Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 12 March 2014, Official Report, column 220W, on bananas, what the evidential basis is for his statement that the grocery retail market is working well for UK consumers. [195378]

Jenny Willott: The most recent assessment by the Competition Commission of competition in the grocery retail sector (“The supply of groceries in the UK market investigation”, 2008) found that the sector generally worked well for UK consumers and that the main retailers were not exploiting dominant positions.

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If there is evidence of anti-competitive behaviour in the groceries retail sector, this should be sent to the Competition and Markets Authority.

Carbon Price Floor

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much has been disbursed in compensation for the carbon price floor in each month since April 2013. [195488]

Michael Fallon: The Government are waiting for state aid approval from the European Commission for the carbon price floor compensation scheme. We expect to get a final decision later this month and we are hopeful that we will be able to commence the scheme shortly thereafter.


Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much funding has been invested by the Green Investment Bank in the development of wood-based industries and technologies. [195346]

Michael Fallon: The Green Investment Bank (GIB) may invest only in specified green sectors. Its scope to finance projects involving wood based industries is limited to projects that use either waste wood recovered from landfill or wood pellets made from forestry management waste as biomass fuel to generate renewable energy. GIB has directly committed £12 million of debt finance to one project that uses waste wood to generate electricity and £100 million of finance towards the conversion of Drax power station to run partly on biomass fuel pellets rather than coal. In addition, the Bank has indirectly committed through its specialist fund managers £37 million of finance to projects that generate power from recovered waste wood and £21 million to projects that generate power from biomass pellets. Information about these and other GIB transactions to date can be found on the GIB website:

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much regional growth funding has been allocated to LEPs for wood-focused initiatives to create jobs in rural areas. [195352]

Michael Fallon: Agriculture is a restricted sector under State Aid rules, therefore regional growth funds cannot be allocated to Local Enterprise Partnerships for wood-focused initiatives.

UK Trade and Investment: Scotland

Margaret Curran: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what support the First Minister of Scotland has received from UK Trade & Investment ahead of his upcoming visit to the US. [195257]

Michael Fallon: UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in New York and San Francisco have worked closely with the First Minister's team in planning arrangements for his visit.

9 Apr 2014 : Column 295W

The Consul-General in New York hosted a lunch at his residence on 7 April 2014 in association with Scottish Development International (SDI) and Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) for the First Minister and 17 Scottish companies in the accompanying trade mission, to which key business figures in the US were invited.

On 8 April 2014 SDI and mission delegates attended a UKTI briefing discussion on marketing in the US. Mission companies will have access to meeting rooms for one-to-one meetings throughout the week, as well as UKTI staff who will be available to discuss business opportunities in the US market. UKTI staff are also supporting a number of events during the week, including the US office launch on 5 April 2014, of Scottish based Smarter Grid Solutions and other events where mission delegates will be present.

For the visit of the Scottish Government's External Affairs and International Development Minister, Huzma Yousaf, UKTI contributed to the guest list for Mr Yousaf s Scotland Week reception in San Francisco. UKTI also contributed to energy sector invitees for the World Trade Centre-Northern California breakfast event for the Minister, as requested by the World Trade Centre.

UK Trade and Investment: Turkey

Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many UK Trade & Investment staff were based in Turkey in (a) May 2010, (b) December 2013 and (c) March 2014. [194830]

Michael Fallon: In March 2014 there were 20 people working on trade and investment (18.9 full-time equivalent FTE) in Turkey. This figure was not materially different in either May 2010 or December 2013.

Work and Pensions

Children: Day Care

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to provide families with financial assistance in caring for a child; and if he will make a statement. [194887]

Mike Penning: The Department provides families with financial assistance in caring for a child through disability living allowance, carer's allowance and the disability and carer premiums in the income-related benefits.

Child Maintenance

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the progress of the Child Support Agency in restarting committal proceedings since the end of the moratorium. [195052]

Steve Webb: Following the initial review of its commitment to prison processes the Child Support Agency has continued to develop and evolve its processes

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and procedures, particularly in relation to the non-resident parent's ability to make payment.

As a result of increased focus on gaining payment compliance prior to considering commitment proceedings, the volume of commitment applications made remains lower than during the period preceding the moratorium.

The Agency is however continuing to make both new commitment applications and applications where the parent has defaulted on the terms of a commitment sentence where this seems the enforcement measure most likely to secure payment compliance.

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many cases the Child Support Agency has started committal proceedings in each of the last five years. [195053]

Steve Webb: Pursuant to my written answer on 20 January 2014, Official Report, columns 42-43W, information on the number of cases in which the Child Support Agency has started committal proceedings is only readily available from 2010. The following table shows the number of cases where committal proceedings were started for each of the last three complete financial years and the current year to date:

Financial yearCommittal proceedings started

April 2010 - March 2011


April 2011 - March 2012


April 2012 - March 2013


April 2013 - December 2013


Notes: 1. Following a Court Of Appeal decision in October 2012, a review of the commitment to prison process was carried out to ensure it complied with the terms of the judgement given in that case. Whilst doing so, applications for commitment to prison were not brought before the court. Procedures resumed from March 2013. 2. Data sourced from the Tallyman Informer system. 3. Data rounded to the nearest 10.

Housing Benefit

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much local authorities in (a) St Albans, (b) Hertfordshire, (c) the East of England and (d) the UK have returned to his Department in unused discretionary housing payment funding since 2011; and what steps he is taking to ensure that such funds are targeted towards those most in need. [195039]

Esther McVey: The Department has responsibility for the funding of discretionary housing payments (DHP) in Great Britain, but not the UK. The following table shows the amounts of unused DHPs returned to the Department since 2011 for the respective areas. The figures for 2013-14 will be available in due course once the information has been collated from local authorities.

Local authority areaUnder spend since 2011 (£)

St Albans




Eastern England


Great Britain


The Department provides local authorities with a guidance manual and good practice guide to aide them in the administration of the DHP scheme. This has

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recently been updated following informal consultation with stakeholder groups and local authority practitioners. The new guidance encourages councils to make longer term awards where appropriate to those with ongoing needs.

Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing

Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of children in poverty affected by the under-occupancy penalty since its introduction; and if he will make a statement. [195382]

Esther McVey: This information can be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

This Government has made good progress in tackling the root causes of child poverty and has recently published the 2014-17 draft child poverty strategy for consultation which outlines the actions we are taking. The latest figures from 2011-12 show that 2.3 million children (17%) are in relative income poverty-down 300,000 since 2009-10. These are the lowest levels since the mid-1980s. The number of children in workless households has fallen by more than 270,000 since 2010, which is key to driving down poverty.

Jobcentre Plus

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what disability awareness training is provided to disability employment advisers in Jobcentre Plus. [194922]

Esther McVey: DWP staff have access to the ‘Raising the Game on Disability’ Seminar, which builds disability knowledge and confidence in working with disabled people. The ‘Hidden Impairment Toolkit’ training provides practical advice and guidance on how best to support individuals, into employment. This approach enables the anticipation of reasonable adjustments at appropriate stages of the individual's journey to work.

For all disability employment advisers (DEA) additional learning appropriate to this specialist area has been designed in conjunction with DWP occupational psychologists to enable DEA's to provide effective support to people with particularly complex health-related needs.

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the extent of the availability of free telephones in jobcentres for jobseekers to contact officials within his Department. [195404]

Esther McVey: Jobcentres provide face to face support for claimants. There is also controlled access to telephones for claimants who need to contact officials in this Department over the phone.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Birkenhead, of 18 November 2013, Official Report, column 674W, on jobseeker's allowance, what assessment he has made of the (a) monitoring system which checks that sanctions by Jobcentre Plus staff are applied

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appropriately and


outcome of independent reviews undertaken into sites making exceptional numbers of referrals of clients to decision makers. [195147]

Esther McVey: It is for local and district management to ensure Jobcentre Plus staff apply labour market conditionality fairly and consistently, taking into account individual claimant circumstances; and to make sure referrals to decision makers are appropriate and of consistently good quality.

Independent reviews undertaken last year suggested that referral rates were appropriate. Findings from those reviews are fed back into operations to help inform ongoing monitoring and delivery.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what average time is taken to re-imburse a jobseeker's allowance claimant who has been wrongly sanctioned. [195341]

Esther McVey: We do not hold any information that just captures the average time it takes to reimburse a jobseeker's allowance claimant who has been wrongly sanctioned.

Once a decision is made that a sanction is no longer appropriate the decision maker notifies our JSA claims maintenance teams. They identify these decisions as priority work and endeavour to input the revised decision into our system and pay any benefit due as soon as possible. For JSA our aim is to clear 90% of changes in six days. Based on year to date information, up to February 2014, we are achieving 94.9% on JSA.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when his Department plans to publish revised statistics on the number of people who have successfully appealed a sanction decision. [195345]

Esther McVey: DWP statisticians identified an error in the JSA sanctions appeal outcomes data. In line with normal practice for official statistics the Department has withdrawn this particular set of information. The data will be made available again as soon as possible pending investigations by DWP statisticians who will, if necessary, make corrections to this data.

For further information see here:

Jobseekers Allowance: Rossendale

Jake Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people normally resident in Rossendale and Darwen constituency were prosecuted for offences relating to fraudulent claims for jobseeker's allowance in each of the last five years. [194836]

Esther McVey: The information requested is not readily available because the data are not collated in a format for Rossendale and Darwen constituency only. This information could only be provided by examining individual investigation files which would incur disproportionate cost.

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Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions why Remploy Employment Services is now called Remploy; and whether his Department will continue to fund employment services provided by Remploy. [194877]

Esther McVey: Remploy has formally always existed as a single company, Remploy Ltd. Remploy Ltd managed the operation of its business through two different arms: Remploy Enterprise Businesses, the factories, and Remploy Employment Services. Following the completion of Remploy's commercial process to exit its factory businesses it has decided that there is no longer a need to differentiate between the businesses, and it is now using Remploy only, as previously.

The Department agrees Remploy funding and performance targets, including Work Choice job outcome targets, on an annual basis. Remploy's performance targets for 2013-14 were published on 31 October 2013, Official Report, column 60WS, by written ministerial statement confirming publication of Remploy annual report and accounts 2013. Remploy performance targets and funding for 2014-15 will be published alongside the 2014 accounts later this year.

Social Security Benefits: Disability

Naomi Long: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will review his decision not to carry out a cumulative impact assessment on the effect of welfare reform on people with disability. [194889]

Mike Penning: The Government regularly produce analysis of the cumulative impact of all coalition changes, including welfare, on households across the income distribution. This information is produced by the Treasury and is published alongside every Budget and Autumn Statement, in the interests of transparency. The previous Government did not provide this type of analysis. The most recent update was published with the Budget on 19 March 2014, and can be found using the following link:

Distributional analysis is provided for the whole population on the basis of household income and household expenditure. However this is not disaggregated to the level of household characteristics such as disability status or lower level geographies. No organisation is able to do this robustly.

This analysis estimates the effect of coalition measures from all fiscal events from the Budget in June 2010 to the Budget in 2014. It also includes changes that were announced before the Budget in June 2010 that have been implemented by this Government. Current coalition

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policies are compared with what might have happened if the previous Government's policies had continued into the future without any further fiscal consolidation.

The Government currently have no plans to undertake a review or change the decision on cumulative impact assessments.

Social Security Benefits: Disqualification

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 25 March 2014, Official Report, column 986W, on social security benefits, what the total amount of benefit withheld as a result of sanctions was in each of the last two years. [195010]

Esther McVey: The Department does not estimate the amount of benefit withheld as a result of benefit sanctions. The sanctions regime is designed to ensure claimants comply with their requirements in order to move off benefits and into work.

The answer of 25 March 2013, Official Report, column 986W, on social security benefits, contained a calculation of the amount of jobseeker's allowance (JSA) that claimants would have received if they had continued to be on benefit for the length of a fixed sanction. This is not the same as the amount withheld as a result of sanctions.

As the previous answer made clear, it is not possible to robustly estimate the actual amounts withheld as we do not know what would have happened in the absence of sanctions. For example, of claimants who leave benefit during a sanction - some may have left irrespective of the sanction being applied, and some may have left because of the sanction. Furthermore, the previous calculation did not include sanctions for employment support allowance sanctions, income support for lone parents sanctions or JSA varied length sanctions and disentitlements as reliable data on the length of sanction or disentitlement is not readily available. Finally, the calculation did not net the figures for hardship payments.

Social Security Benefits: Young People

John Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2014, Official Report, columns 348-49W, on social security benefits: young people, if he will publish any information relevant to the original question that is available at proportionate cost. [194968]

Esther McVey: Information on jobseeker’s allowance severe hardship decisions for 16 and 17-year-olds is provided in the following tables but please be aware that it does not relate solely to estrangement. Information on income support and employment support allowance is not available. Similarly it is not possible to disaggregate appeals information on an age basis.

JSA 16/17-year-olds claims to severe hardship, 2013
 Apr 2013May 2013Jun 2013Jul 2013Aug 2013Sep 2013Oct 2013Nov 2013Dec 2013Jan 2014Feb 2014

JSA 16/17-year-old claims












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9 Apr 2014 : Column 302W

JSA 16/17-year-old severe hardship awarded












JSA 16/17-year-old severe hardship claims % awarded












JSA 16/17-year-old severe hardship refused












 Apr 2012May 2012Jun 2012July 2012Aug 2012Sep 2012Oct 2012Nov 2012Dec 2012Jan 2013Feb 2013Mar 2013

JSA 16/17-year-old claims













JSA 16/17-year-old severe hardship awarded













JSA 16/17-year-old severe hardship claims % awarded













JSA 16/17-year-old severe hardship refused













Source: Management Information System programme (MISP).

Universal Credit

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to implement a universal credit sanctions scheme to replace the current jobseeker's allowance and other sanctions scheme. [195032]

Esther McVey: In 2012 revised sanctions regimes introduced into jobseeker's allowance and employment and support allowance moved us towards the universal credit system, with the same value of sanction across all benefits and the same duration of sanctions at medium and high levels.

We continue to monitor sanctions closely and consider opportunities for continuous improvement.

Vacancies: Lancashire

Jake Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time employment vacancies were advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices in (i) Rossendale and (ii) Darwen in the latest period for which figures are available. [194839]

Esther McVey: We do not advertise in jobcentres, all vacancies are now advertised on Universal Jobmatch System, which was introduced in November 2012. The system does not provide data at jobcentre level, as all vacancies notified to the system are available to ail users.

Work Programme

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints have been made about the Work Programme on the grounds of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 since June 2011. [195342]

Esther McVey: The Department requires providers to work directly with individuals to resolve complaints about their service. Records of complaints received are retained by providers.

If the individual is unhappy with the response to their complaint from the provider they can take their complaint directly to the Independent Case Examiner's Service.