Conditions of Employment

Julie Elliott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people are employed on zero-hour contracts in his Department. [140253]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) do not employ the term “Zero Hour Contract” with its employed staff. However, we have interpreted the question to mean staff who are employed for specific work and are only paid/reimbursed for the work they undertake. The FCO have five members of staff on this type of contract. These are former members of staff and are mainly involved in the preparation of official visits.

Diplomatic Service

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what the cost was of upgrading the diplomatic posts in (a) Abidjan Madagascar to an embassy, (b) Hyderabad to a deputy

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high commission and

(c)

Calgary and Recife to a consulate general; [143567]

(2) what the proceeds were of the sale of (a) property and (b) assets following the closure of the Consulates General in (i) Lille, (ii) Lyon, (iii) Florence, (iv) Venice and (v) Geneva; [143568]

(3) what estimate he has made of the cost of opening new embassies in (a) Asuncion, (b) Mogadishu, (c) Port-au-Prince, (d) Bishkek, (e) Juba, (f) San Salvador and (g) Vientiane; and what the value is of each new embassy building; [143618]

(4) what estimate he has made of the cost of upgrading the (a) embassy in Monrovia and (b) high commission in Chandigarh. [143619]

Mr Lidington: We are embarking on a substantial reinvigoration of the diplomatic network to make it ready for the 21st century; to expand our connections with the emerging powers of the world. We are funding this expansion through the reallocation of FCO resources, the withdrawal of diplomatic staff from some subordinate posts in Europe, while retaining an UKTI and consular presence in many cases. This will lead to fewer subordinate posts. We will maintain all our existing embassies. Other savings will be found as we reduce our diplomatic footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan over time; and we will continue to reprioritise budgets to strengthen frontline foreign policy work.

For more information on the network shift, I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), to the House on 11 May 2011, Official Report, columns 1165-68.

The costs the hon. Member asks for are as follows.

PostEstimated annual operating costs (£ million)One off capital costs (estimated where not yet open) (£ million)Comment

Abidjan

0.016

 

This was upgraded within the existing resources of Africa Directorate at no additional cost, as we already owned suitable property.

Antananarivo

0.4

0.5

 

Asuncion

0.6

2.1

An Embassy building has yet to be identified.

Bishkek

0.3

0.8

We rent within a building and are upgrading a floor for our use;

Calgary

0.08

 

(partially offset by savings in Vancouver)

Chandigarh

0.40

0.5

Chandigarh is not yet open; it will be a newly-opened high commission and these are estimated costs

Hyderabad

0.4

 

Rental uplift

Juba

n/a

 

Additional resources in Juba were offset by changes in Khartoum; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not have its own building as it operates out of the Department for International Development office in Juba and makes a contribution to running costs

Mogadishu

3.4

7.2

 

Monrovia

0.1

0.5

 

Port au Prince

Not yet available

 

Is a co-location within the Canadian Embassy with whom we are negotiating a figure to cover rent and provision of other corporate services.

Recite

0.2

  

San Salvador

0.4

2

Embassy building is valued at £0.44 million

Vientiane

0.4

0.3

We are presently co-located in a building provided by the Australians

Lille, Lyon, Florence and Venice were rented properties and leases were terminated. None of these properties were sold. We retain our building in Geneva—our mission to the UN—but consular functions transferred from there to the embassy in Berne. Other assets, such as IT, are generally returned to the UK rather than sold.

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Egypt

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will consider the recent report by Amnesty International on gender-based violence against women around Tahrir Square; and if he will make a statement. [143702]

Alistair Burt: I welcome the recent report by Amnesty International and am deeply concerned at the increase in violent sexual attacks against women in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas in Egypt that it details.

I raised our concerns about violence against women with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, when I spoke to him on 18 February. I also discussed the protection of women with a range of political and civil society figures when I visited Egypt on 15-16 January. We will continue to follow the human rights situation in Egypt closely.

Food: Waste

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much surplus food was thrown away by his Department in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [143453]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not keep an official record of the volume of food waste removed from its UK offices at the present time.

The FCO contracted caterer (ESS) does not manage the waste contract for the FCO and therefore cannot provide the overall details of food waste from all of the buildings in FCO. They do have internal controls to manage food waste in the kitchen. They record any wastage on a weekly basis; enabling them to reduce waste wherever possible. These records are for internal use and are not retained for client reporting purposes.

The FCO has plans to separate out food waste in the future which will be reported on by our waste contractor.

India

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise with his Indian counterpart the issue of ensuring that Dalits are prioritised in the strengthening of safety measures for women and girls in India following the recent gang rape and death of a 23 year old student in New Delhi. [144012]

Mr Swire: The Government is aware of the particular concerns around the treatment of Dalit women, including the trafficking and sexual exploitation of Dalit women and girls. We will continue to raise these issues with appropriate authorities at national and state level and also through the EU/India Human Rights Dialogue.

We note that the report of the Justice Verma Committee on sexual violence against women in India recommends that strong action is taken against those found guilty of trafficking women and children. We are encouraged by the Indian Government's positive response to the recommendations of the Verma Committee. We will continue to follow closely the implementation of its recommendations.

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Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Government of India to prevent the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana. [144029]

Mr Swire: On 28 March 2012, the Indian Home Ministry issued a stay of execution for Balwant Singh Rajoana. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, is still considering an appeal for clemency. We welcome this step. I raised the UK's position on the death penalty with India's Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, on 19 February, making clear the UK's opposition to the death penalty and urging India to re-establish the moratorium on its use.

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of India on (a) prisoners at risk of execution and (b) the abolition of the death penalty. [144658]

Mr Swire: It is regrettable that the de facto moratorium on the death penalty, in place since 2004, was broken in November 2012 and then again with the execution of Afzal Guru on 9 February 2013. In my meeting in Delhi with India's Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, on 19 February. I made clear the UK's opposition to the death penalty and urged India to re-establish the moratorium on its use. India's use of the death penalty will also be discussed at the EU/India Human Rights Dialogue which is scheduled to take place at the end of February.

Intelligence Services: International Co-operation

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with which countries the UK has (a) formal and (b) informal intelligence sharing arrangements. [143470]

Alistair Burt: It is the policy of successive UK Governments not to comment on matters of intelligence and national security.

Iran

Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will support a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran at the forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council that will go beyond a procedural mandate and address the (a) substantive human rights problems in Iran and (b) persecution of the Bahá'í community in that country; and if he will make a statement. [143517]

Alistair Burt: Securing the extension of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran at the forthcoming Human Rights Council is a UK priority. We are currently considering our position on the text of the resolution to secure this mandate. A procedural resolution may be easier to achieve. The UK will refer to the reported escalation of persecution of the Baha’is in Iran in its intervention during the presentation of the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Council on 11 March, as well as a number of other examples of Iran’s appalling human rights record.

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Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department will raise the persecution of the Bahá'í community in Iran during the dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva; and if he will make a statement. [143519]

Alistair Burt: Securing the extension of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran at the forthcoming Human Rights Council is a UK priority. We are currently considering our position on the text of the resolution to secure this mandate. A procedural resolution may be easier to achieve. The UK will refer to the reported escalation of persecution of the Baha’is in Iran in its intervention during the presentation of the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Council on 11 March, as well as a number of other examples of Iran’s appalling human rights record.

Israel

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions he has met the Israeli Ambassador to the UK between 1 and 30 November 2012. [143410]

Alistair Burt: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), did not meet the Israeli ambassador to the UK in November 2012. However I met with the ambassador on 1 November as part of the UK and Israel's annual Strategic Dialogue, bringing together senior officials from both countries.

Kenya

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department is issuing precautionary advice to UK nationals in Kenya up to and following the Kenyan presidential elections on 4 March 2013. [144154]

Mark Simmonds: We have, since November 2012, flagged the forthcoming elections, due on 4 March, in our Travel Advice for Kenya. We will continue to keep our Travel Advice under close review.

Lord's Resistance Army

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking through diplomatic channels to organise a collective response to the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army. [143494]

Mark Simmonds: The UK has consistently promoted a co-ordinated international approach to defeating the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and is particularly active in leading this work in the UN Security Council. We are encouraging the affected countries, alongside the UN and African Union (AU), to convene a high-level meeting to discuss how to bring an end to the threat which the LRA poses to thousands of innocent civilians. I discussed the issue with the Ugandan Acting Foreign Minister in Kampala, and at the UNGA last year. FCO officials

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also participate in the International Working Group on the LRA, and have regular contact with their US State Department and European External Action Service (EEAS) counterparts, as well as contact with NGOs on the issue.

Mali

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the deployment of human rights monitors in Mali. [143869]

Mark Simmonds: As part of a multi-disciplinary presence in Mali, the Resolution also called on the UN to monitor the human rights situation. A team of four human rights officials forms part of the new UN Office in Mali, which began deploying in January. This team will lay the ground for a more substantial UN human rights deployment in due course.

We have regular discussions with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and in February we held discussions with the new head of the UN human rights office in Bamako. We are supportive of the UN's planned work in Mali, which includes efforts to establish communications systems to monitor violations and abuses, improve coordination among the international community, and liaise with the Malian Government, Malian armed forces and AFISMA to monitor and investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuses. We also understand that the UN office will carry out some training for local human rights monitors.

As well as work ongoing in Mali, we support discussion of the human rights situation in Mali at the UN Human Rights Council, whose 22(nd) session starts on 25 February. The High Commissioner for Human Rights will update the Human Rights Council on the situation in Mali on 20 March. If appropriate, we will support a resolution on monitoring and investigating allegations of human rights violations and abuses in Mali.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that all military forces active in Mali act in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2085. [143870]

Mark Simmonds: Britain supported UN Security-Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2085 which states that any support to Mali should be consistent with international humanitarian, human rights law and refugee law. UNSCR 2085 requests the UN Secretary-General to ensure the relevant capacity within the UN presence in Mali to observe adherence to these laws with regards to military operations and include in his regular reports to the Security Council any violations.

It is important that access throughout Mali is ensured for UN human rights monitors. A team of four human rights officials, pursuant to UNSCR 2085 forms part of the new UN Office in Mali which began deploying in January.

Training on human rights and international humanitarian law training—including the protection of civilians—will be an integral part of the EU Training Mission and any training provided by Britain. We have also offered a team of experts to the EU Training Mission to provide advice on preventing and responding to sexual violence.

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Middle East

Stuart Andrew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Palestinian Authority on the importance of direct peace talks. [143205]

Alistair Burt: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 11 February 2013, Official Report, column 490W.

North Korea

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what discussions he plans to have with his counterparts at the United Nations on the nuclear test in north Korea and measures to prevent an increase in such activity; [143807]

(2) what discussions he plans to have with his United Nations counterparts on preventing an escalation of the problems associated with nuclear testing in north Korea. [144153]

Mr Swire: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement that the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), laid on 13 February 2013, Official Report, column 47WS. Since this statement, officials in New York have had additional discussions with their counterparts from other members of the Security Council on the further measures that could be taken to respond to north Korea’s latest provocation and to dissuade it from carrying out further provocations. Officials from our embassy in Beijing also met with the Chinese Six-Party Talks representative to emphasise the need for a united and firm international response. These discussions will continue.

Nuclear Weapons

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had regarding support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention; and if he will make a statement. [144518]

Alistair Burt: The UK is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and is actively working towards creating the conditions to realise that goal. The primary means to achieve this should be through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and specifically through the NPT Action Plan that was agreed by all NPT signatories in 2010.

The UK Government believe that a Nuclear Weapons Convention could not succeed in the present international environment. Until the necessary political and security conditions are in place, we believe that attempts to establish such a convention would risk diluting international efforts around the NPT and undermining or duplicating the work of established disarmament fora, including the Conference on Disarmament.

The UK's focus at present should be on building the right environment that will make multilateral nuclear disarmament a realistic possibility. As the instigator of the inaugural P5 Conference, we are working to help build the trust and mutual confidence between states needed to achieve this. We are working with international partners to make it as hard as possible for states to develop, produce or acquire nuclear weapons. Key to

25 Feb 2013 : Column 328W

this will be starting negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament towards a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and achieving the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Nuclear Weapons: Middle East

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many members of his Department are working on the proposed WMD-Free Middle East Conference. [144522]

Alistair Burt: There are five officials within the Counter Proliferation Department that have specific responsibility for work on the Middle East WMD Free Zone conference. They are supported by, and work closely with, relevant geographical departments and posts.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which meetings his Department has held with foreign representatives regarding the proposed WMD-Free Middle East Conference (a) since the NPT Review Conference 2010 and (b) in 2013. [144523]

Alistair Burt: Since the 2010 NPT Review Conference, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials and Ministers have engaged in regular meetings and discussions on the proposed Middle East WMD Free Zone conference with our fellow co-convenors (the US, Russia and the UN) and Jakko Laajava, the facilitator for the conference. We have also engaged regularly with officials from states of the region.

The FCO Minister responsible for counter-proliferation, Alistair Burt, discussed the conference with his counterparts from the Middle East, for example with the Egyptian Foreign Minister on 18 February 2013. He has also met with the conference facilitator on numerous occasions, most recently in January 2013.

FCO officials have discussed the conference in visits to the region, for example, meeting with the Arab League in Cairo in October 2012 and visiting Israel in February 2013. UK Posts in the region have also discussed the conference with their hosts on numerous occasions, including at ambassadorial level.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has spoken to the (a) Israeli Prime Minister, (b) Israeli Foreign Minister or (c) Israeli Ambassador regarding the proposed WMD-Free Middle East Conference since the Israeli general election. [144524]

Alistair Burt: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) has not spoken with his counterpart in Israel, or the Israeli Prime Minister or ambassador, on this matter since the Israeli general election. In early February 2013, senior officials travelled to Israel to discuss the proposed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Free Zone Conference and wider counter-proliferation issues with their Israeli counterparts. The Government support the objective of a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East and continues to encourage Israel to participate in discussions to that end.

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Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which (a) Ministers in his Department and (b) officials will join the UK delegation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee in Geneva. [144519]

Alistair Burt: We take a keen interest in the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The UK delegation for the NPT Preparatory Committee, which begins on 22 April 2013, will be made up of officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Ministry of Defence (MoD), and Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). We do not currently envisage ministerial attendance at the NPT Preparatory Committee 2013.

Occupied Territories

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of Israel on measures to limit the number of civilian casualties in Gaza. [143408]

Alistair Burt: The Government have repeatedly called on Israel to observe international humanitarian law and avoid civilian casualties, including in the context of the Gaza conflict last November. We have made clear to Israel our longstanding concerns about the manner in which the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) polices the buffer zone between Israel and Gaza. In the context of recent cases of Palestinian civilians killed by the IDF in both Gaza and the West Bank, officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv have reiterated our concerns over the IDF's use of live ammunition with both the Israeli Ministry of Defence and National Security Council.

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage Israel to end settlement building. [143409]

Alistair Burt: It is the Government's longstanding view that settlements are illegal under international law and threaten prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have repeatedly condemned Israel's announcements expanding settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and regularly raise our profound concerns over Israel's settlement policy at the highest levels.

I summoned the Israeli ambassador to the UK on 3 December, to set out our concerns about announcements following the Palestinian UN General Assembly resolution, including the unfreezing of planning for the area known as El. Both the Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), have underlined our concern about Israel's settlement policy in contacts with their counterparts. We will continue to press the next Israeli Government to cease all settlement activity.

Palestinians

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Israeli Government on the actions

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of the Israeli military in the village of Al-Maleh in the northern Jordan valley and on the reported destruction of homes and animal shelters in that area. [142864]

Alistair Burt: We have repeatedly raised the issue of demolitions in the Jordan valley with the Israeli authorities. We view such demolitions and evictions as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; as harmful to the peace process; and, in all but the most limited circumstances, as contrary to international humanitarian law.

The recent demolition of homes in the Al-Maleh region of Jordan valley was discussed by our embassy officials in Tel Aviv with the Israeli co-ordinator of Government Activities Territories on 21 January 2013. They raised concerns over the decision, and the impact on the local community.

I will also continue to discuss issues linked to settlements and demolitions with Israel’s ambassador to the UK.

John Howell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure Hamas accepts and abides by the Quartet principles. [R] [143390]

Alistair Burt: The Government's position remains that if Hamas wish to be treated by the UK and the rest of the international community like other Islamist movements in the region, they must first make credible steps towards the conditions of renouncing violence, recognising Israel and accepting previously signed agreements, in line with the Quartet principles. We are following ongoing discussions on Palestinian reconciliation. If, through the reconciliation process with Fatah, Hamas supports a new unified Palestinian Government which rejects violence and pursues a negotiated peace, that would be a good first step.

We also urge Hamas to continue to respect the ceasefire agreed with Israel on 21 November 2012. We are calling on all sides to take advantage of the continuing talks in Cairo to address the fundamental issues facing Gaza, including more access for people and goods and an end to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza.

Piracy

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterparts in the states bordering the Indian ocean on the ability of private security companies to store weapons when not operational on counter-piracy operations. [143506]

Alistair Burt: Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have had discussions with the authorities in a number of states bordering the Indian ocean on the ability of private security companies to store weapons.

To date, no merchant ship carrying private maritime security companies has been hijacked in the high risk area off the coast of Somalia and wider Indian ocean, which has inevitably led to a growth in the industry. In turn, this has led to an increase in the number of weapons transiting the ports and national armouries of these states. Officials have worked with the authorities in these states and with industry to resolve concerns about weapons transit and security. 90% of private maritime security companies are UK registered and the Government are committed to working to raise standards

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within this industry. However, recognising the contribution they make to counter-piracy efforts in this region, it is important for the responsible companies to be able to operate without undue delay to remain at a commercial advantage.

Discussions with the authorities in these states have sought to find a solution to ensure the safe and secure storage of weapons is compatible with the dynamic requirements of the private maritime security industry. From the UK, we regulate the movement of weapons by UK private maritime security companies using UK trade licences, which authorise holders to move weapons between two third countries. In February 2012, the Government introduced the open general trade control license (maritime anti-piracy) that gave UK companies the flexibility they needed while ensuring the Government retained case by case oversight on proposed movements of weapons.

In addition, we are aware that the complexities with transiting weapons through the ports of these states has led a number of companies to consider the use of merchant vessels in international waters as ‘floating armouries’. These armouries present a number of complex legal and security challenges and Government are working with partners to explore how best to mitigate these risks while not putting UK private maritime security companies at a commercial disadvantage.

Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what regulations his Department introduced between 1 June 2012 and 31 January 2013; and at what cost to the public purse. [143604]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office introduced no regulations between 1 June 2012 and 31 January 2013 but it introduced 21 Orders in Council and one Legislative Reform Order during this period. Most of these orders related to the implementation of United Nations and EU sanctions measures in the UK overseas territories. Two orders concerned the simplification of the procedures for the registration of civil partnerships overseas and one order provided for the technical updating of primary legislation to take account of renumbered EU treaty articles following entry into force of the Lisbon treaty.

Overseas territories sanctions orders do not apply in the UK and therefore impose no costs in the UK. None of the other orders is expected to impose any costs.

Saeed Abedini

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the detention of Saeed Abedini in Iran; and if he will make a statement. [143528]

Alistair Burt: We remain very concerned about the treatment of American Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini and his sentencing on 27 January to eight years in prison for “acts against national security”. The charges appear to relate to his involvement in the Christian “house church” movement in Iran. We urge the Iranian Government to release him and to cease the shocking persecution of individuals based on their faith.

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Staff

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff are based in each property used by his Department. [143314]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has over 4,700 properties in over 270 locations around the world. It would not be possible to provide the level of detail requested in the time scale and it would also be at disproportionate cost.

A list of owned offices world-wide was provided in my answer of 13 September 2012, Official Report, column 322W. A copy has been placed in the Commons Library. Overseas, we own a total of 2,312 buildings (including those for residential use) and rent 2,380 buildings (again including those for residential use).

Sudan

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the arrest and detainment of signatories of the new Dawn Charter in Sudan; and what representation he has made to the Government of Sudan regarding the deteriorating health of Mohamed Zain Al Abideen. [144015]

Mark Simmonds: We are very concerned at the arrest of six political opposition members in Khartoum, one of whom has since been released. Officials at our embassy in Khartoum are monitoring the situation very closely, in co-ordination with our EU partners. We have raised our concerns about the case of Dr Mohamed Zain Al Abideen, a dual national, in a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have sent written requests for consular access on 31 January and 3 February and have met with members of his family. We regularly stress the importance of protecting civil and political rights in Sudan in order that opposition groups and members of the public have the opportunity to air their opinions through legitimate political channels. Our embassy in Khartoum continues to make these points, on a regular basis to the Sudanese Government.

Terrorism

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 22 October 2012, Official Report, column 747W, on terrorism, what action his Department is taking to prevent or disrupt the payment of ransoms to (a) organised crime groups and (b) terrorist groups. [143508]

Alistair Burt: The Government maintain a long-held policy of not making substantive concessions to hostage takers because it believes that substantive concessions serve only to fuel the problem and increase the risk to our nationals.

While it is not illegal to pay a ransom under UK law to organised crime groups, including pirates, the UK Government will not facilitate payment and counsels others against doing so. The Government are committed to tackling the strategic threat posed by organised crime groups and in the case of piracy have been at the forefront of establishing international consensus on

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reducing and avoiding the payment of ransoms to pirates operating off the coast of Somalia.

In the case of terrorist kidnaps, it is illegal to pay ransoms to terrorists under international and UK law. The Government will therefore not pay ransoms to terrorists. This is a tough policy, but the right one since it reduces the funding available to terrorists, and also keeps British nationals safe. The Prime Minister has made clear our determination to tackle the threat posed by terrorists across the world. This includes working with the international community, including through the G8, to provide an intelligent and measured, long-term response to the terrorist threat.

Treaties

Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department last undertook an audit of the currency of the UK’s international treaty obligations as recorded in the UK treaties online section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website; and if he will place in the Library a list of all treaties in respect of which the UK has (a) extant treaty obligations, (b) expired treaty obligations and (c) revoked or modified treaty obligations. [143805]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not undertaken an audit of the UK’s current international treaty obligations. The UK treaties online (UKTO) application on the FCO’s website includes records of the majority of treaties known to have been concluded by the UK since the early 19th century. The UKTO database was created with the aim of enabling public access to information about UK treaties in the most helpful and cost-effective fashion possible. It would be disproportionately expensive to review the 14,000 treaties recorded on the database.

Some of the treaties are either no longer in force, or they are no longer in force for the UK because they were concluded by the United Kingdom on behalf of a former colonial territory. Where the FCO’s own records indicate that a treaty has definitely been terminated, this is shown on the relevant UKTO record.

The several thousand ‘live’ treaties to which the UK is party play a crucial role in governing the UK’s place in the world and its relations with other states, to the benefit of all its people. Such treaties include extradition, mutual legal assistance, military co-operation, double taxation, tax information exchange, and aviation treaties, to name but a few. They also include the founding treaties of international organisations, such as the EU and NATO.

Tunisia

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to support democratic Government in Tunisia. [143524]

Alistair Burt: The UK supports the process of democratisation in Tunisia. Through the UK's Arab Partnership we have supported capacity building for Assembly members charged with the task of producing a new constitution which we hope will serve to protect the rights of all Tunisians for generations to come.

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In 2011-12 the British embassy in Tunis funded over £1 million of projects in Tunisia through the programme providing support to the political transition through capacity building for political parties, voter education and media reform as well as vocational training and microcredit lending. In the F/Y 2012-13 this has more than doubled to £2.4 million.

We are also working in partnership with the Tunisian Government to increase co-operation and to support economic reform, both bilaterally and through the EU. Under the G8 presidency the UK will work through the G8's Deauville Partnership which brings together the G8, regional partner countries and leading international, financial institutions to provide political and practical assistance to six-transition countries, including Tunisia. The partnership was created to provide co-ordinate support for political, social and economic reforms taking place in these countries. Under the UK presidency this support will focus on promoting economic growth and open, inclusive societies. The initiatives include a major investment conference, technical assistance and an SME mentoring programme.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterpart in Tunisia on the recent shooting of an opposition leader; and whether in those discussions he expressed concerns over human rights and security in that country. [144650]

Alistair Burt: I issued a statement to condemn the assassination of Chokri Belaid on 6 February, in which I urged Tunisia's leaders to restore calm and follow a process of inclusion and consensus-building to ensure the democratic transition remains on course. I reinforced these messages in my discussions with Secretary of State for European Affairs, Tahoumi Abdouli on 7 February. I discussed the security situation in Tunisia and emphasised the security challenges in the region. Our ambassador to Tunisia and embassy officials have had regular discussions with political leaders and government representatives over recent weeks and reiterated the need for dialogue, consensus and respect for human rights and the democratic transition.

Western Sahara

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 11 February 2013, Official Report, column 491W, on Western Sahara, what reports he has received on whether MINURSO has verified the reduction of Moroccan troops in the territory as called for in its mandate. [143856]

Alistair Burt: MINURSO reports each year to the UN Security Council, most recently in document S/2012/197. MINURSO continues to visit and monitor units of the Royal Moroccan Army and the military forces of Frente Polisario for adherence to the military agreements and will report again in April 2013.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 11 February 2013, Official Report, column 491W, on Western Sahara, what reports he has received on

25 Feb 2013 : Column 335W

whether MINURSO has monitored the confinement of Moroccan and Frente Polisario troops to designated locations as called for in its mandate. [143857]

Alistair Burt: MINURSO reports each year to the UN Security Council, most recently in document S/2012/197. MINURSO is mandated to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario, as set out in the military agreement between the two sides. The military agreement specifies restrictions in place in the restricted zone either side of the boundary between the two sides, but does not specify total numbers of Moroccan troops in Western Sahara.

Zimbabwe

Neil Parish: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to ensure that the Government of Zimbabwe respect the rule of law and human rights. [143516]

Mark Simmonds: The British Government work closely with civil society organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe to monitor the human rights environment and application of the rule of law. We are concerned that a culture of impunity is widespread in Zimbabwe. We continue to raise concerns at the use of repressive legislation for political purposes. We condemn the harassment of CSOs and politically motivated human rights violations.

Britain regularly urges the Government of Zimbabwe to implement legal and institutional reforms to end violence and impunity, and to ensure the restoration of internationally accepted human rights standards. Our embassy in Harare has raised specific human rights cases with Ministers and senior officials in the Government of Zimbabwe. We also work closely with the EU on these issues, and welcomed their local statement of November 2012 condemning the harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and members of civil society.

The British Government welcome the new Zimbabwean Human Rights Commission Bill which passed into law on 12 October 2012. However, we are concerned that the chair of the Human Rights Commission subsequently resigned in December 2012 in protest at the lack of resources and progress. We continue to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to implement the recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council at its Universal Periodic Review in October 2011.

Work and Pensions

Alcoholic Drinks

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the level of alcohol-related absenteeism in his Department; whether his Department has an (a) internal alcohol policy and (b) occupational health strategy; and if he will publish such documents. [143976]

Mr Hoban: DWP does not have a specific category for recording alcohol-related absences so is unable to provide an estimate of alcohol-related absenteeism.

25 Feb 2013 : Column 336W

(a) DWP has an internal alcohol misuse policy. The policy provides for a wide range of support while ensuring that the standards of the Department are protected. The Department accepts that alcohol dependency is a condition requiring help and treatment. This means that it carries the same employment protection as any other illness.

(b) DWP has an Occupational Health Policy which is delivered by an external occupational health provider. The service provides advice on a wide range of health conditions to enable support in the workplace and this includes alcohol related problems. We also offer an Employee Assistance Programme delivered by an external provider that gives access to counselling for all employees.

These policies will be placed in the Library.

Atos Healthcare

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been paid by his Department to Atos in the last two financial years; and how many Atos employees are under contract to his Department. [143543]

Mr Hoban: The amounts paid by the Department to Atos in the last two financial years are as follows:

April 2010 to March 2011 amounted to £112.8 million.

April 2011 to March 2012 amounted to £112.4 million.

The Medical Services contract figures not only cover the total number of assessments undertaken across all benefits, but also costs relating to written and verbal medical advice, fixed overheads, administrative costs, investment in new technology and other service improvements

There are 1,714 Atos employees working on the DWP Medical Services contract as at the end of January 2013.

Accommodation

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what occupation costs of each type are incurred for each property used by his Department. [143303]

Mr Hoban: Since 1998 the Department for Work and Pensions occupies the majority of its accommodation under a private finance initiative (PFI) known as the PRIME contract.

Under the terms of this PFI the Department leases back fully serviced accommodation from its private sector partner Telereal Trillium. We pay an all-inclusive unitary price, known as the Facility Price (FP), for all our occupation costs.

However, to collect and collate all the information requested for over 900 properties occupied by the Department would take significant resource and would be disproportionately expensive.

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) total floor space and (b) floor space measured in square metres per full-time equivalent post is of properties used by his Department. [143366]

Mr Hoban: Since 1998 the Department for Work and Pensions occupies the majority of its accommodation under a private finance initiative (PFI) known as the PRIME Contract. Under the terms of this PFI the Department leases back fully serviced accommodation from its private sector partner Telereal Trillium.

25 Feb 2013 : Column 337W

We pay an all-inclusive unitary price, known as the Facility Price (FP), for all our occupation costs in the space we occupy.

The total floor space of properties in use is 1,542,303 square metres.

The total full-time equivalent (FTE) posts is 94,097.

Therefore, the floor space measured in square metres, per FTE, is approximately 16.39 square metres.

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the names and locations are of all properties used by officials of his Department; whether those properties are (a) owned by the Department, (b) leased by the Department and (c) subject to a private finance initiative agreement; when existing lease agreements relating to such properties are due to expire; and what the total floor space is of each property. [143387]

Mr Hoban: Since 1998 the Department for Work and Pensions occupies the majority of its accommodation under a private finance initiative (PFI) known as the PRIME contract.

Under the terms of this PFI the Department pays an all-inclusive unitary price for fully serviced accommodation from its private sector partner Telereal Trillium. Therefore, as the Department does not own or lease any properties, lease end or lease break dates are not relevant until the PRIME contract ends in 2018.

To collect and collate all the information requested for over 900 individual properties occupied by the Department would take significant resource and would be disproportionately expensive.

However, we can advise that the total floor space of all properties combined, as at February 2013, is 1,542,303 m(2).

Cold Weather Payments

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners who will claim winter fuel allowance in (a) Glasgow North West constituency, (b) Glasgow, (c) Scotland and (d) the UK in (i) 2014, (ii) 2015 and (iii) 2016. [144213]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

Caseload forecasts for Great Britain by individual benefit, including winter fuel payment, can be found on the internet at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/autumn_2012_211212.xls

Table 1c provides caseload by year to 2017-18.

Information on the number of winter fuel payments paid is provided in the document ‘Winter Fuel Payment recipients 2011-12 by Parliamentary Constituencies and Gender (All)’. We expect a similar number of payments to be made in future years. This information is available on the internet at:

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

Over 95% of winter fuel payments are made automatically, without the need to claim, based on information held in DWP records. A small number of people whose circumstances we do not know need to make a claim. It is not possible to give the exact number

25 Feb 2013 : Column 338W

of eligible people, but we have no reason to estimate that eligibility is materially different from the number of payments made.

Disability: Public Lavatories

Bob Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the need for disabled accessible and assisted toilets at public events to facilitate either side transfers for people in wheelchairs. [144192]

Esther McVey: When planning an event, organisers are required, under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, to consider the needs of disabled people, and whether reasonable adjustments should be made to ensure that they are not put at a substantial disadvantage in attending or taking part in the event. This includes anticipating the need to provide disabled people with adequate accessible and assisted facilities at public events where it would be reasonable to do so.

What is reasonable in any particular case is ultimately for a Court to decide, but for example, a group of local volunteers with no significant financial backing running a small village fete with free entry would probably not be under a duty to make specific provision, although it would be wise to explore what other provision there may be nearby, such as in local businesses. However, a commercial promoter running a large event expecting thousands of paying visitors to an open air all day event would probably be under a duty to make sure there was toilet provision for disabled people who would otherwise be unable to access the event without significant disadvantage.

Employment and Support Allowance

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how far in advance of the end of their contribution-based employment and support allowance (ESA) claim the claimant is notified in writing that the claim will end; and, when claimants receive such a notification, whether information is given about income-based ESA and they are provided with any necessary paperwork to make a claim for the allowance. [143895]

Mr Hoban: Eight weeks before time-limited contribution-based employment and support allowance is due to end a notification is issued to the claimant. The notification advises the claimant whether or not income-based employment and support allowance can be awarded automatically on the basis of information already held. If this is not possible, the notification provides advice about claiming income-based employment and support allowance and provides a phone number if the claimant wishes to receive a claim form. A reminder is issued to the claimant four weeks before benefit is due to end. Where there is no contact three weeks before benefit is due to end, checks are carried out to see whether a phone call or a visit is to be made because the customer is considered to be vulnerable.

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken is for processing income-based employment and support allowance claims. [143896]

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Mr Hoban: The actual average clearance time for processing new employment and support allowance claims from April 2012 to January 2013 is 10.6 working days.

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints his Department has received from claimants who have been left without any benefit income following the closure of their claim for contribution-based employment and support allowance since May 2012. [143934]

Mr Hoban: While the DWP does record complaints, it is not able to identify the number of those complaints which relate specifically to contribution-based ESA or to claimants being left without any benefit income. This information would entail the scrutiny of individual records and could therefore be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of people in the employment and support allowance work-related activity group left the benefit within 12 months of starting on it in the most recent period for which figures are available. [144195]

Mr Hoban: The information requested can be found at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/tabtools/guidance.pdf

Food: Waste

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much surplus food was thrown away by his Department in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [143463]

Mr Hoban: Since 1998 the Department for Work and Pensions has occupied the majority of its accommodation under a private finance initiative (PFI) known as the PRIME Contract. Under the terms of this PFI the Department lease back fully serviced accommodation from its private sector partner Telereal Trillium which includes the provision of all catering services through their service partner, Compass Group.

The latest figures available from Telereal Trillium relate to 2008-09 and 2009-10, and include waste from the preparation of food, waste from service counters and customer plate waste. The figures are estimates. (Figures for 2010-11 and 2011-12 will not be available until 31 March 2013).

Financial yearFood waste (kg)

2008-09

39,755

2009-10

51,489

It is worth noting that there was an increase in counter sales for 2009-10 of 6%, compared with the same period in 2008-09. This may account in part for the increased food waste figures in that year.

25 Feb 2013 : Column 340W

Health and Safety Executive

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the minutes of the Health and Safety Executive board meeting of 31 October 2012 will be published. [143697]

Mr Hoban: The Health and Safety Executive board meeting of 31 October 2012 was fully closed; minutes will therefore not be published.

Housing Benefit

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the proportion of tenants in social housing who will not be able to pay their rent as a consequence of the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty. [143660]

Steve Webb: This information is not available.

There are a number of options available to meet shortfalls in housing benefit below rent resulting from the social sector under-occupation measure. For example, this could include increasing working hours, taking in a lodger, or moving to smaller accommodation in either the social or private sector. It is for individual claimants to determine what is the best approach for them.

The behavioural responses of claimants and landlords affected by the size criteria will be included in the planned independent monitoring and evaluation to assess the effects of the introduction of size criteria in the social rented sector.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of unpaid carers who will be affected by the under-occupancy rules where a partner's disability requires a separate bedroom. [143712]

Steve Webb: The information is not available.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to exclude residential properties owned by local authorities when used as temporary accommodation from the under-occupation rules for housing benefit. [143719]

Steve Webb: The policy is not to exclude local authority stock from the effect of the under-occupation charge where local authorities are discharging their functions under the appropriate legislation. However, certain temporary accommodation made available to the claimant is exempt and this is:

(a) Accommodation—

(i) provided for a charge, where that charge includes the provision of that accommodation and some cooked or prepared meals which are also cooked or prepared, and consumed, in that accommodation or associated premises; or

(ii) provided in a hotel, guest house, lodging house or similar establishment,

—but does not include accommodation which is provided in a care home, an independent hospital or a hostel;

(b) Accommodation which the authority or registered housing association holds on a lease and, in the case of an authority in England, is held outside the Housing Revenue Account on a lease granted for a term not exceeding 10 years;

25 Feb 2013 : Column 341W

(c) Accommodation which the authority or registered housing association has a right to use under an agreement other than a lease with a third party.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons residential properties owned by local authorities for temporary accommodation are not included in the definition of temporary accommodation in the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012. [143766]

Steve Webb: In framing these regulations (the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012, SI 2102/3040) Ministers decided that it would be contrary to the purpose of the regulations to exclude from their effect accommodation which local authorities provided from their own stock when discharging their functions under part 3 of the Housing Act 1985, part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 or (in Scotland) part 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 or to prevent the claimant being or becoming homeless within the meaning of part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 or (in Scotland) part 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the ability of the private rental market to accommodate those who leave the social rented sector due to an inability to meet increased costs as a consequence of the under-occupancy penalty in (a) the UK, (b) Hull and (c) Kingston upon Hull North constituency. [144536]

Steve Webb: The information is not available. Claimants affected have a range of possible responses open to them, including finding work, taking in a lodger or moving within the social sector. It is not yet known how individuals will respond. The Department is commissioning an independent evaluation of these reforms, which will examine the effects on and responses by social tenants, including moves.

The private rented sector continues to accommodate housing benefit claimants. Since March 2011, the number of Housing Benefit claimants living in the private rented sector has increased by 7%.

ICT

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) start date, (b) original planned completion date, (c) current expected completion date, (d) planned cost and (e) current estimated cost is for each information technology project over £1 million started by his Department and its agencies since 2010; and if he will make a statement. [142951]

Mr Hoban: Although the DWP does not have any discrete information technology (IT) projects, it has a number of projects and programmes that include changes to, or new enabling IT to a greater or lesser extent. The DWP's definition of an IT enabled project is “any project where the IT costs exceed 15% of the total project cost”.

There are 34 projects in scope for answer of this question, based upon a £1 million investment cost. All information required for all 34 projects is not held

25 Feb 2013 : Column 342W

centrally by one team. The information would need to be gathered from a variety of sources. We are therefore unable to provide a full answer due to disproportionate costs.

Incapacity Benefit

Jonathan Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support Jobcentre Plus provides for claimants of incapacity benefit whose claims are being reassessed. [142971]

Mr Hoban: Jobcentre Plus delivers back to work support to claimants across all working age benefits. Jobcentre Plus advisers are able to offer claimants a comprehensive menu of help which can include skills provision, job search support and access to the flexible support fund. Advisers work with each claimant to judge which interventions will help them move into employment at the most appropriate point in a claim, tailoring this to individual need.

Incapacity benefit claimants awaiting reassessment have access to the help and support available through Jobcentre Plus on a voluntary basis and as such will not be subject to any mandatory conditionality, work related activity, or benefit sanctions for non-compliance. In England, incapacity benefit claimants can also volunteer to access the Work programme on a voluntary basis before their work capability assessment, using ESF funding.

Once incapacity benefit claimants have undergone reassessment, they will move onto the appropriate benefit and be subject to the conditionality and provision appropriate for that benefit.

Ingeus

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what payment his Department provides to Ingeus for each successful job outcome under the Work programme. [145025]

Mr Hoban: The fee structure for the Work programme is available on the DWP website at:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/the-work-programme.pdf

(figure 3 on page 7). This document also explains minimum and incentive performance levels for the Work programme.

Jobseeker's Allowance: Young People

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the weekly cost to the Exchequer was of jobseeker's allowance paid to people aged 16 to 24 in each year since 2002-03; and what the amount was for payments made for residents of Liverpool, Walton constituency. [143621]

Mr Hoban: The information requested is in the following table.

Nominal £ million
 Average weekly JSA (aged 16-24) paid in Great BritainAverage weekly JSA (aged 16-24) paid in Liverpool, Walton

2002-03

10.46

0.04

2003-04

10.75

0.04

2004-05

10.05

0.04

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2005-06

11.86

0.05

2006-07

12.36

0.05

2007-08

11.28

0.05

2008-09

14.49

0.05

2009-10

22.73

0.07

2010-11

20.53

0.07

2011-12

23.87

0.08

Notes: 1. The expenditure by benefit can be found in the expenditure by parliamentary constituency table published here: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/pc_expenditure.xls 2. Where expenditure is compared across time, real term figures are a better guide to trends in spending. Source: DWP Statistical and Accounting Data

Means-tested Benefits

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what cash and non-cash means-tested benefits are provided by his Department; what the rules are in respect of means-testing for each such benefit; and how much his Department spent on each in 2011-12. [144160]

Mr Hoban: Means-tested benefits provided by the Department for Work and Pensions include income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support and pension credit. Housing benefit and council tax benefit are administered by local authorities.

The eligibility rules for each of the above benefits can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/

The benefit expenditure for 2011-12 for each of the above benefits can be found at:

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

New Enterprise Allowance: Disability

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 13 February 2013, Official Report, column 713W, on new enterprise allowance: disability, how many disabled people securing new enterprise allowance mentor starts between April 2011 and May 2012 had stopped claiming jobseeker's allowance by the most recent date for which data is available. [144669]

Mr Hoban: We have published data on the number of new enterprise allowance mentor starts and weekly allowance starts. This can be found at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/pwp/pwp_gbw_feb13.pdf

Table 2 shows there were 6,100 mentor starts and 2,840 weekly allowance starts for disabled people for the period April 2011 to November 2012. To be eligible for the weekly allowance claimants must have signed off jobseekers allowance.

We do not have data for the number of people who stopped claiming jobseeker's allowance following a mentor start.

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New Enterprise Allowance: Kingston Upon Hull

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Hull and (b) Kingston upon Hull North constituency are in receipt of the new enterprise allowance. [144600]

Mr Hoban: We have published data on the number of new enterprise allowance (NEA) mentor starts and weekly allowance starts by local authority and parliamentary constituency area. This can be found in the following table:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2013/nea_by_la_jcp_district_parl_c.xls

In the local authority of Kingston upon Hull, there were 370 mentor starts and 130 weekly allowance starts over the period April 2011 to November 2012.

In the parliamentary constituency of Kingston upon Hull North, there were 140 mentor starts and 50 weekly allowance starts over the period April 2011 to November 2012.

The numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Pay

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cleaners and other staff employed by his Department earn less than the living wage. [143644]

Mr Hoban: In 1998 the Department entered into a 20-year PFI contract with Telereal Trillium for the provision of fully serviced accommodation which includes cleaning services. The Department does not therefore directly employ any cleaners.

The Department for Work and Pensions has no employees who earn less than the living wage.

Pension Credit

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the savings to the public purse following the abolition of savings credit in each of the five financial years after 2017. [143731]

Steve Webb: The information is in the following table. These estimates are the savings from this component of reform viewed in isolation from other changes.

The single-tier pension will be set at a rate that is above the basic level of means-tested support. As a result there will no longer be a need for a complex savings reward under single-tier. Removing savings credit will simplify means-tested support and help to ensure pension credit is re-focused on providing a safety net targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable.

Estimated savings to the public purse from the abolition of savings credit after the introduction of single-tier
Financial yearReduction in expenditure on pensioner benefits (%)

2017

0.0001

2018

0.0002

2019

0.0003

2020

0.0006

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2021

0.0007

Note: Numbers rounded to 0.0001% and are illustrative and subject to change; for example, due to revised economic assumptions or a later start date for the policy. Source: DWP Long-term projections of expenditure and Pensim2 Modelling.

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that pensioners who are entitled to pension credit are encouraged to claim it. [144257]

Steve Webb: The Government are committed to ensuring pensioners receive the support they are entitled to.

The latest estimates of take-up of all income-related benefits in 2009-10 were published in February 2012. The take-up report is available online at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/income_analysis/feb2012/tkup_full_report_0910.pdf

The Department for Work and Pensions makes information available in various locations (for example, our website at www.gov.uk, and leaflets available from our DWP Information Line on 0845 7313233) to ensure that people are aware of the benefits to which they may be entitled and how to claim them. In addition, the Department is actively involved with around 4,000 local community partnerships across England, Scotland and Wales which provide a wide range of advice and support for pensioners.

The Department writes to people up to four months before they reach their state pension age explaining their options, including how to claim their state pension or how to defer receiving it until later. State pension can be claimed online, by phone, or by submitting a claim form. When a customer makes a claim to state pension or reports a change in their circumstances, a customer adviser will also discuss a pension credit application with those who may be entitled. There is also a visiting service available to support vulnerable customers who are unable to access its services through other channels, such as telephony, post or online.

Pensioners can, where eligible, claim housing benefit and council tax benefit alongside pension credit in a single phone call, without the need for a signed claim form. Calls to the 0800 claims number from a BT landline or from the six largest mobile phone networks are free.

Further information on benefits is also available on the Department's website:

https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits

Pensioners: Social Security Benefits

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average total income provided by the Government to pensioners was in each of the last 10 financial years. [143595]

Steve Webb: The information requested is available at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=pensioners_income_arc#PI_Latest

25 Feb 2013 : Column 346W

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the number of pensioners who will receive means-tested benefits under the new single-tier state pension in each of the next 10 financial years from 2017. [143596]

Steve Webb: The following table presents estimates of the proportion of pensioner households projected to be in receipt of means-tested benefits from 2017-18 through to 2026-27.

 Pensioner households in receipt of means-tested benefits from 2017-18 (percentage)

2017-18

32

2018-19

32

2019-20

31

2020-21

30

2021-22

30

2022-23

29

2023-24

29

2024-25

28

2025-26

28

2026-27

27

Source: DWP Pensim2 modelling

Means-tested benefits include pension credit, housing benefit, localised council tax support and universal credit.

Estimated entitlement and receipt under the proposed single-tier pension are based on the illustrative assumptions used in the White Paper and accompanying impact assessment. The single-tier pension will be implemented in April 2017 at the earliest.

Pensions: Scotland

Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the projected value in each year from 2015-16 to 2019-20 of employer national insurance contribution revenues, channelled to HM Treasury from businesses and public sector cost centres based in Scotland, and associated with the ending of contracting out as part of the introduction of the single-tier pension. [144619]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

There will be no additional national insurance revenues until the single-tier pension is implemented, in April 2017 at the earliest.

The impact assessment accompanying “The single-tier pension: a simple foundation for saving”, provides estimates of the total additional employer contributions across Great Britain. The impact assessment is available at:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/single-tier-pension-impact-assessment.pdf

Personal Independence Payment

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will begin to collect data on the (a) length of personal independence payment award and (b) condition of each recipient. [141852]

25 Feb 2013 : Column 347W

Esther McVey: The Department published its outline evaluation proposals for personal independence payment on 13 December 2013, available from the DWP website:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/pip-evaluation-proposals.pdf

The proposals include secondary analysis of internal management information and administrative data which will include data on length of awards and disabling condition(s) for recipients of personal independence payment.

Stephen Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has carried out of the ability of deaf people to carry out daily living activities if they no longer receive funding for communication support to understand information conveyed in more than one sentence as defined by the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013. [142865]

Esther McVey: The Government are clear that support in personal independence payment should be focused on those people who face the greatest barriers to participating in society. We do this by considering an individual's ability to carry out 12 key everyday activities and what level of support they might need to do so. Ten of the activities in the assessment are focused on daily living and two on mobility.

The 10 daily living activities cover various aspects of daily life, including the ability to communicate. An individual who needs communication support to be able to understand complex verbal information may receive descriptor C in the communicating verbally activity, which has four points attached to it. While four points on its own is not enough to bring entitlement to the daily living component, individuals may also score points in other activities within the assessment, depending on their individual circumstances. Complex verbal information is defined as information conveyed in either more than one sentence or one complicated sentence.

Entitlement in personal independence payment is based on individual circumstances and the impact of the individual's health condition or impairment, which means we cannot generalise and predict where particular groups of claimants will score points. However, we believe that the assessment will be effective at targeting entitlement in the benefit on those who face the greatest barriers to living an independent life.

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will consider exempting dementia patients from the 28 day hospital rule for personal independence payments. [143735]

Esther McVey: All publicly funded hospital in-patients are subject to the hospital rules which see both components of personal independence payment suspended after 28 days in hospital. There are no plans to provide for any exemptions to these rules which are intended to prevent duplicate public funding to meet the same needs.

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on the manifestations and nature of dementia in relation to categorising patients for personal independence payments. [143736]

25 Feb 2013 : Column 348W

Esther McVey: Ministers and officials meet regularly with colleagues in the Department of Health to discuss welfare reform. No specific discussions have taken place with regard to dementia and personal independence payment.

Entitlement for personal independence payment is not based on having a particular health condition or impairment; rather it involves an assessment of individual need. The assessment considers the impact of the claimant’s health condition or impairment on their ability to carry out key everyday activities.

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether during the transfer period from disability living allowance to personal independence payments carers will have to make a fresh application for carers allowance once transferred to personal independence payments. [143737]

Mr Hoban: During the transfer period from disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP) carers, who care for a person on the qualifying rate of DLA who is awarded the daily living component of PIP, will not be expected to make a fresh application for carer’s allowance (CA). The daily living component of PIP will act as a gateway for CA for working age recipients from 2013 and DLA will remain a gateway for those who are not working age.

Public Appointments

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people he appointed to public bodies in (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12; (i) how many and (ii) what proportion of those appointees were (A) black or from an ethnic minority, (B) Hindu, (C) Muslim and (D) Chinese in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. [144117]

Mr Hoban: DWP made 21 ministerial public appointments in 2010-11. 24 ministerial public appointments were made in 2011-12. These figures include new appointments and reappointments.

The Commissioner for Public Appointments collates and publishes information on the number of appointments of candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds; however, this information is not broken down by ethnic group. Information regarding candidates' religion is not collected.

Copies of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 annual reports are available at:

http://publicappointmentscommissioner.independent.gov.uk

Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Redundancy: Health

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of redundancy on happiness and well-being levels of workers; and what discussions he has had with employers on how to lessen the effects of redundancy on workers' well-being. [142466]

Mr Hoban: We have not looked particularly at the impact of redundancy on happiness and well-being

25 Feb 2013 : Column 349W

levels of workers; or had discussions with employers on how to lessen the effects of redundancy on workers' well-being.

However we recently published the ‘National Study of Work-search and Wellbeing’, the first national study dedicated to examining the psychological health and well-being of jobseekers allowance (JSA) claimants, involving over 2,000 participants. It found that jobseekers have worse mental health and lower subjective well-being than the rest of the working age population on average. The study found that entering employment can support improvements in mental health.

Our National Employer Service Team manages redundancy situations involving national employers. We also have a Rapid Response Service Team in every Jobcentre Plus District to deal at a local level with employers facing redundancy situations.

25 Feb 2013 : Column 350W

Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what regulations his Department introduced between 1 June 2012 and 31 January 2013; and what estimate he has made of the likely cost of each such regulation. [142345]

Mr Hoban: 52 statutory instruments were made between 1 June 2012 and 31 January 2013. The following table lists the instruments, including regulations; along with details of impact assessments, where they have been produced, containing available information on costs. The instruments and any related impact assessments are available on legislation.gov.uk.

SI numberStatutory instrument (SI) title—including reference to impact assessment where availableDate of making

178

Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 7) Order

30 January 2013

105

Pension Protection Fund and Occupational Pension Schemes (Levy Ceiling and Compensation Cap) Order

21 January 2013

41

Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc.) (Amendment) Regulations

14 January 2013

3159

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

20 December 2012

3096

Employment and Support Allowance (Amendment) Regulations

13 December 2012

3090

Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 6 and Savings Provisions) Order

12 December 2012

3083

Pension Protection Fund (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Regulations

11 December2012

3048

Disabled People's Right to Control (Pilot Scheme) (England) (Amendment) Regulations

6 December 2012

3042

Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (Commencement No. 10 and Transitional Provisions) Order

5 December 2012

3040

Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/3040/pdfs/uksifia_20123040_en.pdf

3 December 2012

3002

Child Support Management of Payments and Arrears (Amendment) Regulations

28 November 2012

2994

Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2994/pdfs/uksifia_20122994_en.pdf

29 November 2012

2952

Occupational Pensions (Revaluation) Order

26 November 2012

2946

Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 5) Order

24 November 2012

2812

Industrial Injuries Benefit (Injuries arising before 5th July 1948) (Amendment) Regulations

8 November 2012

2785

Child Support (Meaning of Child and New Calculation Rules) (Consequential and Miscellaneous Amendment) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2785/pdfs/uksifia_20122785_en.pdf

2 November 2012

2756

Employment and Support Allowance (Sanctions) (Amendment) Regulations

2 November 2012

2743

Industrial Injuries Benefit (Injuries arising before 5th July 1948) Regulations

1 November 2012

2691

Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations

25 October 2012

2680

Social Security (Credits) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations

25 October 2012

2678

Child Support Maintenance (Changes to Basic Rate Calculation and Minimum Amount of Liability) Regulations

23 October 2012

2677

Child Support Maintenance Calculation Regulations

20 October 2012

2587

Social Security (Habitual Residence) (Amendment) Regulations

11 October 2012

2575

Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Regulations

11 October 2012

2569

Jobseeker's Allowance (Members of the Forces) (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Regulations

10 October 2012

2568

Jobseeker's Allowance (Sanctions) (Amendment) Regulations

10 October 2012

2530

Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.4) Order

4 October 2012

2523

Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (Commencement No. 9) and the Welfare Reform Act 2009 (Commencement No. 9) Order

4 October 2012

2480

Pensions Act 2008 (Commencement No. 14 and Supplementary Provisions) Order http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2480/pdfs/uksifia_20122480_en.pdf

27 September 2012

2380

Child Support (Northern Ireland Reciprocal Arrangements) Amendment Regulations

17 September 2012

2379

Social Fund Cold Weather Payments (General) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations

17 September 2012

2280

Social Fund Cold Weather Payments (General) Amendment Regulations

5 September 2012

2007

Public Bodies (Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission: Abolition and Transfer of Functions) Order

31 July 2012

1990

Social Security (Civil Penalties) Regulations

25 July 2012

1817

Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Prescribed Bodies) Regulations

11 July 2012

1814

Social Fund Maternity Grant Amendment Regulations

11 July 2012

1813

Employers' Duties (Implementation) (Amendment) Regulationshttp://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1813/pdfs/uksifia_20121813_en.pdf

10 July 2012

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25 Feb 2013 : Column 352W

1811

Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) (Amendment) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1811/pdfs/uksifia_20121811_en.pdf

11 July 2012

1688

Pension Protection Fund (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1688/pdfs/uksifia_20121688_en.pdf

28 June 2012

1682

Pensions Act 2008 (Commencement No. 13) Order

28 June 2012

1681

Pensions Act 2011 (Commencement No. 3) Order

28 June 2012

1652

Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1652/pdfs/uksifia_20121652_en.pdf

25 June 2012

1651

Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 3, Savings Provision) Order

26 June 2012

1649

Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (Commencement No. 8) Order

25 June 2012

1634

Social Security (Industrial Injuries) (Prescribed Diseases) Amendment (No.2) Regulations

20 June 2012

1616

Jobseeker's Allowance (Members of the Reserve Forces) Regulations

20 June 2012

1604

Social Security (Notification of Deaths) Regulations

20 June 2012

1574

Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) (No.3) Order

18 June 2012

1537

Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Revocations) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1537/pdfs/uksifia_20121537_en.pdf

13 June 2012

1506

Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order

14 June 2012

1483

Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc.) Regulations

8 June 2012

1477

Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1477/pdfs/uksifia_20121477_en.pdf

8 June 2012

Revenue and Customs: Kingston Upon Hull

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff are currently employed at the Tax Credit Office in Hull; and what estimate he has made of the number of staff (a) retained at the site, (b) redeployed to other roles on-site and (c) made redundant with the roll-out of universal credit. [144540]

Mr Hoban: Tax credits are delivered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). HMRC does not have a tax credits office or any tax credits staff in Hull.

Revenue and Customs: Preston

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff are employed at the Tax Credit Office in Preston; and how many such staff will be (a) retained at the site, (b) redeployed and (c) made redundant with the roll-out of universal credit. [143643]

Mr Hoban: Tax credits are delivered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Sickness Absence

Mr Marcus Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many days of paid sickness leave per individual member of staff are authorised in his Department on an annual basis. [144492]

Mr Hoban: The average level of paid sickness per individual employee was 7.3 days per year at December 2012 reducing from a high of 11.1 days in March 2007.

DWP do not authorise any sickness absences, they are either self-certified or signed off by a GP. We accept their authorisation and deal with the absence via our policies.

Where an employee fails to notify the Department of their absence, action may be taken under the unauthorised absence procedures. This may result in the employee's pay being suspended and their employment terminated.

Mr Marcus Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to reduce sickness absence in his Department. [144506]

Mr Hoban: DWP has robust absence management policies, procedures and processes in place and has reduced sickness absence levels from a high of 11.1 days in March 2007 to 7.3 days in December 2012. The Department has a sickness absence target of 7.0 days to be achieved by April 2014 and will aim to meet it by:

Increasing employee awareness of the issue and raising awareness at senior management level;

Improving management understanding of the Department’s Attendance Management policy;

Ensuring compliance with the policy;

Continuously improving the policy to reflect best practice;

Ensuring quick decisions are taken on the basis of sound medical advice to end the contract of employment where there is no reasonable expectation of a return to work;

Improving management information;

Using occupational health creatively;

Embedding best practice by twinning the best and underperforming units;

Providing employees with access to a range of support services including employee counselling, physiotherapy and an online well-being programme; and

Introducing a new occupational sick pay policy for new employees where entitlement is earned over time.

Social Security Benefits

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2013, Official Report, column 457W, on social security benefits: hyperactivity, for what reason benefit advice is not provided in respect of specific medical conditions. [142627]

Mr Hoban: It would not be appropriate for DWP staff to provide benefits advice on specific medical conditions as they are not medically trained or qualified to do so.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support his Department is providing to local authorities not included in the

25 Feb 2013 : Column 353W

benefit cap pilot but which have responsibility for displaced persons moving into addresses outside the pilot boroughs. [143655]

Mr Hoban: Jobcentre Plus is working closely with all local authorities to ensure that households impacted by the cap are given help to move into work; access to child care provision; money and budgetary advice; housing options advice and support to negotiate rent reductions with private landlords.

This includes help for people moving into more affordable addresses outside the phased rollout boroughs. We have provided local authorities with an additional £65 million in 2013-14 to support those affected by the benefit cap.

Social Security Benefits: Motor Neurone Disease

Gavin Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people with motor neurone disease (MND) are in receipt of (a) disability living allowance (DLA) and (b) attendance allowance (AA); how many people with MND successfully claimed DLA and AA via (i) special rules and (ii) ordinary rules in each of the last five years; and how many people with MND were found not to be eligible for an award under special rules for each benefit in each of the last five years. [143092]

Esther McVey: The information is shown in the following tables.

Disability living allowance (DLA) recipients with a main disabling condition of motor neurone disease
As at February each yearTotal in paymentOf which: are in payment under special rules conditions

2012

2,800

600

2011

2,700

500

2010

2,400

500

2009

2,300

300

2008

2,000

200

Attendance allowance (AA) recipients with a main disabling condition of motor neurone disease
As at February each yearTotal in paymentOf which: are in payment under special rules conditions

2012

900

(1)

2011

900

(1)

2010

800

(1)

2009

800

(1)

2008

700

(1)

(1) Denotes nil or negligible. Notes: 1. Figures are taken from 5% sample data. They have been uprated to be consistent with WPLS data and are rounded to the nearest 100. 2. Figures of 500 or less are subject to a degree of sampling variation and therefore should be used as a guide only to the correct situation. 3. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and excludes cases where the payment has been suspended e.g. if they are in hospital. 4. All recipients considered under special rules are entitled to the higher rate care component. 5. A diagnosed medical condition does not mean that someone is automatically entitled to DLA. Entitlement is dependent on an assessment of how much help someone needs with personal care and/or mobility because of their disability. 6. These statistics are only collected for administrative purposes. Source: DWP Information, Governance and Security Directorate, 5% sample.

Data on unsuccessful claims to DLA and AA, by main disabling condition or special rules criteria, are not routinely collected by the Department for Work and Pensions and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.