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6 Jan 2010 : Column WA91



6 Jan 2010 : Column WA91

Written Answers

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Air Quality

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The Commission decision of 11 December makes clear that further information is needed to demonstrate that compliance with the daily limit values would be achieved in London by 2011. However the decision recognised that additional time to meet the limit values in seven other parts of the UK, and the annual limit value in London was no longer required as those limit values had now been met.

We are working with the Mayor of London and Greater London Authority with a view to presenting as soon as practicable evidence which will satisfy the Commission that the limit values in London will be met by 2011.

Armed Forces: Dogs

Question

Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): In our operations in Afghanistan since 2001, one military working dog has been killed in action. None has gone missing.

Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: In our operations in Iraq since 2003, one military working dog has died as a result of an accident while carrying out search operations. None has gone missing.

Autism

Question

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever



6 Jan 2010 : Column WA92

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Following the recent consultation exercise on the Autism Bill, the Department for Work and Pensions is working closely with the Department of Health and others on the planned autism strategy.

Jobcentre Plus is committed to supporting disabled people, including people with autism. There are a number of learning products currently available to frontline staff, with signposts to sources of specialist help such as disability employment advisers. Jobcentre Plus staff have also been encouraged to access telephone tutorials on autism, led by the Employers Forum on Disability.

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Department for Work and Pensions is represented on the Department of Health-led steering group, working with the National Autistic Society, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and other organisations following the recent consultation A better future: a consultation on a future strategy for adults with autistic spectrum conditions and the Public Accounts Committee report, published on 15 October 2009 Supporting people with autism through adulthood. A formal response to the consultation is expected to be published early next year.

Work Preparation and WORKSTEP can support disabled people thinking about entering work by helping them gain work experience, and where possible, progress into paid employment. This provision continues to be available for people with autism.

From 6 April 2009, customers starting a work trial became eligible to apply for Access to Work support. Work trials are used to establish an individual's suitability for a particular job vacancy by giving them an opportunity to try the job. Work trials can last between one day and six weeks.

Pathways to Work is a pan-disability programme, available for recipients of employment and support allowance, offering flexible support according to the needs of the individual. This could include a work placement where this is thought to be beneficial.

There is support available for all young people through all stages of a jobseeker's allowance claim, including a guaranteed job offer and meaningful activity (work experience), before they reach the 12 month stage of their claim. From January 2010 the guaranteed offer will come at the six month stage and by the 10 month stage it is expected that an offer would have been accepted. This will be a mandatory requirement from April 2010.

In 2008 the Department for Children, Schools and Families funded the establishment of the Autism Education Trust, which works closely with the department to improve outcomes for those with autism. The department recognises that high quality-work experience can make a real difference to aspirations.



6 Jan 2010 : Column WA93

In January 2010 the work experience placement element of Backing Young Britain goes live, offering young jobseeker's allowance claimants aged between 18 and 21 a short-term work experience placement.

Care Services

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

Baroness Thornton: In 2008, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) reviewed the eligibility for social care. In their review Cutting the cake fairly, they asked people what needed to be changed about the Fair Access to Care Service (FACS) guidance which was launched by the department in 2003. The findings in paragraph 3.62 of the commission's review show that the top proposal for improving FACS was "More consistent implementation". A copy of the document has been placed in the Library.

As a result of the CSCI report, the department is revising the FACS guidance. A consultation ended on 6 October 2009. The intention is to bring forward revised guidance in the new year and a set of training materials that will help councils apply the criteria more consistently.

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

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 part played by IT systems in the difficulties experienced by the CSA is well documented. The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is currently undertaking a major programme which includes the development and deployment of new information technology and systems. The new IT systems are intended to provide significant improvements in efficiency and in client experience, overcoming the shortcomings of the existing systems.

The strategy for these new systems was based upon some initial feasibility work and upon the proposals of Tata Consulting Services (TCS), which was appointed in March 2009 to design and build these systems. Rather than build bespoke applications, the commission's

6 Jan 2010 : Column WA94

IT strategy is based on commercial off-the-shelf packages, which are widely used in banking and other industries, which it is configuring and integrating. This will ensure that it maximises the re-use of existing and proven functionality while ensuring that it meets specific needs.

Given that the commission has selected to adhere to the hosting, network, desktop, application maintenance and service integration strategies of the Department for Work and Pensions, relevant parts of its IT strategy were discussed with the department. In addition, the commission's future systems programme has been reviewed by the Office of Government Commerce and the department's Risk Assurance Division. The commission has also discussed its IT strategy with other government departments in the context of its plans to interface with their data and systems.

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission currently expects to capitalise around £8 million of its forecast expenditure, based on current plans, on the IT systems supporting the new child maintenance scheme in the three-year period from 2010-11 to 2012-13 inclusive. Of the £8 million, £6.7 million is expected to be capitalised in 2010-11 with the remaining £1.3 million to be capitalised in 2011-12.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): As was done for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and in accordance with the Ponsonby rule, any treaty signed at the Copenhagen climate change conference or any subsequent meeting of parties to the conference will be laid before Parliament for 21 sitting days before ratification.

Council Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay



6 Jan 2010 : Column WA95

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): We estimate that the average change in income by income decile of all UK households as a result of holding 2008-09 rates of council tax constant in cash terms in 2009-10 would be as shown in the table below.

Income decileAverage change for those effected (£ per year)

Bottom

+35

2nd

+35

3rd

+35

4th

+35

5th

+35

6th

+40

7th

+35

8th

+40

9th

+40

Top

+45

These estimates have been calculated from HM Treasury's tax and benefit static micro-simulation model using Family Resources Survey 2007-08 data uprated to 2009-10 levels of prices and earnings. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £5.

Counterterrorism

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

Baroness Crawley: The Whitehall Streetscape Improvement project in its entirety is designed to provide physical protection to establishments considered to be at increased risk of attack, particularly from the threat of terrorism.

The original published estimated cost for delivery of the core scheme of the Whitehall Streetscape Improvement Project is £25 million; this figure consisted of:

initial payments covering all stages of project design and the required local authority planning application and listed building consents; andstaged grant payments to Westminster City Council for phased delivery of the project.

An additional sum of £5,500,000 was made available from Home Office CONTEST funds and paid as staged grant payments to Westminster City Council to deliver additional physical security measures previously unaffordable under the original core scheme.

The project remains on target to be delivered within the grant that has been paid and by the completion date of December 2010 and that disaggregation is not possible.



6 Jan 2010 : Column WA96

Cyprus

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): On 10 November 2009 the Government made an offer to the UN Good Offices Mission to cede 45 square miles, almost 50 per cent, of its sovereign base area land to a unified Cyprus. This offer would come into effect in the event of a solution, and it would be up to the two leaders to negotiate what happens to this land.

The land transfer would have no adverse impact on the functioning of the sovereign base areas.

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: The Government will be happy to discuss the issue of guarantees at the appropriate stage of the negotiations. We do not envisage being an obstacle to a solution proposed by the two leaders.

Employment: Discrimination

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): There is an understanding between the European Commission and member states that a reasoned opinion in infraction proceedings remains confidential. The Commission publishes the fact that a reasoned opinion has been sent, but not the letter itself. The Government will therefore not be placing in the Library of the House the reasoned opinion which the Commission sent to us on 20 November 2009.

Energy: Nuclear Power Stations

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): None.



6 Jan 2010 : Column WA97

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): This information is not releasable for national security reasons.


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