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Written Statements

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Children: ContactPoint


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 26 January, I announced to the House the first steps to deploy the Government’s online directory—ContactPoint. I can today provide an update on progress in delivering ContactPoint, and outline the next steps.

ContactPoint has been developed in response to a key recommendation of Lord Laming’s inquiry into the tragic death of Victoria Climbié and is a vital tool designed to help keep children safe. In order to protect children it is crucial to ensure that the right agencies are involved at the right time and to improve the sharing of information between practitioners. ContactPoint will also help practitioners to improve outcomes for all children. It is a tool for practitioners to support better communication among practitioners working with children and young people across education, health, social care and youth offending services in the statutory and voluntary sectors. It will provide a quick way for those practitioners to find out who else is working with the same child or young person and ensure their best interests are promoted.

Under current arrangements, if a practitioner believes that a child is at risk or may need additional support, for example if they have a disability, they may have no way of knowing whether other services have been, or are already in contact with that child. In addressing these issues, the Government estimate that ContactPoint, when fully operational, can save at least 5 million hours of professionals’ time, currently spent trying to track down who else, if anyone, is helping the child. Supporting professionals in this way is an important element of the plan of action I announced last week in response to Lord Laming’s report on child protection. Lord Laming said in that report, “the new ContactPoint system will have particular advantages in reducing the possibility of children for whom there are concerns going unnoticed”.

Since January, important progress has been made. Seventeen early adopter local authorities in the north-west of England, along with leading national charities, Barnardo’s and KIDS, now have trained management teams in preparation for practitioners to start to use the system. At the same time, as part of the extensive ContactPoint security arrangements, local authorities have shielded the records of children who are potentially at greater risk if their whereabouts were to become known, to provide an additional layer of security, (for example, if a child is fleeing domestic violence or is under witness protection, or in some cases where children have been adopted). Approximately 52,000 records have now been shielded on ContactPoint.

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Building on this work, we will continue to take an incremental and steady approach to delivery. We are now moving ahead with the second phase of delivery. From 18 May, and over a period of several weeks, ContactPoint early adopters will train around 800 practitioners to use ContactPoint. They have been hand-picked to ensure they reflect the broad range of professionals working for children’s services organisations who will use ContactPoint when the directory is fully rolled out. We will carefully monitor the activity of those practitioners considering what further improvements may be required in the light of their experience of using the system.

From June to August, we will train management teams in the other local authorities and national partners. This will allow them to prepare for deployment of ContactPoint more widely in due course.

Throughout this second phase, we will continue to evaluate the experience of early adopters. This will ensure that the deployment of ContactPoint continues to take account of the experience of new users in the next stages of delivery.

ContactPoint continues to be supported by major children’s organisations, such as NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action for Children and KIDS, teachers’ unions including NASUWT, as well as the Association of Chief Police Officers, the British Association of Social Workers, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Children’s Inter-Agency Group whose members include the LGA and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Department for Work and Pensions: Agency Targets and Business Plans


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today able to announce the annual performance targets for 2009-10 for the two executive agencies of the Department for Work and Pensions. The targets I have agreed are set out below.

Further information on the plans of Jobcentre Plus and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service in 2009-10 is contained in their individual business plans which have been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

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Jobcentre Plus
2009-10 Targets

Job Outcome Target (million points)

To achieve a total points score of 9 million based on our priority customer groups.

Interventions Delivery Target

To make sure that specified Jobcentre Plus labour market interventions take place within set timescales in 85% of cases checked.

Employer Engagement Target

At least 92% of employers placing their vacancies with Jobcentre plus will have a positive outcome.

Customer Service Target

To achieve an 86% customer service level in the delivery of the standards set out in the customer and employers charters.

Fraud and Error

To play a key role to prevent and detect overpayments and underpayments of benefit consistent with the department’s aspiration to reduce total overpaid expenditure across all benefits to 1.8% and underpaid expenditure to 0.7% by March 2011.

The target is supported by a suite of non-published measures of activities to pay our customers the right benefit at the right time.

Average Actual Clearance Times Target*

To process claims within specified average actual clearance times:

Jobseeker’s Allowance— 11.5 days

Income Support—10 days

Pension, Disability and Carers Service
2009-10 Targets

Benefit take-up

To deliver at least 255,000 successful new pension credit applications


Pension credit financial accuracy of new claims and changes of circumstance: 93% first half year; 94% second half year

State Pension financial accuracy of new claims and changes of circumstance: 98%

Financial accuracy for carers allowance: 98%

Accuracy of decisions for disability living allowance (DLA): 94%

Accuracy of decisions for attendance allowance (AA): 94%

New Claims Clearance Times

Clear new applications for pension credit (measured from date all evidence is received) within an average of 15 days

Clear 95% of new claims for state pension within 60 days

Clear new claims for disability living allowance within an average of 38 days

Clear new claims for attendance allowance within an average of 16 days

Clear new claims for carers allowance within an average of 13.5 days

Fraud and Error

Reduce the proportion of benefit overpaid due to fraud and error in pension credit to 4.5% by March 2011


At least 93% of calls to be answered by an advisor

Less than 1% of calls receiving an engaged/busy tone

EU: Competitiveness Council


The Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Davies of Abersoch): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Trade, Development and Consumer Affairs (Gareth Thomas) has today made the following Statement.

The following Statement provides information on the EU Informal Competitiveness Council which took place in Prague on 5 May 2009, at which my official Claire Durkin, director of Europe International Trade and Development, at BERR represented the UK.

The meeting started with the Commission presenting a paper on lessons learned from the 2004 EU enlargement and the future of the EU internal market. The Commission suggested that the priorities for improving the EU single market and responding to the economic crisis were services (implementation of the services directive), intellectual property (agreement on Community patent and a single patent court) and completing the

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interconnection of the EU's network industries (telecommunications, postal services, energy and transport sectors).

In discussion, member states agreed with these three priorities and that the single market was essential for EU economic recovery and growth. In addition, several member states highlighted the importance of avoiding protectionism and better implementation of single market legislation. All member states agreed that EU enlargement since 2004 had brought positive benefits to the EU. Member states suggested that future EU developments should be an increased focus on skills, innovation, the low-carbon economy, promoting EU standards externally, more cross-border internet sales, boosting consumer and social benefits, or delivering concrete achievements, such as a community patent.

The UK agreed with the forward looking suggestions by the Commission and other member states. We stressed the need for the EU to be at the high end of the value chain, noting in particular business opportunities in low carbon, digital and services. We also pointed out that the UK is the sixthlargest manufacturing country in the world and that we wanted the single market to work equally well for the manufacturing sector. In addition, we welcomed the Larosiere report on EU financial supervision and called for an integrated approach to better regulation and enforcement of EU single market rules.

The Commission also presented a paper on the EU better regulation programme and invited member states to share best practice from national programmes. Most member states were supportive of the EU action programme on administrative burden reductions. Several member states wanted the action programme to take account of new and amending regulations. Member states also wanted better impact assessments on Commission administrative burden reduction proposals. The UK representative stressed the need for cooperation and dialogue between member states on better regulation policies and for stronger EU impact assessments. We also suggested that the EU services directive should be an exemplar for EU legislation and that its implementation by the end of 2009 was important for EU's future competitiveness.

The UK strongly supported the Commission's proposal to allow member states the option to exempt micro-entities (companies with 10 or fewer employees and less than €1 million turnover) from the EU accounting directives, which would bring major cost savings for the EU's smallest businesses. Germany, Denmark and Romania also stated their support for the proposal.

Gypsies and Travellers


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Iain Wright) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government have today published the Count of Gypsy and Traveller Caravans on 19 January 2009.

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Copies have been placed in the Library of the House and can be accessed via the Communities and Local Government website at

Housing and Planning


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (Margaret Beckett)has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing the release of a consultation into proposed changes to the allocation mechanism for years 2 and 3 (2009-10 and 2010-11) of housing planning delivery grant (HPDG). HPDG was established in 2007 to reward local authorities for improved delivery of housing and other planning outcomes as part of their strategic, place-shaping role and to provide more support to communities and local councils who are actively seeking to deliver new homes. The decision to review the grant scheme follows our public commitment to monitor the grant in light of changes in economic circumstances.

Changes to the funding profile

The quantum of funding available for HPDG was set in a different economic context than where we are today. We remain committed to the short and long-term objective of increased housing supply and will continue to invest significant sums through HPDG for local authorities who deliver more homes, with funding doubling from £100 million in Year 1 to £200 million in Year 3. In addition, there will no longer be a capital element to the grant. However, current economic conditions have created new priorities both for Government and local authorities; we have therefore taken the decision to scale back the increase in HPDG and focus on delivering real help to the people who need it—and so have halved the rent increases facing council tenants this year.

Proposed changes to the allocation mechanism

We are also consulting on changes to the way the grant is allocated to ensure it recognises current challenges and encourages positive action by local authorities to facilitate recovery. Key reforms being proposed are:

to reduce the threshold of net additional homes needed to qualify for the housing element in year 3 in recognition of the more challenging conditions in the housing market;to introduce additional eligibility requirements for demonstrating land for housing in order to reinforce existing requirements in planning policy statement 3 and increase confidence in the land supply position across the county; and to increase the percentage of the planning element awarded for demonstrating land for housing in year 2 in recognition of the importance of land supply in supporting development.

We are also consulting on proposals for an additional HPDG element in year 3 specifically to incentivise the delivery of affordable housing.

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Meaningful community involvement is an integral part of the planning system. The White Paper Communities in Control: real people real power announced up to £4 million additional funding for local planning authorities to promote community participation in planning. This funding is in addition to HPDG; however we propose to use the HPDG mechanism to distribute this additional funding. The proposed allocation criteria would support those authorities whom we would expect to be undertaking significant community engagement work, either in developing their core strategy or delivering high levels of new housing, and who have already identified community empowerment as a priority for their overall performance.

A copy of the consultation document has been placed in the House Library and is available on the Communities and Local Government website at building/consultationdeliverygrant.

Housing: Enfranchisement


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Iain Wright) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today published a consultation paper that proposes the non-implementation and repeal of the right to enfranchise (RTE) provisions in the 2002 Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act (the 2002 Act).

The 2002 Act sought through the RTE provisions to prevent what was at that time acknowledged to be a fairly limited problem. This was qualifying leaseholders being deliberately excluded when fellow leaseholders exercised statutory rights to purchase the freehold of the building containing their flats (called collective enfranchisement). However it has become clear that implementation of the provisions would introduce a considerable amount of additional burdens, complexity and cost into the process.

The Government’s view is that this would be to the overall detriment of leaseholders in general who are benefiting from the changes that have been made by the 2002 Act and earlier legislation to remove unreasonable barriers to enfranchisement.

Leaseholders will in due course also benefit from the introduction of regulations on accounting for leaseholders monies which will complete the programme of reform introduced under the 2002 Act.

The consultation runs until 3 August 2009 and the Government would welcome responses to their proposals up until that date. Copies of the paper, A consultation paper on the right to enfranchise (RTE) provisions, have been placed in the Library of the House.

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