingdom are not available.

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent on reclaiming overpayment of benefits to migrant workers from other EU member states following departure from the UK in the latest period for which figures are available. [61307]

27 Jun 2011 : Column 615W

Chris Grayling: Data to determine the amount that is spent on reclaiming overpayment of benefits to EU migrant workers in the UK are not available.

Unemployment: Cancer

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information his Department holds on the average number of months persons diagnosed with cancer were certified as unable to undertake work in the latest period for which figures are available. [61498]

Chris Grayling: The system of medical certification by GPs is paper-based and data on the duration of medical certificates are not held centrally. Employers are not obliged to report on duration and causes of statutory sick pay payments.

Work Capability Assessment: Appeals

Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many work capability assessments were made contrary to the recommendation of a general practitioner on behalf of a claimant in the latest period for which figures are available. [61403]

Chris Grayling: Prior to a work capability assessment general practitioner's provide “Fit Notes” as evidence of incapacity in relation to the work that an individual has currently been doing (for those in work). This evidence does not provide a view on benefit entitlement.

A decision on employment and support allowance benefit entitlement is made by a DWP decision-maker, based on advice from specifically trained health care professionals from Atos Healthcare, who are able to provide independent and robust advice regarding an individual's functional capability.

The information requested is not therefore available.

Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many work capability assessments in respect of persons diagnosed with a mental health condition were refused in the latest period for which figures are available; and how many such decisions were subsequently overturned on appeal. [61404]

Chris Grayling: There were 132,800 Fit for Work decisions for new employment and support allowance (ESA) claims made up to the end of February 2010, where the primary health condition was classed as mental and behavioural disorders. There were 50,100 appeals heard against these decisions, and of these 21,200 (42%) were cases where the decision was overturned in favour of the appellant.

The above figures come from benefit claims data held by the Department for Work and Pensions, functional assessment data from Atos Healthcare, and appeals data from the Tribunals Service. Figures are only available for appeals that have been completed and not for those that are currently under way.

Data on appeals heard are published for new ESA claims starting between October 2008, when ESA was introduced, and up to the end of February 2010 (the latest month where there are sufficient volumes of appeals heard). Appeals data are only included where the person

27 Jun 2011 : Column 616W

claiming has been found fit for work, they have subsequently appealed against the Department's decision and the appeal has been heard by the Tribunals Service.

Due to the time it takes for appeals to be submitted to the Tribunals Service and heard, it is likely that there are more appeals that have not yet been heard. As a result these figures should continue to be treated as emerging findings and not final at this stage.

Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people who failed a work capability assessment in the last 12 months subsequently had the decision overturned on appeal. [61477]

Chris Grayling: Between March 2009 and February 2010, 258,900 claims for employment and support allowance (ESA) were found fit for work at the initial work capability assessment (WCA). Of these, 34,700 had their entitlement to ESA reinstated after an appeal was heard by the Tribunals Service.

The figure above comes from benefit claims data held by the Department for Work and Pensions, functional assessment data from Atos Healthcare and appeals data from the Tribunals Service. Figures are only available for appeals that have been completed and not for those that are currently under way.

The figure above has been rounded to the nearest 100. Appeals data are only available for claims starting up to February 2010.

Due to the time it takes for appeals to be submitted to the Tribunals Service and heard, it is likely that there are more appeals that have not yet been heard.

The Department regularly publishes official statistics on ESA and the WCA. The latest report was published in April 2011 and can be found on the internet at the following link:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_wca/index. php?page=esa_wca_arc

Business, Innovation and Skills

Adult Education

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effects of the reductions in his Department's budget on the availability and quality of adult learning opportunities. [61758]

Mr Hayes [holding answer 23 June 2011]: An assessment of the policies announced in the White Paper ‘Skills for Sustainable Growth’, which are underpinned by ‘Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth’, was published on 17 November 2010.(1) These policies reflect the fact that in the current economic climate further education must work within a more limited budget.

An assessment of the impact of those policy commitments that are subject to the passage of the Education Bill through both Houses of Parliament has been published by the Department for Education (DfE). These impact assessments(2) cover all matters that are considered in the Bill including the removal of the skills entitlement at Level 3 and Level 2 for individuals over the age of 23 and plans to streamline Ofsted inspection.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 617W

The Government are committed to freeing colleges and providers from central control and regulation so they are better able to respond to the needs of the learners, employers and communities they serve. The sector has identified that the assurance processes used to monitor performance are excessive. Providers offering a quality learning experience should expect minimal external intervention. However, poor providers must expect greater scrutiny and a requirement to make rapid improvements, or lose funding for some (or all) of their provision.

We have taken steps to free colleges and providers from central controls and bureaucracies. This is based on our approach of trusting the sector's leadership and staff and their proven record to date in raising performance. In return, we expect providers to demonstrate their maturity by taking responsibility for their own performance and engaging with stakeholders about their record on delivery.

(1) Equality impact assessment for White Paper and Skills Investment Strategy:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/further-education-skills/docs/s/10-1284-skills-for-sustainable-growth-investing-equality-impact.pdf

(2) Overall impact assessments for Education Bill:

http://www.education.gov.uk/home/aboutdfe/departmentalinformation/educationbill/a0073748/education-bill

Animal Experiments

Henry Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department is developing a national strategy on the use of non-human primates in scientific research. [60011]

Mr Prisk: The coalition Government agreement includes a commitment to work to reduce the use of all animals in scientific research, including non-human primates (NHPs). We believe this is an ambitious but essential and achievable goal and that scientific advances present significant opportunities to replace animal use, to reduce the number of animals used, and, where animal use is unavoidable, to refine the procedures involved so as to minimise suffering. These long-standing aims are referred to as the 3Rs.

In its report on the use of NHPs in research published in 2006, an expert group chaired by Professor Sir David Weatherall made 16 recommendations; the Department is awaiting the findings of the review of publicly funded research envisaged in the fourth of these recommendations. The Department will then be in a position to develop a strategy for the use (and non-use) of NHPs.

Intellectual Policy

Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of patent applications from (a) small and medium-sized businesses and (b) others. [61575]

27 Jun 2011 : Column 618W

Mr Davey: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) provides support and advice to all types of business, particularly innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to enable them to understand how they can best use intellectual property, including patents, to benefit their business. However it is not a specific goal of the IPO simply to increase numbers of patent applications because applications which are legally or commercially weak do not benefit their applicants, and can cause uncertainties for other businesses, including for innovative SMEs. This issue was identified in the recent report ‘Digital Opportunity’ by Professor Ian Hargreaves, which the Government are currently considering.

Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to improve patent protection for small and medium-sized businesses. [61576]

Mr Davey: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) provides support and advice to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to assist them in using their intellectual property, including patents, effectively. Enforcement of rights is of particular concern for SMEs. The IPO has taken steps to improve this by providing: a low cost opinions service for patents as well as a mediation service.

Following the Jackson Review, the Government have made changes to the patents county court, to reduce costs. These include streamlined procedures, a fixed scale of recoverable costs capped at £50,000 and a damages cap of £500,000. The costs cap is designed to provide certainty to SMEs worried about a large cost award against them should they lose against a well funded opponent.

Business: Expenditure

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what proportion of net capital expenditure was attributable to small and medium-sized enterprises in (a) each year since 2005 and (b) 2011 to date. [62024]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated June 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question on what proportion of net capital expenditure was attributable to small and medium-sized enterprises (a) in each year since 2005 and (b) in 2011 to date. (62024)

The information available is provided in the table below. Estimates for 2011 are not available until 28th June 2011.

Annual Business Survey (2005) and Quarterly Capital Expenditure Survey (2006-2010)
Small, Medium and Large enterprises, Net capital expenditure (£ million)

Small ent. (0-99 emp) Net Capex million ) Small ent. % of total Medi um ent. (100-299 emp) Net Capex million ) Medium ent. % of total Large ent. (300+ emp) Net Capex million ) Large ent. % of total Total Net Capex million )

2005

23,953

28

9,861

11

52,980

61

86,794

2006q1

4,377

21

3,378

16

13,231

63

20,986

27 Jun 2011 : Column 619W

27 Jun 2011 : Column 620W

2006q2

4,565

22

3,615

17

12,638

61

20,818

2006q3

4,608

20

3,983

17

14,381

63

22,972

2006q4

4,948

20

4,678

18

15,911

62

25,537

               

2007q1

4,970

20

4,281

18

15,143

62

24,394

2007q2

5,032

22

4,046

17

14,397

61

23,475

2007q3

5,216

21

4,531

18

15,391

61

25,138

2007q4

5,516

19

4,779

17

18,040

64

28,335

               

2008q1

5,352

22

4,063

17

14,810

61

24,225

2008q2

5,082

21

4,361

18

15,061

61

24,504

2008q3

4,790

19

4,483

18

15,718

63

24,991

2008q4

4,526

17

4,293

17

16,994

66

25,814

               

2009q1

3,595

17

3,256

15

14,519

68

21,370

2009q2

3,593

19

3,123

17

12,108

64

18,824

2009q3

3,674

18

2,949

15

13,200

67

19,823

2009q4

4,050

19

3,266

15

13,995

66

21,311

               
               
               

2010q1

3,762

18

3,037

15

13,697

67

20,496

2010q2

3,651

19

3,297

17

12,656

64

19,604

2010q3

3,981

19

3,368

16

13,920

65

21,269

2010q4

3,999

17

3,704

16

15,695

67

23,398

Source: Office for National Statistics

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Alison McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what research his Department funds on the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. [61657]

Mr Willetts: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is an independent body which receives its grant in aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The MRC supports research into all aspects of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), and welcomes high-quality research applications in this area. The selection of projects for funding is determined through peer review. The MRC provided £109,000 to projects researching CFS/ME in 2009-10; details of the projects supported can be found at:

http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Ourresearch/ResearchInitiatives/CFSME/index.htm

The MRC recently launched a call for proposals to support high quality, innovative research to increase the current knowledge base of CFS/ME and draw in expertise and resource from related fields. Applications were required to address the mechanisms underlying chronic changes related to CFS/ME particularly focusing on one or more of the following areas: autonomic dysfunction, cognitive symptoms, fatigue, immune dysregulation, pain and sleep disorders. The application deadline was 7 June and up to £1.5 million will be made available to support research proposals; the MRC expects to announce any awards towards the end of the year.

Diamond Resorts International

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what representations he has received on the changes made by Diamond Resorts International to the terms and conditions of former members of Sunterra; whether his Department has discussed this matter with Diamond Resorts International; and whether his Department has provided any support to former members of Sunterra following the change. [62475]

Mr Davey: Since the general election I have received 25 items of correspondence referring to changes made by Diamond Resorts International to timeshare contracts with former members of Sunterra. The Department is unable to intervene in individual disputes between contracting parties and has not, therefore, discussed this matter with Diamond Resorts International. In response to correspondence I and my officials have provided advice and have passed their concerns to the Office of Fair Trading for any action it may deem appropriate under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

I have also responded to two written parliamentary questions, one to my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) on 29 March 2011, Official Report, column 313W, and the other to the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) on 30 March 2011, Official Report, column 348W.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 621W

EU External Trade: India

Mr Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and India; and what assessment he has made of the effects of such an agreement on (a) employment levels and (b) skills in the UK. [61968]

Mr Davey: There is regular dialogue between the Department and Ministers and officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the high commission in New Delhi.

Studies suggest the net benefit to the UK of a free trade agreement between the EU and India could amount to around £2 billion over 10 years. The studies suggest that there would probably be little net long-term impact on employment levels, although there could be some movement of employment between sectors.

Mr Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent discussions his Department has had with representatives of trade unions on the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and India. [61969]

Mr Davey: Officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have met with trade union representatives to discuss a range of union interests in the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and India.

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), also regularly meets the TUC general secretary to discuss issues of mutual interest. Recent meetings have included discussion on the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and India.

Mr Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he expects a free trade agreement between the EU and the Indian Government to be signed; and if he will make a statement. [62173]

Mr Davey: We hope for conclusion of the agreement by the EU-India summit in December 2011. The signature of the agreement will take place at a later date, once the formal EU process of translating the final text into all member states' languages has been completed. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will announce conclusion and signature of the agreement once this has taken place.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the liability of the Export Credits Guarantee Department was in respect of (a) Airbus, (b) other aerospace goods, (c) other civil goods and (d) military goods at 31 March 2011. [59338]

Mr Davey: The Export Credits Guarantee Department's (ECGD) contingent liability (net of reinsurance) as at 31 March is shown in the following table. Contingent liability in respect of Airbus relates to obligors (airlines,

27 Jun 2011 : Column 622W

operating lessors, etc.) for which ECGD guaranteed export credit loans have been made available in connection with the export of Airbus aircraft.


£ million

(a) Airbus civil aerospace transactions

5,807

(b) Other civil aerospace

195

(c) Civil (non-aerospace)

2,518

(d) Defence

1,144

Total

9,664

Focus Stores: B & Q

Mr Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills by what date he expects the Office of Fair Trading to make a ruling on the proposed takeover of Focus Stores by B&Q plc; and if he will make a statement. [61979]

Mr Davey: The Office of Fair Trading has announced that it will make a decision on this case by 5 August, though it may reach a conclusion earlier. Its investigation is being done under its informal submission process which provides for an administrative deadline of 40 working days. The regulatory control of mergers is a matter for the Office of Fair Trading as the UK's independent competition authority.

Higher Education: Admissions

Elizabeth Truss: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of university places for (a) accountancy, (b) actuarial science, (c) aeronautical engineering, (d) architecture, (e) biochemistry, (f) biology, (g) biomedical sciences, (h) business studies, (i) chemical engineering, (j) chemistry, (k) computing, (l) dentistry, (m) dietetics, (n) economics, (o) electrical and electronic engineering, (p) engineering (general), (q) environmental science studies, (r) geography, (s) geology and earth science, (t) managements studies, (u) materials sciences, (v) mathematics, (w) mechanical engineering, (x) medicine, (y) optometry, (z) orthoptics, (aa) pharmacy, (bb) philosophy, (cc) physics, (dd) physiotherapy, (ee) psychology, (ff) sports science, (gg) surveying, (hh) teacher training and (ii) veterinary science in 2011-12. [61590]

Mr Willetts [holding answer 23 June 2011]: This information is not available; we do not plan for the number of students at a course or subject level. The actual number of places on courses in each subject will depend on the decisions of individual universities. We expect the total number of places on all courses in 2011/12 to be broadly similar to 2010/11.

Mortgages: Competition

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what advice he has received on the application of EU competition rules on restraint of trade to the introduction of alternative business structures in the mortgage conveyancing market. [61414]

Mr Davey: None. Matters relating to the application of EU and UK competition law to markets fall to the Office of Fair Trading.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 623W

National Physical Laboratory

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what targets he has set for the outcome of the funding of the National Physical Laboratory's space measurements programme. [62427]

Mr Davey: The Department does not have a space measurements programme with the National Physical Laboratory.

There are however some projects within the portfolio of National Measurement System (NMS) programmes, managed by the National Measurement Office, which include aspects in support of space science and technology. In particular these involve the provision of optical measurement standards to underpin earth observation and measurements of the sun, and time measurement, providing standards to underpin current and future global navigation satellite systems. This NMS capability is enabling National Physical Laboratory to contribute to international research collaborations and undertake specific support contracts for European Space Agency and companies in the space industry.

New Businesses: Costs

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the start-up rates were of businesses in the (a) most and (b) least deprived areas in (i) each year since 2005 and (ii) the latest period for which figures are available. [62184]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated June 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what the start-up rates were of businesses in the (a) most and (b) least deprived areas in (i) each year since 2005 and (ii) the latest period for which figures are available. [62184]

Annual statistics on the number of enterprise births are available from the ONS release on Business Demography at:

www.statistics.gov.uk

However, unfortunately these statistics are not available based on the deprivation of a particular area.

Postal Services

Karl Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what proportion of letters for (a) walk sorting and (b) walk sequencing by Royal Mail were automated in the latest period for which figures are available; [61962]

(2) how many (a) mail centres and (b) delivery offices in the Royal Mail network were in operation in the latest period for which figures are available. [61963]

Mr Davey: The information requested is an operational matter for Royal Mail. I have therefore asked Moya Greene, the chief executive of Royal Mail, to respond directly to the hon. Member and a copy of her replies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

27 Jun 2011 : Column 624W

Self-employed: Ethnic Groups

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the self-employment rate was among (a) black and mixed ethnic groups and (b) all ethnic groups in (i) each year since 2005 and (ii) 2011 to date. [61892]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated June 2011:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what self-employment rates were recorded among (a) black and mixed ethnic groups and (b) all ethnic groups in (i) each year since 2005 and (ii) 2011 to date (61892).

The table provided contains the information requested. The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey. As with any sample survey, the estimates are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Self-employment rates for people aged 16 and over by ethnic groups (1) : Three months ending March, 2005 to 2011, United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted

Number of self-employed as a percentage of all aged 16 and over

Black and mixed ethnic groups

 

2005

4.7

2006

5.3

2007

5.1

2008

6.2

2009

4.8

2010

5.7

2011

4.7

   

All ethnic groups

 

2005

7.5

2006

7.7

2007

7.9

2008

7.9

2009

7.8

2010

7.9

2011

7.9

(1 )Using the National Statistics standard classification of ethnic groups. Source: Labour Force Survey