Please be advised that the Skills Funding Agency currently has 14 discrete service providers who are sourced via agencies (through Government procured framework contracts). These 14 are classed as 'off payroll' and fall below the £58,200 threshold. The third party Agency pays the individuals under their own contracts.

Letter from John Hirst, dated 25 May 2012:

I am replying on behalf of the Met Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 24 May 2012, UIN 110812 to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

No Met Office staff are employed through off-payroll engagements, including any costing less than £58,200 per annum.

I hope this helps.

19 Jun 2012 : Column 986W

Post Offices: Bexley

Mr Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many operational post offices there were in (a) Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency and (b) the London borough of Bexley in each of the last three years. [112805]

Norman Lamb: Post Office Ltd is responsible for operational matters concerning the post office network, which includes the information requested. I have therefore asked Paula Vennells, the chief executive of Post Office Ltd, to respond directly to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Postcomm: Fines

Ian Murray: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what fines were imposed on businesses by the former postal regulator Postcomm in each financial year from 2000-01 until its transfer to Ofcom. [112050]

Norman Lamb [holding answer 18 June 2012]: The matter raised is a regulatory issue and, as such, is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which took over regulatory responsibility for postal services in October 2011 and is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers.

Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive of Ofcom, Ed Richards, to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the chief executive's letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Recruitment

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2012, Official Report, column 489W, on recruitment, to what extent his Department and its non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff in the last year. [110971]

Norman Lamb: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is not yet using the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff.

I have asked chief executives of the executive agencies to respond directly to the right hon. Member. This information is not held by BIS in respect of non-departmental public bodies.

Letter from John Hirst, dated 12 June 2012:

I am replying on behalf of the Met Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 8 June 2012, UIN 110971 to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Met Office recruitment process uses a system of blind sifting for all job applications.

I hope this helps.

Letter from Peter Mason, dated 11 June 2012:

I am responding in respect of the National Measurement Office (NMO) to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 8 June 2012, asking the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills about the use by the Department and its executive agencies of name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system in recruiting staff in the last year.

19 Jun 2012 : Column 987W

The NMO has not to date used name-blank CVs and as we are not yet participating in the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system we do not have access to its blind sift function. Currently all applicants to NMO must complete a full application form and we do not accept CV-only applications.

Letter from David Williams, dated June 2012:

Thank you for your question addressed to the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2012, Official Report, column 489W, on recruitment, to what extent his Department and its non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff in the last year.

The UK Space Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, has not used name-blank CVs or the blind-sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff during the past year.

Letter from Malcolm Dawson, dated 12 June 2012:

I write on behalf of Land Registry in response to your Parliamentary Question 110971 tabled on 8 June 2012 which asked the following:

To ask the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2012, Official Report, column 489W, on recruitment, to what extent his Department and its non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff in the last year.

I can confirm that Land Registry has not used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff in the last year.

I hope that you find this information useful.

Letter from Tim Moss, dated 12 June 2012:

I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question tabled 8 June 2012, UIN 110971 to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Companies House does not currently use name-blank CVs and, although we use the CS Jobs Portal to advertise vacancies, we do not currently use an e-recruitment package to process applications.

Letter from Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, dated 11 June 2012:

As Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, I have been asked to reply to you in response to your Parliamentary Question asking The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills "pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2012, Official Report, column 489W, on recruitment, to what extent his Department and its non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff in the last year".

Given the general presumption against recruitment within Government at the present time, Ordnance Survey's recruitment activity has been very limited, to business-critical roles, over the past 24 months. Ordnance Survey does not have access to the Blind Sift Service on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system, but has received 'name-blank' CV's from some recruitment agencies. However these can result in duplicate applications and so Ordnance Survey prefers to seek named applications in the interests of efficiency.

I hope this information is of use.

Letter from John Alty, dated 15 June 2012:

I am responding in respect of the Intellectual Property Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled 8th June 2012, to the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Intellectual Property Office does not currently use the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system.

19 Jun 2012 : Column 988W

Letter from Graham Horne, dated 18 June 2012:

The Minister of State, Department for Business, innovation and Skills has asked me to reply to your question pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2012, Official Report, column 489W on recruitment, to what extent his Department and its non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment systems to recruit staff in the last year

The Insolvency Service does not use name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the CSR e-recruitment system as we do not use the system.

Letter from Geoff Russell, dated 19 June 2012:

Thank you for your question in asking the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2012, Official Report, column 489W, on recruitment, to what extent his Department and its non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff in the last year.

Please be advised that the Skills Funding Agency (the Agency) does not use the Civil Service E-Recruitment system. The Agency uses its own internal l-Recruitment system and candidate names are visible to recruiting managers. However, managers do not have access to diversity monitoring data of candidates.

Regional Growth Fund

Sir Alan Meale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many successful bids there were to the Regional Growth Fund in rounds 1 and 2 in each region. [112310]

Mr Prisk: The following table gives the regional breakdown of successful bids from Round 1 and 2 of the Regional Growth Fund.

 Round 1Round 2

North West

9

35

North East

23

54

Yorkshire and Humber

8

24

West Midlands

9

23

East Midlands

4

8

London, South East and East of England

3

9

South West

6

12

Nationwide

5

4

Total

67

169

Regulation

Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he has had discussions with ministerial colleagues on including European legislation in the quarterly statements on regulation that are published by central Government Departments. [112622]

Mr Prisk [holding answer 18 June 2012]: Yes. The Statement of New Regulation, published twice a year, currently includes a commentary on the action the Government are taking in relation to European regulation. The statement also now includes details of regulations being scrapped as a result of the Red Tape Challenge. Expanding the statements to provide an overview of forthcoming measures that transpose European legislation is something that I have asked the Better Regulation Executive to examine.

19 Jun 2012 : Column 989W

Research: Expenditure

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the potential for allowing the recovery of research and development spend where that spend is contracted out to contract research organisations; and if he will make a statement. [112257]

Mr Willetts [holding answer 18 June 2012]: This is an issue for companies seeking R&D tax credit relief on research and development spend. As this is a taxation policy, it is the responsibility of HM Treasury.

Retail Trade: Redundancy

Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) if he will estimate the number of (a) shops and (b) jobs lost as a result of the closure of high street chains in the last four years; [112557]

(2) how many high street chains have closed in the last five years. [112583]

Mr Prisk: It is not possible to single out job losses and shop closures attributable to “high street chains” specifically. However, the Office for National Statistics does collect data on the retail sector in general.

In the four-year period between 2007 and 2010, over 96,000 enterprises in the retail sector closed down. However, due to the creation of new enterprises, the number of retail companies declined by less than 15,000 over this period.

The following table lists the number of enterprise closures and the count of existing enterprises in each of these years.

 Retail enterprise closuresCount of existing retail enterprises

2007

23,550

230,995

2008

23,025

223,475

2009

25,830

221,120

2010

23,765

216,375

Source: ONS Business Demography

Between the years 2007 and 2011 the number of employee jobs in the retail sector fell by 96,000 to 2.8 million.

 Retail employee jobs

2007

2,909

2008

2,941

2009

2,872

2010

2,816

Source: ONS Employee Jobs

Student Loans Company

Nadine Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether past experience of improving customer service is one of the selection criteria for the new head of the Student Loans Company. [111398]

19 Jun 2012 : Column 990W

Mr Willetts: The post of chief executive of the Student Loans Company (SLC) is an executive appointment, and recruitment and appointment to the post is a matter for the SLC board. In conjunction with Scottish Ministers, I am responsible for the final approval of SLC's recommended candidate.

The candidate brief for the new chief executive requires candidates to demonstrate a proven track record of successfully leading complex, customer-facing organisations. The board will set his or her performance objectives.

Students: Loans

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department is commissioning the design and purchase of a computer system to administer 24+ Advanced Learning Loans through the Student Loans Company; what the likely costs are of the computer system; and what the timetable is for the project to be operational. [111791]

Mr Hayes [holding answer 14 June 2012]: To make available 24+ Advanced Learning Loans, we are building on systems already in place for higher education and working with the Student Loans Company and HM Revenue and Customs. In doing so, the use of existing technical architecture will be supplemented with some new service hardware components and platform upgrades. Our emphasis is on minimising additional cost and bureaucracy.

The loans system will go live on 31 March 2013.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department plans to make resources available to National Careers Service advisers to inform learners aged under 24 about the possibility of their taking up future 24+ Advanced Learning Loans as part of their career development. [112487]

Mr Hayes [holding answer 18 June 2012]: We are developing information materials on 24+ Advanced Learning Loans for use with potential learners, including those aged under 24. These will be made available to the National Careers Service and its advisers.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what eligibility there will be for 24+ learners to access Advanced Learning Loans for a qualification at the same level as already obtained, but in a different subject area. [112488]

Mr Hayes [holding answer 18 June 2012]: There will be no restrictions to accessing loans based upon prior attainment. However, where an individual has already had access to a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan to complete a course, they would not be eligible to receive a subsequent loan to complete the same type of course at the same level, even if that was in a different subject area. Learners will be eligible to receive subsequent loans to undertake courses at different levels or of different types in order to support progression.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what marketing budget will be made available to inform potential learners about the availability of 24+ Advanced Learning Loans in financial years (a) 2012-13 and (b) 2013-14. [112489]

19 Jun 2012 : Column 991W

Mr Hayes [holding answer 18 June 2012]: We want to ensure potential learners eligible for loans have the facts they need to make an informed choice. We will use a broad range of routes to communicate with potential learners, including the National Careers Service, colleges and training organisations, employers and trade union representatives. We will also use routes to communicate with specific groups such as prisoners and the unemployed.

We are developing information materials for potential learners which will be available through these routes, drawing on the research published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 11 May on learner attitudes to loans, and on further research with learners. The communications budget will reflect the outcome of this work.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions his Department has had with the National Careers Service about the implications for take-up by learners aged 35 and above of 24+ Advanced Learning Loans of his Department's market research on attitudes towards implementation of a loans scheme. [112490]

Mr Hayes [holding answer 18 June 2012]: The National Careers Service will be a key source of information about 24+ Advanced Learning Loans for learners considering studying from the 2013/14 academic year onwards. We are working with the Skills Funding Agency to ensure that National Careers Service advisers have the information they need about loans.

We are developing information materials on 24+ Advanced Learning Loans that will be available to the National Careers Service as well as other organisations that have contact with potential learners, including colleges and training organisations. These materials will be developed drawing on the research published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 11 May. Further research will be undertaken to test the materials, particularly with those aged 40 and above whom the research shows are less likely to respond positively to loans.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what consultation he has had with organisations representing post-24 learners with special educational needs about support to access advanced learning loans and to manage them. [112838]

Mr Hayes: In August 2011 the Government held a public consultation on proposals contained in ‘New Challenges, New Chances', including 24+ Advanced Learning Loans. The Government received responses from a wide range of organisations, including those representing post-24 learners with special educational needs.

Students: Work Experience

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what estimate his Department has made of the average charge to be made by universities to sandwich students during their year in industry under the new arrangements for tuition fees; [112571]

19 Jun 2012 : Column 992W

(2) whether his Department has issued guidelines to universities on how to calculate their charge to university sandwich students during their year in industry. [112572]

Mr Willetts [holding answer 18 June 2012]: The information requested is not available.

The Government set maximum tuition charge amounts for sandwich course placement years.

For sandwich course placement years in the 2012/13 academic year:

The maximum tuition charge for courses that began before 1 September 2012 is £1,725 (as set out in the Student Fees (Amounts) Regulations 2004 (as amended));

The maximum tuition charge for courses starting on or after 1 September 2012 is £4,500 (as set out in the Higher Education (Higher Amount) Regulations 2010 (as amended)).

As independent institutions, universities are responsible for setting a tuition charge that they deem to be appropriate, within the limits set in legislation.

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department issues guidelines to universities on the services they should offer to university sandwich students during their year in industry. [112573]

Mr Willetts [holding answer 18 June 2012]: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills does not issue guidance to universities on the services they should offer to sandwich students during their year in industry. As independent institutions, universities are responsible for their own affairs and they decide on the services they provide to their students.

Professor Sir Tim Wilson's independent review of business-university collaboration makes a recommendation on encouraging the provision and uptake of sandwich degree courses. The Government are currently considering the recommendations and will provide our formal response to the Wilson Review shortly.

Working Hours

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the average number of hours worked by UK workers compared to workers in other EU countries. [110527]

Norman Lamb: The UK participates in the European Union Labour Force Survey, which is conducted in the 27 member states of the European Union. The most recent figures available from this survey are for the year 2011. The following table sets out the average number of actual weekly hours of work for all those in employment across EU member states for that year. The figures quoted cover all workers (i.e. all employees, the self-employed and those on Government training schemes, both full- and part-time) as this is the information that has been requested.

If only full-time workers are included in the calculation, then the UK is above the EU average. Therefore, a second table has been included to show full-time workers only.

19 Jun 2012 : Column 993W

Full-time and part-time workers
CountryHours

Greece

40.9

Czech Republic

40.3

Bulgaria

40.2

Poland

39.5

Slovakia

39.5

Romania

39.2

Hungary

39.1

Estonia

38.6

Cyprus

38.6

Latvia

38.6

Slovenia

38.4

Lithuania

38.3

Portugal

38.0

Luxembourg

37.8

Malta

37.7

Spain

37.5

Italy

37.0

EU 27 average

36.9

Belgium

36.8

France

36.8

Austria

36.6

Finland

36.4

Sweden

35.7

Germany

35.6

UK

35.3

Denmark

34.9

Ireland

34.9

Netherlands

31.7

Full-time workers only
CountryHours

Greece

42.4

Austria

42.1

Germany

41.8

Netherlands

41.5

Belgium

41.4

Czech Republic

41.3

Luxembourg

41.3

Portugal

41.3

UK

41.1

19 Jun 2012 : Column 994W

Poland

41.1

EU 27 average

40.9

Cyprus

40.8

Slovenia

40.8

Romania

40.7

Spain

40.7

Bulgaria

40.7

Estonia

40.6

Slovakia

40.4

Malta

40.4

Latvia

40.3

Hungary

40.3

Italy

39.9

Denmark

39.9

Lithuania

39.9

France

39.8

Sweden

39.8

Ireland

39.7

Finland

39.0

Working Hours: EU Law

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many and what proportion of workers worked (a) more and (b) less than the hours specified in the working time directive in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [110524]

Norman Lamb: The working time directive sets a cap on weekly working time of 48 hours, averaged over a 17-week period. In the UK (and other EU member states) individuals can choose to work longer than an average of 48 hours per week by choosing to ‘opt-out’ of this weekly limit by notifying their employer in writing.

The Labour Force Survey is published by the Office of National Statistics. Using these data the numbers of workers working (a) more and (b) less than 48 hours is as follows:

 Total workersNumber of workers working less than 48 hours per weekNumber of workers working more than 48 hours per weekProportion of workers working less than 48 hours per week (%)Proportion of workers working more than 48 hours per week (%)

2012

29,051,824

24,996,006

4,055,818

86.0

14.0

2011

28,222,435

24,146,030

4,076,405

85.6

14.4

2010

27,807,751

23,867,519

3,940,232

85.8

14.2

2009

28,224,245

24,231,721

3,992,524

85.9

14.1

2008

28,544,720

24,223,680

4,321,040

84.9

15.1

2007

28,099,607

23,971,512

4,128,095

85.3

14.7

2006

28,025,421

23,809,920

4,215,501

85.0

15.0

2005

28,176,170

23,527,102

4,649,068

83.5

16.5

2004

27,658,088

23,180,611

4,477,477

83.8

16.2

2003

27,378,642

22,816,346

4,562,296

83.3

16.7

2002

26,974,026

22,325,043

4,648,983

82.8

17.2

Source: Q1 Labour Force Survey, all in employment, based on usual hours worked

The values above include all workers, i.e. employees, the self-employed and those on Government training schemes. It should therefore be noted that these figures include those who are not covered by the working time directive.

Also, the Labour Force Survey samples a one-week period rather than the 17-week reference period outlined in UK legislation.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has

19 Jun 2012 : Column 995W

made of the effect of the implementation of the European working time directive on

(a)

family life and

(b)

individual mental health and stress levels. [110525]

Norman Lamb: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr Davey) gave on 24 January 2012, Official Report, columns 233-34W, to his earlier parliamentary question on the assessment made of the effect of the implementation of the European working time directive on family life.

19 Jun 2012 : Column 996W

With respect to individual mental health and stress levels, the 5th European Working Conditions Survey (2010)(1) found that, within the EU, the UK has the second lowest proportion of those in employment reporting that their work affects their health or causes them to suffer from stress. In terms of work-life balance, 87% of UK workers said their working hours fit family/social commitments outside work well or very well, the third highest proportion in the EU.

(1) Fifth European Working Conditions Survey 2010 European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions