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Senior Civil Servants: Ethnic Minorities

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of senior civil servants in his Department were from an ethnic minority in March (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012; and if he will make a statement. [98872]

Mr Bellingham: 86% of senior civil servants in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have supplied information about their ethnicity. Based on this information, the proportion of senior civil servants in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) who are from an ethnic minority background was as follows:

3.3% on 1 March 2010

3.5% on 1 March 2011

4.0% on 1 March 2012

Egypt

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether (a) Ministers and (b) officials of his Department have had discussions with (i) the United States Department of State, (ii) the US ambassador to the UK, (iii) other American officials, (iv) the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, (v) the Egyptian ambassador to the UK and (vi) other Egyptian officials on Youssef Boutros-Ghali; [99027]

(2) whether he has received representations from (a) the United States Department of State, (b) the ambassador of the United States of America to the UK, (c) other American officials, (d) the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, (e) the Egyptian ambassador to the UK and (f) other Egyptian officials concerning Youssef Boutros-Ghali. [99028]

Alistair Burt: The Government do not comment on discussions or representations in relation to particular individuals.

EU Accession

Stephen Phillips: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the progress made by Bulgaria and Romania against post-EU accession benchmarks. [98370]

Mr Lidington: The latest interim reports on Bulgarian and Romanian progress were published on 8 February 2012. The report on Romania was broadly positive, noting an increase in the number of convictions for high-level corruption and the adoption of a code of conduct for conflicts of interests in the management of public funds. However, the report pointed to the need to improve the record on recovering proceeds of crime.

The reports noted that the Bulgarian Specialised Court and Prosecution Office on Organised Crime were now up and running, and the Commission for Identification of forfeiture of criminal assets was beginning to deliver significant results. But much more needs to be done, for example in improving transparency in the Supreme Court and improving accountability within the judiciary and investigative authorities. The full text of the reports can be accessed at:

http://ec.europa.eu/cvm/progress_reports_en.htm

12 Mar 2012 : Column 61W

The council conclusions adopted by the General Affairs Council on 28 February 2012 reflected the UK's views and represented a fair assessment of the reports:

http://ec.europa.eu/cvm/key_documents_en.htm

Guatemala

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on death threats and aggression against members of the Verapaz Union of Peasant Farmer Associations and the communities it supports in Guatemala. [99143]

Mr Jeremy Browne: Our embassy in Guatemala City monitors closely the human rights situation in the country. Our staff there are in contact with both the Verapaz Union and Peace Brigades International (PBI), a non- governmental organisation, which works closely with the Verapaz Union about threats made to its members. We also work with PBI in the UK on this issue, as well as with the EU. We welcome the new Guatemalan Government's commitment to upholding human rights. We will continue to monitor the human rights situation in Guatemala and to raise concerns with the Guatemalan Government. We most recently did so on 7 March with Guatemala's Attorney-General, Claudia Paz y Paz.

Lesotho

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in his Department are responsible for Lesotho; and where they are located. [99409]

Mr Bellingham: There is one London-based desk officer whose responsibilities include covering Lesotho. The non-resident high commissioner and deputy high commissioner to Lesotho are based in the British high commission in Pretoria. Other officials in Pretoria cover Lesotho as necessary.

Libya

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Libyan authorities on the release of British journalists held in that country; [98694]

(2) what steps he is taking to secure the release of British journalists held in Libya. [98695]

Alistair Burt: Our ambassador to Tripoli has consistently raised the case with the Libyan authorities at a senior level. We have sought, and received, assurances that the two British nationals will be handed over to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible and that they should be able to seek legal representation should any charges be brought against them. We hope the handover will happen soon and will continue to press the authorities as necessary. Consular staff continue to provide assistance to the detainees and their families, in line with our policy.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that those responsible for the attacks on a British war cemetery in Libya are brought to justice. [98697]

12 Mar 2012 : Column 62W

Alistair Burt: British embassy officials immediately visited the sites and raised this issue with the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Benghazi Chief of Police. Our ambassador also raised our concerns with the Deputy Foreign Minister, the Minister of Interior and the offices of National Transitional Council Chairman Abdul Jalil and Prime Minister al-Kib. In response to these incidents, Foreign Minister Khayyal and Chairman Abdul-Jalil made statements condemning the attacks, and the Transitional Government have published a statement on their official website, describing the damage as “unethical, irresponsible and criminal” and making clear that the Libyan Government “severely denounces such shameful acts and vows to find and prosecute the perpetrators according to Libyan law”. The Libyan authorities have instructed the police to make regular patrols to ensure no further attacks occur. We will continue to reiterate to the Libyan authorities the importance of a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the development of new political parties in Libya; what support his Department is providing to such parties; and if he will make a statement. [99122]

Alistair Burt: After over 40 years without democratic elections or political parties, the development of new parties is still at an early stage, although the enthusiasm for forming groups is high. We are currently funding a number of projects aimed at encouraging women and youth engagement in the political process and are providing a contribution to the UN’s electoral assistance programme, which will begin to address some of the issues the Libyans face in holding elections to a National Congress. Full legislative elections are not scheduled until 2013. We will be considering support in this area as part of our programme for assistance in the coming financial year.

Lockerbie: Bombings

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the Lord Advocate's letter to the Libyan Government on Lockerbie is acted upon. [98285]

Alistair Burt: Our ambassador in Libya has encouraged the Libyan authorities to respond to the Lord Advocate's letter requesting Libyan co-operation with the Lockerbie investigation under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the UK and Libya when he handed the letter over to the Libyan Foreign Minister on 21 February. The Government will continue to press the Libyan Transitional Government for a positive and timely response.

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ask the Libyan Government to publish all documents, letters, records of meetings and other material relating to the Lockerbie bombing. [98286]

Alistair Burt: The Government will continue to urge the Libyan Transitional Government to co-operate with the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary's open investigation into the Lockerbie bombing, including allowing access to information and individuals relevant to their investigation.

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Macedonia

Karen Lumley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of Macedonia's prospects for NATO membership. [98412]

Mr Lidington: The UK is a strong supporter of Macedonia's ambitions to join NATO. We welcome the progress they have made through the Membership Action Plan process and we hope to welcome the country into the alliance as soon as possible. Macedonia is a valued participant in NATO-led operations in Afghanistan. The NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008 concluded that Macedonia would be invited to join as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue with Greece had been found. This position was reaffirmed at the Lisbon summit in 2010, and in the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Communiqué of December 2011.

Maldives

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK nationals requested consular support in the Maldives in the last month. [99206]

Alistair Burt: Between 7 February and 7 March 2012, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided consular assistance or advice in relation to 16 British nationals in the Maldives.

North Korea

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of North Korea on (a) human rights and humanitarian concerns, (b) access to that country for the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea since the death of Kim Jong-il and (c) access to that country for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations. [98902]

Mr Jeremy Browne: Since the death of Kim Jong-il, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right hon. Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has not had discussions with the Government of North Korea on the issues of human rights and humanitarian concerns, access for the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea, and access for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations. However, I met the North Korean ambassador to London on 29 February 2012 and raised our concerns on human rights. I also spoke at the Westminster Hall debate on human rights in North Korea in January and made the British Government’s view on North Korea's human rights record quite clear. We brought this debate to the attention of the North Korean Government.

In March, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials raised the question of access to North Korea for the UN Special Rapporteur with the North Korean ambassador to London. While we have not recently raised the specific issue of access for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations, we will look for opportunities to do so.

12 Mar 2012 : Column 64W

We also remain in close contact with aid organisations operating in North Korea, including the World Food Programme, a food and agriculture organisation.

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the level of religious freedom in North Korea. [98904]

Mr Jeremy Browne: I met the North Korean ambassador to the UK on 29 February and made clear to him that the UK remains very concerned about the humanitarian and human rights situation, including religious freedom in North Korea. This is why the UK regularly co-sponsors an annual North Korea-specific resolution in the UN General Assembly on human rights. It is also why we welcomed last month's report to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea. We continue to urge North Korea to allow the UN Special Rapporteur to North Korea to be allowed to visit the country to assess the situation.

Palestinians: Prisoners

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise with the Israeli Government the detention of Palestinian prisoners without charge or trial. [99105]

Alistair Burt: We continue to encourage the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, including in their policies on detention and the treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

I raised Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention most recently with the Israeli ambassador to London on 23 February and the Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister on 27 February. Our officials in Tel Aviv also regularly raise concerns with the Israeli authorities over the use of administrative detention and the treatment of prisoners.

Serbia: Ghana

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held with the Commonwealth Secretariat on the expulsion by Serbia of the ambassador of Ghana. [98289]

Mr Lidington: Despite media reporting regarding the absence of the Ghanaian ambassador to Serbia, I am not aware of official statements from either Government clarifying the situation. I have held no discussions with the Commonwealth Secretariat on the issue.

Serbia: Kosovo

Stephen Phillips: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage Serbia to improve relations and co-operation with Kosovo. [98361]

Mr Lidington: Ministers and officials use every opportunity to encourage Serbia to improve relations and co-operation with Kosovo. We do so in our bilateral meetings, by repeatedly reiterating our strong support for the EU-facilitated dialogue between the two countries,

12 Mar 2012 : Column 65W

and by ensuring that the EU conditionality, which requires potential EU candidates to ensure good neighbourly relations and regional co-operation, is upheld. We also encourage Serbia to demonstrate a constructive and responsible approach to relations with Kosovo in regional and international fora.

Karen Lumley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of recent developments in negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo and the effect of those developments on Serbia's bid for EU candidate status. [98413]

Mr Lidington: A meeting of the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo took place from 22-24 February 2012, where agreement was reached on Kosovo's participation in regional forums and a technical protocol was concluded on implementation of an agreement on management of the border between Kosovo and Serbia. These developments are very welcome for the benefits they will bring to citizens, stability in the region and in enabling both countries to realise their EU ambitions.

The 28 February 2012 General Affairs Council assessed that Serbia had met the necessary conditions on Kosovo—part of which included reaching the agreements on regional forums and border management—and recommended granting EU candidate status to Serbia. The 1-2 March 2012 European Council confirmed this decision. We welcomed this outcome and hope Serbia will continue to make further progress in its relations with Kosovo.

Sri Lanka

Mr Virendra Sharma: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many unsuccessful asylum seekers have been forcibly removed to Sri Lanka other than by charter flight since May 2009. [97532]

Damian Green: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Home Department.

It is not possible to say what stage in the asylum process the nationals of any country have reached at the time of their removal, including whether their claim has failed at that point and they are failed asylum seekers, because those departing voluntarily can do so at any stage without notifying the UK Border Agency. For this reason, the answer can provide only the number of asylum cases removed.

Central management systems do not distinguish the number of enforced removals from the UK from the number of voluntary departures after enforcement action had been initiated.

It is not possible to identify from the available published data how many removals were made by means other than charter flights.

The following table shows the total number of enforced removals and notified voluntary departures of asylum cases from the UK to Sri Lanka from May 2009 to December 2011.

12 Mar 2012 : Column 66W

Enforced removals and notified voluntary departures (1, 2, 3) of asylum cases (4) ; to Sri Lanka (5) , May 2009 to December 2011
Number of departures
  May 2009 to December 2009 2010 (6) 2011 (6)

Enforced removals and notified voluntary departures to Sri Lanka

23

247

413

(1) Due to a reclassification of removal categories, figures include asylum removals performed by UK Border Agency officers using in-country powers of removal and a small number of cases dealt with at juxtaposed controls. (2) Figures include people leaving under facilitated return schemes. (3) Removals and voluntary departures recorded on the system as at the dates on which the data extracts were taken. (4) Figures include dependants. (5) Destination as recorded on source database. (6) Provisional figures. Figures will under record due to data cleansing and data matching exercises that take place after the extracts are taken.

The Home Office publishes quarterly and annual statistics on the number of persons removed or departed voluntarily from the UK within Immigration Statistics. The data on removals and voluntary departures are available in the latest release, Immigration Statistics: October—December 2011, tables rv.01 to rv.08, from the Library of the House and from the Home Office science, research and statistics web pages at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/research-statistics/migration/migration-statistics1/

St Helena

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his South African counterpart on the provision of broadband internet connection in St Helena. [99209]

Mr Bellingham: The provision of telecommunications is the responsibility of the St Helena Government. We are aware that a South African company has set out plans to lay a fibre-optic cable connecting South Africa and Brazil and that the Government of St Helena have had initial discussions with them about the feasibility and costs of a link to St Helena. If the developers proceed with the project then a full economic assessment would be needed to consider the extent of the economic and social benefits that such a link could bring to St Helena.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to increase the provision of broadband internet connection in St Helena; and if he will make a statement. [99210]

Mr Bellingham: The provision of telecommunications within the Overseas Territories is an area of devolved responsibility. On St Helena, it is the responsibility of the St Helena Government. In 2010, support from the British Government funded an increase in bandwidth to enable students and teachers at the secondary school in St Helena, Prince Andrew High School, adult students at the Adult and Vocational Education College, and the hospital to benefit from faster internet speeds and distance learning.

12 Mar 2012 : Column 67W

Turkey

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with his Turkish counterpart the number of journalists being held in Turkish prisons without charge. [98741]

Mr Lidington: The UK Government share the concerns expressed by the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and others over issues surrounding freedom of expression in Turkey.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and I discussed this issue with Egemen Bagis, the Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs at a meeting on 1 March 2012.

We welcome the Turkish Government’s recent proposals on judicial reform as an important step towards improving freedom of expression and are encouraged by the fact that further reforms are planned. Along with our EU partners, we will continue to press for further progress on this urgent issue.

Uganda

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the arrest of Joseph Kony on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in 2005; and if he will make a statement. [99431]

Mr Bellingham: The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is an issue of serious concern and we receive regular representations about the need to arrest Joseph Kony so that he can face justice in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The British Government condemn in the strongest possible terms the atrocities carried out by the LRA. Although much reduced in numbers, it remains an unprincipled and violent threat to civilians and regional security. Britain is a strong supporter of the ICC and reminds all states of their obligations to co-operate with the Court, in particular on the issue of enforcement of the Court's arrest warrant. Those currently fugitive from the ICC, such as Kony, must be reminded that they will face justice.

Western Sahara

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on those administering power in the (a) unoccupied zone and (b) occupied Western Sahara. [99106]

Alistair Burt: Morocco exercises de facto control over part of the territory of Western Sahara. The UK does not regard any country as administering de facto that part of the territory of Western Sahara not under Moroccan control.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government recognise a de jure Administering Power in Western Sahara. [99163]

Alistair Burt: The British Government do not recognise a de jure Administering Power in Western Sahara.

12 Mar 2012 : Column 68W

Work and Pensions

Action for Employment: Fraud

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he was made personally aware of the allegations of fraud at A4e. [97617]

Chris Grayling: Ministers were advised of these allegations in autumn 2011.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when (a) the Minister for Employment and (b) senior officials of his Department were made aware of the allegations of fraud at A4e. [97618]

Chris Grayling: Senior officials were formally notified of the fraud allegations in February 2011. Ministers were advised of these allegations in autumn 2011.

Carer’s Allowance: North West

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Denton and Reddish constituency were in receipt of carer's allowance in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11. [98633]

Maria Miller: The number of recipients of carer's allowance in Denton and Reddish parliamentary constituency is shown as follows:

As at May each year Total

2011

830

2010

760

2009

800

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. 2. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and excluded people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended for example if they are in hospital. 3. These figures are published on the Department's Tabulation Tool at: http://83.244.183.180/100pc/ca/tabtool_ca.html Source: DWP Information, Governance and Security Directorate Work and Pension Longitudinal Study 100% data.

Child Maintenance

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of child support cases that are dealt with manually. [98255]

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 right 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 Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of the number of child support cases that are being dealt with manually. [98255]

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A number of Child Support Agency cases are maintained on an electronic ‘Clerical Case Database’ due to technical issues that mean they cannot be processed on the main computer system.

Information about the Clerical Case Database is published on page 13 of the Quarterly Summery of Statistics. The latest version is available at the following link:

http://www.childmaintenance.org/en/pdf/qss/QSS_dec_2011.pdf

which shows the number of cases from the current computer system being managed off system has increased from 101,800 in September 2011 to 103,000 in December 2011.

Whilst the increase in the number of cases which become stuck and need costly handling off system has slowed, the problems of maintaining the two existing Child Support Agency schemes, particularly those relating to the current IT system introduced in 2003, are well documented.

Consequently, we propose to move to a new scheme, replacing the two current schemes and using income data from HM Revenue and Customs tax records, supported by a new IT system. The new scheme will support more efficient and effective administration of child maintenance for those parents who cannot reach their own family-based arrangements.

12 Mar 2012 : Column 70W

Departmental Consultants

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which consultancy reports were produced by (a) audit and (b) management consulting firms for his Department in (i) 2010 and (ii) 2011. [94481]

Chris Grayling: Reports are a key deliverable for all consultancy and audit projects commissioned by the Department.

In 2008-09 the Department spent £72.8 million on business consultancy services. This figure reduced to £18.2 million in 2010-11. This represents a total reduction of 76% compared with 2008-09 spending levels and spending continues to fall. In the first nine months of the current financial year the Department spent £3.51 million on business consultancy.

The Department monitors all expenditure to drive out inefficiencies and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.

Lists of all consultancy and audits projects commissioned in (i) 2010 before May, and (ii) from May 2011 onwards, are provided in the following tables:

Consultancy and audit projects awarded in 2010
Contract title From To Supplier Value (£)

Resource Management IT Healthcheck

1 January 2010

30 June 2011

NSG

90,000.00

Jobcentre Plus Financial Information System Capability Review

4 January 2010

12 February 2010

Capgemini

25,000.00

Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Plan

4 January 2010

12 March 2010

Atkins

25,000.00

Undertake a Review of Data Centre Migration Approach

11 January 2010

25 January 2010

PricewaterhouseCoopers

20,000

Organisational Design Project

18 January 2010

29 March 2010

Deloitte

543,000.00

Developing a Business Intelligence Operating Model

18 January 2010

31 March 2010

Deloitte

185,672.00

CIT Software Project Discovery Phase

28 January 2010

30 April 2010

Deloitte

195,528.00

Support to CIT Improvement Programmes

1 February 2010

31 March 2011

Tribal

760,000.00

Information Security Assurance Project

4 February 2010

31 March 2010

Atkins

49,950.00

Assistance with Resource Management System Improvement Plan Programme Phase 2

7 February 2010

30 April 2010

Atkins

72,690.00

Office for Disability Issues TrailBlazer Support—Housing

8 February 2010

15 July 2010

Sitra

51,300.00

Office for Disability Issues—Trailblazer Resource Allocation for Work Choice

8 February 2010

15 June 2010

In-Control

11,750.00

Call Off Framework Agreement for Right to Control TrailBlazers

8 February 2010

31 October 2010

PricewaterhouseCoopers

97,902.00

Commercial Assurance—Automated Delivery Service—Jobseekers Allowance

10 February 2010

5 March 2010

Atkins

47,300.00

Corporate Services Division Cost Optimisation Programme Network and Telephony

12 February 2010

11 April 2010

Xantus

94,370.00

National Registration Authority Audit (tScheme Audit)

1 March 2010

31 March 2010

KPMG

10,727.00

Shingo Prize Pilot

1 March 2010

31 March 2010

The Manufacturing Institute—TMI Pract. Services

11,000

Business Control Strategic Improvements

14 April 2010

30 April 2011

PricewaterhouseCoopers

750,000.00

A review of DWP Vendor Management Activities

19 April 2010

1 June 2010

Procurement Excellence

52,250.00

Assistance with Resource Management System Improvement Plan Programme Phase 3

4 May 2010

30 July 2010

Atkins

94,050.00

Pension Reform Delivery Programme Closure Activity

4 May 2010

31 December 2010

PricewaterhouseCoopers

100,000.00

Benchmarking Hosting Services

10 May 2010

4 June 2010

Gartner

23,456.00

Application Delivery Centre (ADC) Validation Services Requests

7 June 2010

31 March 2011

Atkins

97,500.00

Additional Modelling Support for Dynamic Benefits

1 July 2010

21 July 2010

Oliver Wyman

19,500.00

Strategic Financial Consultancy Support to Help deliver Work Programme

12 July 2010

31 May 2011

KPMG

362,000.00

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12 Mar 2012 : Column 72W

Shared Services Resource Management Contract (RMOC) Benchmarking

26 August 2010

9 September 2010

Compass

15,000.00

Final assurance of DWP IT Strategy

23 September 2010

1 October 2010

Capgemini

20,000

Research into the Capacity of the Health Care Professional Market

21 October 2010

18 November 2011

Deloitte

48,678.00

Commercial support to the Work Programme

22 October 2010

31 March 2012

Richard Aitken-Davies

45,000.00

Support to DWP Finance and Commercial Function (Organisation Design Review)

22 December 2010

31 January 2011

PricewaterhouseCoopers

20,000.00

Managing the Risk of Financial Loss: Building Capability

24 December 2010

30 June 2011

KPMG

337,000.00

Consultancy and audit projects awarded in 2011
Contract title From To Supplier Value (£)

Support to DWP CJT Cost Reduction Programme

4 January 2011

31 May 2012

Bramble

1,065,000.00

DWP Shared Services Delivery Model Options appraisal

24 January 2011

31 March 2011

Deloitte

225,000.00

Benchmarking of DWP Shared Services

9 February 2011

31 March 2011

PricewaterhouseCoopers

19,000.00

Universal Credit Delivery Model Assessment Phase 2

21 March 2011

30 April 2011

McKinsey and Partners

350,000.00

Universal Credit Strategic Support

21 March 2011

30 November 2011

Capgemini

505,000

Review of Transforming Letters Project

30 March 2011

19 April 2011

Deloitte

19,550

Application Delivery Project Independent Market Assessment

8 April 2011

22 April 2011

Compass

19,000

Universal Credit End to End Technical Review

11 April 2011

3 May 2011

IBM

49,240.00

Digital Customer Total Experience Design Requirement

16 May 2011

31 August 2011

Deloitte

16,667.00

Universal Credit Supplier Workshop-Facilitation

18 May 2011

19 May 2011

Xantus

11,399.15

Consultancy Support to develop Flexible New Deal Exit Strategy

19 July 2011

31 August 2011

KPMG

12,000.00

Support of CIT Improvement Initiatives

22 August 2011

22 April 2012

KPMG

250,000.00

Risk Assurance Division Strategic Partner

1 September 2011

31 August 2013

PricewaterhouseCoopers

1,000,000

Benchmarking of the HPES Hosting Contract

1 September 2011

1 December 2011

Compass

172,105.00

Compensating People with Occupational Mesothelioma

24 October 2011

30 November 2011

Deloitte

25,616.00

Specialist tScheme Annual Audit of DWPs National Registration Authority

27 October 2011

31 January 2012

KPMG

33,000

Employment and Support Allowance

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he made of the number of people in receipt of employment and support allowance that would be referred to the Work programme prior to the scheme's commencement; what the actual level of referrals has been since the scheme's commencement; and what assessment he has made of the causes of any difference between these figures. [98885]

Chris Grayling: The forecast volumes for mandatory employment and support allowance (ESA) payment groups over spending review 2010 was 373,000 at the invitation to tender stage and was 373,000 in the latest review of forecasts, published in December 2011.

Between 1 June 2011 to the end of October 2011, there were 20,220 ESA referrals to the Work programme.

A full breakdown of Work programme data can be found at the DWP Tabulation Tool:

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

Two main reasons for the change are:

A reduction in the number of ESA ex IB claimants found in the mandatory referral group, this is due to more of the ESA ex IB claimants having a longer prognosis and more claimants being found fit for work.

Fewer ESA claimants have volunteered for the Work programme than we originally expected.

We have made a series of changes to the programme to ensure more ESA claimants have access to the programme.

From October 2011 we increased the prognosis period from 3-6 months for mandatory referrals which will ensure more of claimants in the Work Related Activity Group are referred on a mandatory basis From October 201 we introduced information sessions to allow ESA claimants who are eligible to volunteer for Work programme to make an informed choice whether the Work programme is the right option for them.

Amended estimates for ESA referrals to the Work programme and the latest view on all volumes has been placed in the House of Commons Library

http://www.parliament.uk/deposits/depositedpapers/2012/DEP2012-0132.doc

These estimates will be updated on a regular basis.

Employment and Support Allowance: Complaints

Stella Creasy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints he has received relating to the performance of the employment and

12 Mar 2012 : Column 73W

support allowance benefit delivery centre in each year since 2008; and if he will make a statement. [98907]

Chris Grayling: Jobcentre Plus does not have specific benefit delivery centres for delivering employment and support allowance (ESA).

ESA was introduced in October 2008 but complaints data specific to ESA was only collected separately in the benefit centre directorate from November 2010.

The following table shows the total number of complaints recorded by Jobcentre Plus relating to employment and support allowance since November 2010 to 7 March 2012.

  November 2010 to March 2011 April 2011 to 7 March 2012

ESA complaints recorded in benefit centre directorate

1,854

1,322

Employment Schemes

Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which Work programme contractors are operating in each area of the UK; and what the local unemployment rate in each such area was (a) when the contract was signed and (b) in the latest period for which figures are available. [98630]

Chris Grayling: Information on the prime Work programme contractors by contract package area is available here:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-prime-supplier-contact-details.pdf

Unemployment rates at local level using the International Labour Organisation (ILO) based measure are not currently available for the period covered by the operation of the Work programme.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he next plans to publish data on the length of benefit claims for people participating in the (a) work experience and (b) mandatory work activity scheme. [99456]

Chris Grayling: I have asked statisticians in the Department to look at publishing further data on people participating in work experience and the mandatory work activity scheme.

Employment Schemes: Fraud

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many allegations of fraud relating to the Work programme have been (a) reported and (b) investigated; and how many such investigations have resulted in a prosecution. [98524]

Chris Grayling: No allegations of fraud relating to the Work programme have been reported, investigated or resulted in a prosecution.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in his Department are working on the investigation of reports of fraud relating to the Work programme. [98526]

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Chris Grayling: As no allegations of fraud relating to the Work programme have been reported no internal investigations staff are working on the investigation of fraud relating to the Work programme.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in his Department are working on the investigation of fraud relating to contract management arrangements with Work programme providers. [98527]

Chris Grayling: As no allegations of fraud relating to contract management arrangements with Work programme providers have been reported no internal investigations staff are working on the investigation of fraud relating to the Work programme.

Jobcentre Plus

Stella Creasy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of administration complaints relating to the performance of Jobcentre Plus was in each year since 2008; and if he will make a statement. [98905]

Chris Grayling: 2011-12 is the first year for which the cost of administering complaint handling and resolutions has been separately identifiable.

The costs for complaint handling and resolution activity in 2011-12 are £7.1 million for the 10 months ending 31 January 2012.

Stella Creasy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints he has received relating to the performance of Jobcentre Plus offices in (a) Walthamstow constituency, (b) London and (c) nationally in each year since 2008; and if he will make a statement. [98906]

Chris Grayling: The following tables show the number of complaints recorded by Jobcentre Plus relating to (a) Walthamstow constituency (calendar year data only), (b) London and (c) nationally each year since 2008.

Total complaints recorded
  January to December:
  2008 2009 2010 2011

Walthamstow constituency

n/a

332

136

165

n/a = Not available.
Total complaints recorded
  2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 April 2011 to 7 March 2012

London region(1)

6,147

7,125

7,835

6,954

National

41,181

55,632

58,865

48,463

(1) Now London and Home Counties group.

Jobcentre Plus: Yorkshire and the Humber

Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the success of the Archive Operations Management pilot in the Yorkshire and Humber region of Jobcentre Plus. [98380]

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Chris Grayling: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 5 March 2012, Official Report, column 561W.

Pensions

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people entitled to pension credit who have not claimed it in (a) England, (b) Cumbria and (c) Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency in each of the last five years; and how many people have claimed pension credit in (i) England, (ii) Cumbria and (iii) Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency in each such year. [99359]

Steve Webb: Estimates of take-up are not sufficiently robust to present below the level of Great Britain. However the latest National Statistics on Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-Up produced by the Department for Work and Pensions were released on 23 February 2012.

The Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-up report covers Great Britain for the financial year 2009-10. It provides caseload and expenditure estimates of take-up for income support and employment and support allowance (income-related), pension credit, housing benefit (including local housing allowance), council tax benefit and jobseeker's allowance (income-based). The latest release updates

12 Mar 2012 : Column 76W

the statistics previously released on 10 June 2010. The figures are available online and can be found here:

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

Figures for Great Britain covering the period 2005-06 to 2009-10 are as follows:

Caseload take-up for pension credit, Great Britain, 2005-06 to 2009-10
  Range of entitled non-recipients (thousand) Take-up ranges (percentage)

2005-06

1,170 : 1,740

60 : 69

2006-07

1,180 : 1,730

60 : 69

     

2007-08

980 : 1,530

63 : 73

2008-09

910 : 1,520

63 : 74

2009-10

1,210 : 1,580

62 : 68

The break in the time series between 2006-07 and 2007-08, shown in the table above, represents the change in the modelling approach as described in the latest report: Chapter 7: Revisions in the latest report.

Details of the take-up methodology and a worked example of how take-up is calculated can be found in Chapter 8: Methods and Data Sources and the Appendix: Construction of take-up ranges, of the latest report.

The information relating to the number of people who have claimed pension credit is in the following table.

  England Cumbria Westmorland and Lonsdale parliamentary constituency
As at May each year Number of household recipients Number of beneficiaries Number of h ousehold recipients Number of beneficiaries Number of h ousehold recipients Number of beneficiaries

2007

2,286,440

2,793,500

22,320

26,990

3,220

3,880

2008

2,275,670

2,780,470

22,140

26,790

3,190

3,820

2009

2,286,560

2,799,780

22,220

26,940

3,150

3,790

2010

2,292,430

2,811,540

22,060

26,790

3,030

3,650

2011

2,245,190

2,751,280

21,470

26,020

2,970

3,550

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. 2. Pension credit household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves or on behalf of themselves and a partner. 3. Beneficiaries represent the number of people that pension credit helps and is the number of claimants in addition to the number of partners for whom they are also claiming. 4. Constituencies used for May 2010 and 2011 are for the Westminster Parliament of May 2010. Prior to this, the constituencies used are for May 2005. 5. The age at which women reach state pension age will gradually increase from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and April 2020. 6. These figures are published on NOMIS at: www.nomisweb.co.uk Source: DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Pensions: Females

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the potential effect on expenditure on state pensions of the Government's proposal that women born in 1951 should not be eligible to receive a state pension until 2013. [99017]

Steve Webb: For women born in 1951 their state pension age remains as set by the Pensions Act 1995 and is shown in the following table:

Date of birth Date state pension age reached

1 January 1951 to 5 January 1951

6 September 2011

6 January 1951 to 5 February 1951

6 November 2011

6 February 1951 to 5 March 1951

6 January 2012

6 March 1951 to 5 April 1951

6 March 2012

6 April 1951 to 5 May 1951

6 May 2012

6 May 1951 to 5 June 1951

6 July 2012

6 June 1951 to 5 July 1951

6 September 2012

6 July 1951 to 5 August 1951

6 November 2012

6 August 1951 to 5 September 1951

6 January 2013

6 September 1951 to 5 October 1951

6 March 2013

6 October 1951 to 5 November 1951

6 May 2013

6 November 1951 to 5 December 1951

6 July 2013

6 December 1951 to 31 December 1951

6 September 2013

The Pensions Act 1995 included provision to increase the state pension age for women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1955 to provide equal treatment

12 Mar 2012 : Column 77W

between men and women in compliance with the UK's obligations under EC Directive 79/7 on equal treatment between the sexes in social security matters.

The White Paper “Equality in State Pension Age” (Cmnd 2420) published in December 1993 provided estimates of the total costs and savings from equalisation of state pension ages, but not details for individual years by birth cohorts. Paragraph 1.11 on public expenditure states:

“expenditure on state pensions is set to double in real terms from just under £30 billion now to almost £60 billion by 2025. Equalising at men's pension age will save just under £5 billion from that total.”

However, given the passage of time since publication of the White Paper and the subsequent changes to the state pension system the figures quoted in 1993 do not accurately reflect the current fiscal effect of the changes.

Personal Independence Payment

Paul Maynard: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which organisations are represented on his Department’s Personal Independence Payment Implementation Development Group; and if he will make a statement. [98334]

Maria Miller: The Personal Independence Payment Implementation Development Group has a wide range of members, representing disabled people of all ages with a broad range of disabilities and impairments.

The group includes the following listed members, who have agreed to us using their name in DWP publications (although their involvement does not imply endorsement of personal independence payment’s introduction, nor endorsement of specific features of the policy/delivery arrangements).

The Personal Independence Payment Implementation Development Group plays a critical role in informing the design and development of personal independence payment delivery arrangements and reviewing progress made to date.

Royal British Legion

Independent Living Fund

Essex Coalition of Disabled People

12 Mar 2012 : Column 78W

Papworth Trust

Scope

Frontline Debt Advice

Rotherham Macmillan Welfare Rights

BRAME

Parkinson’s UK

Royal College of Nursing

National Autistic Society

LGAs Social Security Advisers Group

Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People

Enfield Disability Action

Surrey Association for Visual Impairment

CLIC Sargent

Welfare and Financial Assessment joint team

Spinal Injuries Association

Mind-In-Enfield

Sense

Citizens Advice

Richmond Aid

Macmillan Cancer Support

Mind

Downs Syndrome Association

Royal Brompton Hospital Welfare Rights

The Children’s Society

National Federation of the Blind

Limbless Association

National Deaf Children’s Society

AdviceUK

Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which regulations his Department repealed between 1 June 2011 and 31 January 2012; and if he will estimate the likely savings to the public purse in each case. [97361]

Chris Grayling: In response to the first part of the question, namely which regulations the Department for Work and Pensions has revoked between 1 June 2011 and 31 January 2012, these are given as follows:

SI number SI title Date made Date coming into force Regulations wholly or partially revoked

2011/1349

Employment and Support Allowance (Work-Related Activity) Regulations 2011

26 May 2011

1 June 2011

Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/794) :

       

Regs. 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53 (revoked by Reg. 11)

       

Reg. 58 (revoked by Reg. 14)

         

2011/1736

Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2011

14 July 2011

1 January 2012

Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/214):

       

Reg. 2(1)—definition of “young individual” omitted (revoked by Reg. 3)

         

2011/1825

Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) (No 2) Order 2011

20 July 2011

22 August 2011

Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) Order 1997 (SI 1997/735):

       

Entry for Linnhe Protective Structure including its co-ordinates in Schedule 1 omitted (revoked by Reg. 4).

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12 Mar 2012 : Column 80W

       

Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) (No 5) Order 2007 (SI 2007/2198)

       

Entry for Tristan North West Subsea Production Well (49/29b-J) including its co-ordinates in the Schedule omitted (revoked by Reg. 5)

         

2011/2428

Social Security (Work-focused Interviews for Lone Parents and Partners) (Amendment) Regulations 2011

6 October 2011

31 October 2011

Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/794):

       

Reg. 2(1)—definition of “lone parent” omitted (revoked by Reg. 5(2)).

       

Employment and Support Allowance (Work-Related Activity) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1349) :

       

Reg. 2(1)—definition of “lone parent” omitted (revoked by Reg. 7(2)).

         

2011/2492

The Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) (No. 4) Order 2011

17 October 2011

14 November 2011

Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) (No 7) Order 2007 (SI 2007/3359)

       

Entry for Shelley including its co-ordinates in the Schedule omitted (revoked by Reg. 3)

I am unable to provide a response to the second part of the question, namely the request for an estimate as to the likely savings to the public purse resulting from the revocations detailed in the table. This is because further research, at disproportionate cost to the Department, would need to be undertaken in order to assess the cost benefit of these revocations. However, I note that, in respect of the partial revocation to the Employment and Support Allowance (Work-Related Activity) Regulations 2011, SI 2011/1349 has a published Regulatory Impact Assessment.

Social Security Benefits

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many awards have been made under the Flexible Support Fund since April 2011. [99454]

Chris Grayling: The number of awards made by advisers from the flexible support fund to help remove customer barriers to work was 170,141 between April 2011 and the end of February 2012.

Payments are also made from the flexible support fund to provide support with incidental costs incurred as a result of attending training designed to obtain skills to improve employment prospects. Data are not available on the total number of these types of payments.

Social Security Benefits: Appeals

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people who were previously receiving incapacity benefit and have been reassessed for employment and support allowance have (a) received the assessment decision and not appealed, (b) received the assessment decision, appealed, and received an appeal decision, (c) received the assessment decision, appealed, and are awaiting an appeal or an appeal decision and (d) terminated their claim prior to a decision. [99065]

Chris Grayling: Data on claimants who were previously receiving incapacity benefit and have been reassessed for employment and support allowance is currently not available. However, the Department intends to publish some data on the outcomes of the reassessment process later this month.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) mean and (b) median waiting time was for a work capability assessment following the start of a claim or receipt of a reassessment letter for people (i) applying for employment and support allowance and (ii) being reassessed for employment and support allowance from the incapacity benefit caseload in the latest period for which figures are available. [99066]

Chris Grayling: The information requested is not currently available.

Universal Credit

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects all local authorities to participate in the (a) short-term and (b) long-term universal credit local authority pilots he has announced. [98225]

Chris Grayling: We aim to begin the short-term pilot activity during 2012 and will subsequently develop proposals for longer-term pilots. In both cases these are likely to involve a small number of local authorities.

Welfare Reform Act 2012: Northern Ireland

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had with the Minister for Social Development in the Northern Ireland Executive about the effect of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 on Northern Ireland. [98049]

12 Mar 2012 : Column 81W

Chris Grayling: Within the Department for Work and Pensions, Lord Freud is the Minister with lead responsibility for Welfare Reform. He is also the Minister with lead responsibility for liaison with Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive.

Lord Freud had discussions with the Nelson McCausland, Minister for Social Development regarding welfare reforms on 31 August, 1 September 2011 and 1 March 2012.

The Minister for Disabled People, my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Maria Miller), has also had discussions with the Minister on various issues regarding welfare reform on 16 November 2011. Further ministerial meetings are planned following Royal Assent.

Department for Work and Pensions Officials are in permanent communication with their Northern Ireland counterparts on issues related to welfare reform.

Work Capability Assessment

Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have attended a scheduled work capability assessment but have not been seen by Atos even though they had an appointment in the latest period for which figures are available. [99445]

Chris Grayling: During February 2012 there were 5,353 claimants who had been scheduled to attend a work capability assessment (WCA) for employment and support allowance and, although they attended the Medical Assessment Centre, the WCA could not be conducted by Atos Healthcare.

Of this number 2,231 were for reasons which it has been contractually agreed to be outside the control of Atos Healthcare, these reasons are:

being unfit on arrival to be assessed;

arrived late (over 10 minutes);

nurse being unable to continue with assessment;

inappropriate for HCP to see;

accommodation problems;

unable to be seen for health and safety reasons;

no prior notification of special needs;

arrived on time but not prepared to wait for up to 30 minutes.

Work Capability Assessment: North West

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Denton and Reddish constituency and (b) the north west who have attended a work capability assessment have been deemed (i) fit and (ii) unfit for work in the last 12 months. [98632]

Chris Grayling: Data on the work capability assessment (WCA) outcomes for new employment and support allowance (ESA) claims for the Denton and Reddish constituency are not available. However, local authority data for the Tameside and Stockport local authority areas, which cover the Denton and Reddish constituency, are available and are given below.

The following table provides the outcomes at the initial WCA for all new ESA claims assessed between September 2010 and August 2011 for the geographical areas requested. These are the latest available data.

12 Mar 2012 : Column 82W

  Entitled to employment and support allowance    
Geographical region Support group Work related activity group Fit for work Total

Tameside LA

310

640

920

1,870

Stockport LA

270

700

1,150

2,120

North West

8,230

19,560

34,290

62,070

Claimants assigned to the work related activity group are considered capable of moving towards employment and are mandated to engage in work related activity to help them prepare for a return to work. Those with the most severe disabilities or health conditions which mean it would be unreasonable to expect them to engage in work-related activities are placed in the support group. These claimants receive a higher rate of benefit than work related activity group claimants and are not required to engage in any work-focused interviews or work-related activity, although they may volunteer for support if they wish.

Note that the above figures do not include any claimants undergoing a WCA as part of the incapacity benefit reassessment process. The Department intends to publish data on the outcomes of the reassessment process in March 2012.

The Department regularly publishes official statistics on ESA and the WCA. The latest publication was released in January 2012 and can be found on the departmental website here:

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

The above information is taken from administrative data held by the Department and assessment data provided by Atos Healthcare.

All figures have been rounded to the nearest 10, and so columns may not sum to the totals shown.

Work Programme

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many referrals to the Work programme each job centre has made in each Jobcentre Plus district between June and October 2011. [99450]

Chris Grayling: I have deposited this information in the Library.

Treasury

Credit: EU Law

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) on which date a formal request for state aid approval was submitted to the European Commission in respect of his credit easing scheme; [98425]

(2) on what date his Department submitted the formal application to the European Commission for state aid approval in respect of his credit easing scheme. [99444]

Mr Hoban: There has been regular contact between HM Treasury and the Commission since November, with a view to designing a National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS) compatible with state aid as quickly as

12 Mar 2012 : Column 83W

possible. This notification was formally submitted to the Commission on 10 February 2012. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced, the NLGS will launch before Budget 2012.

Senior Civil Servants: Ethnic Minorities

Mr Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of senior civil servants in his Department were from an ethnic minority in March (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012; and if he will make a statement. [98864]

Miss Chloe Smith: The proportion of ethnic minority senior civil servants (SCS) in HM Treasury in the years requested:

March 2010: 4.7% of SCS (6 people)

March 2011: 5.5% of SCS (6 people)

March 2012: 7.2% of SCS (7 people)

The 2013 diversity target for the representation of ethnic minority employees in HM Treasury's SCS is 5.0%.

ENTRUST

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) when he will next reassess the role and effectiveness of ENTRUST, the regulator of the Landfill Communities Fund; [98541]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with community groups and associations on the effectiveness of ENTRUST, the regulator of the Landfill Communities Fund; [98542]

(3) if he will take steps to improve the governance and accountability of ENTRUST, the regulator of the Landfill Communities Fund. [98543]

Miss Chloe Smith: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is responsible for appointing the regulator of the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) and overseeing its activities. HMRC monitors and assures that the regulator (ENTRUST) delivers its regulatory function effectively.

HMRC holds an annual forum for the LCF community where any issues regarding the scheme can be discussed. In addition, HMRC officials have met with environmental bodies to discuss regulation of the scheme.

The terms under which HMRC appoints the regulator, ENTRUST, are subject to periodic review. This allows HMRC to monitor and consider the regulator's role and effectiveness and agree any necessary improvements.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Stephen Phillips: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on the extension of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's scope to cover southern and eastern Mediterranean regions. [98517]

Mr Hoban: Treasury Ministers and officials meet a wide range of organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors as part of the usual policymaking process. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.

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Excise Duties: Alcoholic Drinks

Mark Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the proportion of off-trade sales in financial years (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11 in respect of (i) spirits, (ii) wine and (iii) beer where UK alcohol duty has not been paid; [98170]

(2) what estimate he has made of the level of duty fraud on wine in (a) 2007, (b) 2008 and (c) 2010; and what plans are currently in place to tackle such fraud; [98171]

(3) whether he has made an assessment of the robustness of HM Revenue and Customs' (a) estimate of the scale of (i) spirits and (ii) beer duty fraud and (b) methodology for producing beer tax gap estimates. [98329]

Miss Chloe Smith: Spirits and beer tax gaps were published in September 2011 in ‘Measuring Tax Gaps 2011’ which is available online at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/mtg-2011.pdf

HMRC's estimates of the alcohol tax gap do not differentiate between the on and off-trades, therefore estimates of the proportion of off-sales where UK alcohol duty has not been paid are not available.

Estimates of wine fraud are not currently available. HMRC has a Tackling Alcohol Fraud strategy to counter fraud in all alcohol products.

The tax gap methodologies are open to independent scrutiny and are available online at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/mtg-annex2011.pdf

The spirits tax gap has previously been audited by the NAO. The beer tax gap is newer and has not yet been audited by the NAO. It is based on the same principles as the spirits tax gap methodology. HMRC is committed to discussions with the industry in order to improve the beer estimates.

Excise Duties: Fuels

Mr Anderson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the findings of the report from the Centre for Economic and Business Research on the potential effects of a reduction in fuel duty; and if he will make a statement. [98829]

Miss Chloe Smith: The Government have noted the conclusions of the report from The Centre for Economic and Business Research. At Budget 2011 and the autumn statement 2011 the Government supported motorists and businesses through a reduction in fuel duty, abolition of the fuel duty escalator, introduction of a fair fuel stabiliser, cancellation of the increase that was planned for 1 August 2012 and deferral of the January 2012 increase to August 2012 to freeze rates for 16 months. Consequently, as of 1 April 2012 average pump prices could be approximately 10p per litre lower than they would otherwise have been.

Foreign Loans: Argentina

Priti Patel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on future votes at the World Bank on loans to Argentina. [98349]

12 Mar 2012 : Column 85W

Mr Andrew Mitchell: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for International Development.

Britain will look at each individual project at the World Bank with care, assessing each project on its own merits and the context of each individual loan.

The Department for International Development does not maintain an aid programme to Argentina and no UK aid is spent providing loans to Argentina at the World Bank.

Freezing Orders: Libya

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much in frozen Libyan assets has been returned to Libya; and whether any assets are still frozen. [97971]

Mr Hoban: The Treasury is responsible for the implementation of international financial sanctions. The Libya sanctions regime was introduced, and then extensively modified, during 2011. The asset freeze against, for example, oil industry and financial entities was substantially lifted in September 2011, and the asset freeze targeting the Central Bank of Libya and the Libya Arab Foreign Bank was lifted in December.

An asset freeze remains in force against 39 individuals and 22 entities, including the Libyan Investment Authority. A full list of the persons subject to the Libyan asset freeze is available on the Treasury website at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/fin_sanctions_libya.htm

For reasons of confidentiality, the Treasury is unable to disclose details of the remaining assets frozen in the UK under the Libya sanctions regime. However, as a result of the lifting of sanctions in 2011 approximately four-fifths of the sums originally frozen in the UK were unfrozen.

Housing: Construction

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department will act as a guarantor for smaller developers in the construction sector to enable them to compete for the Get Britain Building Fund; and if he will make a statement. [97731]

Miss Chloe Smith: The Government will not act as a guarantor for smaller developers under the Get Britain Building Fund. However, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) streamlined the first stage of the application process for the programme to make it easier for all developers—including smaller developers—to access funding and unlock development on stalled sites.

Income Tax

Brandon Lewis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) male and (b) female higher rate taxpayers there were in the most recent period for which figures are available. [98850]

Mr Gauke: The number of higher rate taxpayers is estimated at 3.19 million in the tax year 2009-10, as shown in HM Revenue and Custom's Table 3.4,

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/income_distribution/menu-by-year.htm#34

Of these, 2.4 million are male and 792,000 are female.

12 Mar 2012 : Column 86W

These are the latest available outturns, based on the Survey of Personal Incomes 2009-10, a sample survey of taxpayer records for 2009-10.

Projections of taxpayer numbers, based on 2007-08 survey data, were published in April 2011, and show a combined 4.05 million higher and additional rate taxpayers in 2011-12, of which 3.09 million are male and 956,000 are female. Revised projections, consistent with the 2009-10 survey data, and based on the Office for Budget Responsibility's March 2012 Economic and Fiscal Outlook, will be published on 27 April 2012.

Monetary Policy: Pensioners

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on pensioners of quantitative easing; and if he will make a statement. [98915]

Mr Hoban: The independent Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) policy tools, including bank rate and quantitative easing, are macroeconomic policy tools designed to affect the economy as a whole, in order to meet the 2% inflation target over the medium term. At its February meeting, the Committee judged that without further monetary stimulus it was more likely than not that inflation would undershoot the target in the medium term. The Committee therefore voted to increase the size of its asset purchase programme by £50 billion to £325 billion.

The MPC takes into account many factors in its policy decisions, including the prospects for households, assessments of which can be found in the Bank of England's quarterly Inflation Reports and press conferences, and minutes of the MPC's monthly meetings.

Revenue and Customs: ICT

Andrea Leadsom: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect that spending on systems to allow tax offices to communicate would have on levels of (a) service and (b) savings to the public purse. [97768]

Mr Gauke: HMRC's recent investment in its project to modernise PAYE processing 12 regional IT databases upto one. This has improved the provision of service to individuals taxed under PAYE and is expected to yield benefits of £0.5 billion over 10 years.

Rural Areas: Grants

Mr Graham Stuart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what fiscal steps he is taking to ensure that rural areas receive a fair share of central Government grants. [98399]

Richard Benyon: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Government are committed to ensuring that all areas are treated fairly in the allocation of central Government grants. DEFRA works closely with Departments across Whitehall to help them understand rural needs and opportunities and to encourage them to ensure that their policies and funding schemes benefit both rural and urban communities. As part of their

12 Mar 2012 : Column 87W

work on business rates retention, the Government are looking at the cost of delivering services in rural areas and whether this is properly reflected in the current system of funding. The Government will consult on any changes considered appropriate as part of the wider consultation on the final shape of the business rates retention scheme later this summer.

Taxation

Katy Clark: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate HM Revenue and Customs has made of the loss to the public purse arising from tax not being collected from people registered as non-resident who are resident in the UK for either (a) over 183 days in a tax year or (b) over 91 days on average over a four-year tax period; [99029]

(2) how the Government monitors, for the purposes of establishing residency status, how long people have been in the UK. [99107]

Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) operates a risk based compliance system to identify those who claim to be non-UK resident but may, in fact, be resident for tax purposes.

Where an individual's residence status is relevant to their UK liability, he or she is required, under the normal tax self-assessment process, to make a return based on their own determination of residence status. How long an individual has been in the UK may be relevant to determining whether or not they are resident here in some cases, but not in all.

Taxation: Energy

Mrs Main: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the change in cost to consumers of the planned introduction of the carbon floor price. [98985]

Miss Chloe Smith: An assessment of the impacts of the carbon price floor is given in HMRC's Tax Information and Impact Note published alongside Budget 2011. This is available online at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2011/tiin6111.pdf

Taxation: Multinational Companies

Mr Anderson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the effect on developing countries of his proposed changes to the rules on controlled foreign companies; [98643]

(2) if he will ensure that an assessment of the effect on developing countries is undertaken before changes are made to the rules on controlled foreign companies. [98644]

Mr Gauke: The Government have not undertaken an assessment of the effect on developing countries of the proposed changes to the CFC rules as these rules are designed to protect the UK Exchequer by preventing artificial diversion of UK profits.

Any assessment of the impact of CFC reform on developing countries would need to focus primarily on the nature of tax regimes in the developing countries and the interactions of UK headed multinational companies

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with those tax systems. The strengthening of tax administration in developing countries is a key issue in tax and development and the Government are committed to supporting developing countries access sustainable sources of revenue. Our priorities for achieving this are capacity building, improving exchange of tax information, and increasing transparency in the extractives sector to address corruption.

Taxation: Nuclear Power

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered introducing a windfall tax on nuclear operators for the purposes of mitigating the effect of the proposed feed-in tariffs with contracts-for-difference subsidy for nuclear projects. [97433]

Miss Chloe Smith: The proposed feed-in tariffs with contracts for difference set out in the Government's Electricity Market Reform White Paper aim to create a level playing field for all low carbon generation technologies and do not represent a subsidy for new nuclear projects.

VAT

Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the rise in the level of VAT on the (a) retail and (b) construction sector. [98742]

Mr Gauke: The Government have taken urgent and unavoidable action to tackle the deficit and to put the public finances on a sustainable footing. That is essential for jobs and growth.

The increase in the standard rate of VAT was an important element in the deficit reduction strategy.

In November, the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast, which took full account of all Government policies including the VAT increase, was for real household spending to rise by almost 10% from 2012 to 2016.

VAT: Employment

Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the change in the level of VAT on unemployment. [98776]

Mr Gauke: The Government have taken urgent and unavoidable action to tackle the deficit and to put the public finances on a sustainable footing. That is essential for jobs and growth.

The increase in the standard rate of VAT was an important element in the deficit reduction strategy.

In November, the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast, which took full account of all Government policies including the VAT increase, was for the unemployment rate to fall back to 6.2% by 2016.

Working Tax Credit

Ann Coffey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many couples with children working between 16 and 23 hours per week were in receipt of working tax credit at the latest date for which figures are available; and how many such couples (a) have informed HM Revenue

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and Customs that their working hours have increased to an excess of 24 hours per week, with one partner working at least 16 hours per week since 6 April 2011 and

(b)

will cease to be eligible for working tax credit on 6 April 2012. [98716]

Mr Gauke: For the number of couples with children working between 16 and 23 hours per week and who are in receipt of working tax credit we refer the hon. Member to the answer given to parliamentary question 88172 on 10 January 2012, Official Report, column 72W.

The rest of this information would be available only at disproportionate cost.

Working Tax Credit: Liverpool Riverside

Mrs Ellman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on families in Liverpool, Riverside constituency of changes in working tax credit eligibility rules to be introduced in April 2012. [99042]

Mr Gauke: For the number of couples with children working between 16 and 23 hours per week and who are in receipt of working tax credit in Liverpool, Riverside we refer the hon. Member to the answer given to parliamentary question 88172 on 10 January 2012, Official Report, column 72W.

The measure to restrict eligibility to working tax credit to 24 hours for couples with children is part of a range of reforms to the tax credits system announced at the spending review.

Estimating the effect on families from an individual measure does not give a clear indication of the full monetary impact on an individual household.

The Government published estimates of the distributional impact of the packages of announced tax and benefit measures which can be found at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/junebudget_annexa.pdf

http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_annexb.pdf

Working Tax Credit: North West

Helen Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the cost to the economy of (a) Warrington and (b) the North West on (i) the freeze in the (A) 30 hour element and (B) the couples or lone parent element of and (ii) the overall freeze in working tax credit and the increase in the taper in each year from 2011-13. [99441]

Mr Gauke: The information requested is not available.