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Estimates of the number of families receiving working tax credit by parliamentary constituency and local authority are available in the HMRC publications Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Finalised Annual Awards. Geographical Analyses for the years 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08. Figures for 2003-04 are only available at disproportionate cost.

These publications are available on the HMRC website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-stats.htm.

Child Maintenance

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The child maintenance options service offers impartial and confidential information and support about child maintenance. A customer is under no obligation to supply the service with any personal information and can choose to remain anonymous. Therefore there are no figures available for the number of individuals who have used the service.

Information is available on the number of contacts made through the various media that a customer can use to access the service. This information is presented in the table below and shows activity broken down each month in the quarter year ending September 2009.

July 2009August 2009September 2009

Number of successful contacts on outbound calls

15,600

13,000

14,200

Number of inbound calls

11,300

8,400

13,300

Unique visitors to the Options website

61,100

50,800

72,300

Emails received

700

600

700

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The operational improvement plan (OIP) was a high-profile programme of activities designed to drive much needed improvement in services to clients, productivity and efficiency, and to contribute towards public service agreement targets. Progress was kept under constant review during the three years of the plan, with high levels of executive scrutiny, initially by the CSA chief executive, later commissioner, and his executive team and the non-executive directors who attended the OIP programme board.

The Child Support Agency report on handover to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, published in December 2008, noted that the operational improvement plan was acknowledged to have driven up performance and made the CSA a more businesslike organisation. The commission continues to act upon the findings of the handover report.

The performance of the Child Support Agency was made public throughout the duration of the OIP through the agency's quarterly summary of statistics. Between March 2006 and March 2009 the numbers of children benefiting increased from 623,000 to 780,500 and the amount of maintenance collected increased from £836 million in the year to March 2006 to £1,132 million in the year to March 2009. There were also improvements to the speed with which telephone inquiries were answered and the quality of the service provided.

Child Poverty

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government's priority in the current economic climate is to support all families through the economic downturn and to protect jobs. Since the start of the downturn, the Government have invested around £5 billion to provide real help to people suffering the effects of unemployment, including an extra £3 billion to Jobcentre Plus to provide personal help and advice to everyone who needs it. The Government remain convinced that parental employment is the most sustainable route out of poverty for children.

The Government are committed to the eradication of child poverty and have introduced the Child Poverty Bill into Parliament. By entrenching this ambitious goal in law the Government are ensuring that eradicating child poverty is a priority for every future Government and a shared mission for our society. The Bill will require the Government to publish a child poverty strategy, to be refreshed every three years, evaluating progress towards the 2020 vision and setting milestones

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for further action across a wide range of policy areas. One of the strands of the strategy will focus on employment and skills, and another strand will focus on the financial support that is available to families.

Child Support Agency

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The information requested is provided in the table below which shows a breakdown over the past three years of the number of complaints received, the caseload and complaints received as a percentage of the caseload.

Information is not held on the average time taken to resolve investigations into complaints. Information is recorded on complaints which have been fully resolved or where a resolution plan has been put in place within 15 working days of receipt. This information is included in the table.

Year toComplaints ReceivedCaseloadComplaints received as a percentage of the caseloadComplaints fully resolved and/or resolution plan agreed within 15 working days

Sep-07

43,690

1,411,300

3.1%

91.1%

Sep-08

29,720

1,359,700

2.2%

96.1%

Sep-09

26,550

1,261,900

2.1%

97.9%

Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead):The Governance of Britain-Constitutional Renewal White Paper, published in March 2008, made clear that the Government would introduce comprehensive legislation on the procedures

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for issuing passports. There has been no change in this commitment and, while no precise timetable has been set, it is intended that legislation will be published for consultation during the next Parliament.

Courts: Family Cases

Question

Asked by Lord Rooker

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The media are only able to access written evidence in family proceedings following an application procedure and with the express consent of the court. Additionally, the courts have been given a discretionary power to exclude the media from proceedings where necessary. We would expect professionals to use their judgment about the most effective and appropriate way to inform children of sufficient age and understanding on the use to which the information will be put and who is likely to come into contact with this information.

Courts: Fees

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The decision on whether to award costs is a matter for the judge, which may be appealed to the High Court. I have asked my officials to consider the wording on form 4 and the associated guidance.

Cyprus: Property

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Government have made no such assessment.



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Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills: Consultants

Question

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): I will write to the noble Baroness and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Education: Special Educational Needs

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Young people with a statement of special educational needs (SEN) also have a transition plan from age 14 to help them make the transition from school to further studies and adult life. The local authority Connexions service is responsible for arranging assessments of all young people with SEN who are in their last year of compulsory schooling and who are planning to go into further education or training.

Provision in tertiary education in the further education (FE) system for children and adults with SEN is based on assessed need. There are discrete courses for those with complex and profound disabilities, sometimes in a residential setting, while FE providers are able to offer places on mainstream courses as part of inclusion policies, having made reasonable adjustments to enable access.

Provision for adults will range from introductory courses on a part-time basis to full-time vocational courses.

From April 2010, foundation learning will be offered, which accredits all learning undertaken and enables learners to study at their own pace.

Foundation learning will cover all provision at level 1 and pre-entry and will provide structured pathways to employment wherever this is appropriate and improve learning outcomes generally.

More broadly, the Government help remove the barriers which prevent disabled students from entering and completing higher education by providing substantial financial help through the disabled students' allowances.



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Elections: Armed Forces

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): At present, under Section 91 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, at general elections any candidate is entitled to send, free of charge for delivery, either to each elector, or to each address in the constituency, one piece of election material. At present, this provision enables communications to be sent to electors in UK constituencies and therefore only applies to communications that are sent to addresses within the UK. Consequently, any change to these provisions to provide for election material to be sent to electors overseas would require amendment to primary legislation.

There will be many candidates contesting 650 constituencies at the next general election. Many of those candidates will send an electoral communication. The delivery of this material may not take place until the election is called and the candidates known. Conveying this volume of printed material in such a short timescale would place a significant burden on the transport systems from the UK to those personnel serving overseas. Therefore, extending the provisions under Section 91 of the RPA 1983 may therefore not necessarily be the most effective way for political parties to communicate with service personnel.

However, the noble Lord raises an important issue. Service personnel must have the opportunity to participate fully in our democratic processes. My right honourable friend Michael Wills recently met armed forces families' representatives to discuss arrangements for service voters and has written to invite all MPs to meet him and give their views on improvements to service voting arrangements, and this important issue will be considered as part of that process.

EU: Budget

Questions

Asked by Baroness Noakes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government's latest figures for the amount or estimated amount of the UK's net contribution to the European Community budget for the years 2003-04 to 2010-11 were published in table 3.2 of the European Community Finances White Paper of July 2009 (Cm 7640), page 25.



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