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16 Feb 2012 : Column WA173



16 Feb 2012 : Column WA173

Written Answers

Thursday 16 February 2012

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Newton of Braintree

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Child benefit is treated as being properly paid to the person who is entitled to it.

Child benefit is paid to the person who has responsibility for the child or young person and who meets the conditions of entitlement. This can be by having the child or young person living with them, or by contributing to the cost of providing for them by an amount equivalent to the weekly rate of child benefit.

Only one person can be in receipt of child benefit. If more than one person makes a claim for the same child, entitlement will be determined by the rules of priority set out in the legislation; for example the person with whom the child lives will have priority over someone who is contributing to the child's upkeep and a parent would have priority over a non-parent.

A person entitled to child benefit can choose to have their benefit paid into a bank account in their name, a joint account with their partner, or a person acting on their behalf. Whichever payment option is chosen, the benefit is treated as being properly paid to the person who is entitled to it.

For tax purposes, child benefit is not treated as income.

Disabled People: Grants

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The disabled facilities grant is a statutory entitlement administered by local housing authorities. This extra funding brings the total disabled facilities grant to £200 million for 2011-12. The funding is un-ring-fenced, which provides local authorities with greater freedom and flexibility in delivering adaptations and the ability to commission services more innovatively.



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Education: Three to Four Year-olds

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nye

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The National Audit Office (NAO) report on delivering the free entitlement to education for three and four year-olds noted that, nationally, take-up of the free entitlement is high at 95 per cent overall (93 per cent for three year-olds).

Take-up figures are derived from comparing the actual number of children accessing the free entitlement in each local authority area with Office for National Statistics estimates of the child population in each area. These estimates suggest that take-up of early education among three and four year-olds varies across local authorities. The NAO report states that this variation ranges from 77 per cent to 117 per cent of the eligible children in each area taking up their free entitlement. Children accessing the free entitlement are counted in the area where they attend nursery, rather than in the area they live. This means some local authorities achieve take-up rates of more than 100 per cent.

Reasons for this variability include: cross-border movements potentially influenced by parental employment arrangements and the location of childcare providers; parents opting out of free early education in more affluent areas; and changes in demographics since the 2001 population census.

National research, based on the annual childcare and early years survey of parents, shows that the 5 per cent of children not taking up free early education are disproportionately from multiply disadvantaged families.

We are taking a number of actions to increase take-up of early education by disadvantaged children.

The Government are committed to extending free early education to around 40 per cent of two year-olds from 2014, which we expect to lead to increased take-up of early education at age three. Sure Start children's centres, in particular, will have a key role to play in identifying and supporting disadvantaged children to access early education places.

New funding arrangements which we introduced from April 2010 required every local authority to include a mandatory deprivation supplement in their Early Years Single Funding Formula. The intention

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was to require local authorities to incentivise providers financially to engage more disadvantaged families and ensure that their children are able to access the free entitlement.

We have recently consulted on a more rigorous and consistent way of ensuring that only higher quality providers deliver free early education. The consultation proposed a new basket of quality measures that local authorities should use to determine which providers are eligible to deliver free early education places. This new basket of quality measures, and Ofsted's commitment to making inspection reports more accessible, should improve information for parents and help them to choose better quality early education provision for their children.

Staff qualifications and pedagogy are vital in improving the quality of all early years settings. The new early years foundation stage, to be introduced from September 2012, reflects the skills and teaching practices needed to raise the quality of early years provision and to support all children to be ready for school, particularly those who need the most help.

Family and Parenting Institute

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department has given a total of £9 million funding to the National Family and Parenting Institute in financial years 2010-11 and to date in 2011-12.

The funding provided was for the following activities:

grant funding of £1.2 million (2010-11). This was for research, design, test and promotion of family-friendly services throughout the sector; payments totalling £7.4 million (2010-11). In partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the National Family and Parenting Institute was contracted as managing body for the parenting fund. The objective of this fund was to increase the provision of parenting support services, particularly for less well served groups; to develop a strategic approach to the provision of parenting support services: and, in working closely with local projects, to help them secure their future sustainability. As well as grant administration, the institute also co-ordinated capacity building and infrastructure support for the projects;grant funding of £0.154 million (2011-12) awarded under the department's voluntary and community sector (VCS) grant. The grant paid was under theme 1: families and relationship support and is for a family-friendly scheme to support the institute in seeking to improve the outcomes for families, engage families,

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influence the shape of public services and develop the capacity of organisations working within families; and payments totalling £0.249 million (2010-11) for a study on provider influence on early home learning environment to identify what nurseries and other early years settings could do to support parents to develop their children's learning at home.

None of the activities listed above was regarded by the department as for lobbying purposes.

Freedom of Information

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The request of 30 March 2011 was answered on 3 May 2011, citing Section 43(2), and claiming more time under the Freedom of Information Act to assess the public interest factors associated with the information in question. A final reply was issued on 27 September 2011, setting out the Treasury's decision to uphold the exemption and refuse release. The internal review, which was sought at the end of October, has been completed today and a letter has been sent to the noble Lord.

Government Departments: Opinion Polls

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education has not carried out opinion polls in the past two years.

Government Departments: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested will form part of an urgent Treasury review of the tax arrangements of public sector appointments. The review will report to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury by the end of March 2012. The results of the review will be provided to the Public Accounts Committee, and placed in the House of Commons Library.

Gross Value Added

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Average gross value added per head in the United Kingdom, the English regions, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for 2010 is estimated by the Office for National Statistics as follows:

Per head (£)

United Kingdom

20,476

North-East

15,744

North-West

17,381

Yorkshire and The Humber

16,917

East Midlands

18,090

West Midlands

17,060

East of England

18,996

London

35,026

South-East

21,924

South-West

18,669

England

20,974

Wales

15,145

Scotland

20,220

Northern Ireland

15,651

Economic development policy is devolved. In England the Government are supporting regional growth by introducing 24 new enterprise zones where all business rates will be retained by local enterprise partnerships for re-investment; making 100 per cent capital allowances available in six enterprise zones; allocating £1.4 billion of investment through the regional growth fund (with a further £1 billion allocated by the Chancellor at the Autumn Statement); and providing £500 million to local enterprise partnerships through the growth places fund.

Following the local government resource review we are also working on introducing a business rates retention scheme, which would enable local authorities which succeed in growing their local economy to get a direct boost to their income.



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Health: Pain Management

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government will hold the National Health Service to account for improving patient outcomes as specified in the NHS outcomes framework. The second domain of the framework relates to improvements in the quality of life of people with long-term conditions such as chronic pain. Pain is one of the five dimensions of the overarching indicator used to assess improvements in this domain.

House of Lords: Waste Paper

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Paper is collected from offices using a two-bin system whereby dry recyclable materials such as paper and cardboard are collected separately from other general office waste. Dedicated paper and cardboard recycling bins are also available in photocopying areas throughout the House. It is not possible to estimate the proportion of Members and staff who use these facilities.

Where possible, paper that is mixed through with general office waste is segregated by the House's waste collection contractor. All paper and cardboard that can be segregated is recycled. Any paper that cannot be segregated is disposed of as general waste and is incinerated to generate energy. No paper or cardboard is sent to landfill.

Houses of Parliament: Recess Dates

Question

Asked by Lord Grocott



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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): No additional cost to the House of Lords Administration will arise from the difference in dates of the February Recess between the two Houses, under any of the four headings referred to.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Newton of Braintree

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department believes that the potential effect on the National Health Service of removing clinical negligence from the scope of legal aid will be cost-neutral.

Migrant Workers: Bulgarians and Romanians

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Self-employed persons with small earnings (less than £5,315 in the 2011-12 tax year) are eligible to apply for an exception from paying class 2 NICs. The small earnings exception (SEE) does not apply for tax purposes and whether tax is payable depends on there being business profits, or other income, which exceed the personal allowance.

Based on a 3 per cent sample of the national insurance and PAYE service computer system, HMRC estimates that there are approximately 500 Bulgarian and 1,300 Romanian nationals with SEE. As with UK nationals, when they first commence their business, a person is initially able to self-assess their anticipated earnings. Once the business is established, the claim to SEE may be the subject of risk-based checks, using accounts information supplied by the worker and sources of information available to HMRC, including the self assessment tax return.



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Housing benefit provides help with rental costs for people who are out of work or who are working but on low incomes. There are no employment or earnings criteria which prevent entitlement. A person can qualify for housing benefit if their income and capital are below a certain level. That level is calculated on a case-by-case basis by comparing their income and capital to their personal allowance (correctly known as an applicable amount). The applicable amount takes into account the size and circumstances of the claimant's household (for example, the number of children, whether someone is disabled, etc).

Sixty five per cent of any income that exceeds their applicable amount is deducted from their eligible rent and the balance, if there is any, is their benefit entitlement. Anyone of working age who has more than £16,000 in savings will not qualify for housing benefit.

Anyone claiming housing benefit must satisfy the habitual residence test, which includes having a right to reside and being habitually resident in the common travel area (the UK, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the Republic of Ireland).

NHS: Cluster Boards

Question

Asked by Lord Newton of Braintree

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Primary care trusts (PCTs) have a number of statutory responsibilities (which are, in practice, the responsibility of the PCT board). These include a responsibility:

to secure the provision of certain health services for the population registered with general practitioner practices in the PCT's area, and to secure other specified services for all persons present in the PCT's area, within the resources delegated by Parliament;regarding emergency planning to work with other appropriate authorities (e.g. police and local authorities);to engage and involve the public and stakeholders in the planning of services and to consult formally on changes in service provision; andto comply with the Nolan principles, standing financial instructions and have robust internal controls and governance.

Strategic health authorities (SHAs) have a number of statutory responsibilities (which are, in practice, the responsibility of the SHA board). These include a responsibility for:

ensuring that patients have access to high-quality services in its area;supporting National Health Service trusts to reach foundation trust status;overseeing the performance of PCTs and NHS trusts; and

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holding PCTs to account for delivery of their respective statutory responsibilities.

Bringing PCTs and SHAs together into clusters is a tool to protect management capacity and make sure PCTs and SHAs are able to maintain performance and carry out their statutory functions during the transition. However, PCTs and SHAs still exist as legal entities and their boards retain all their statutory responsibilities until, subject to parliamentary approval, they are abolished in 2013.

A PCT or SHA cluster board can only take decisions in areas where each individual PCT or SHA in the cluster has delegated functions to it, and only for as long as that delegation continues.

NHS: Consultancy Services

Questions

Asked by Lord Wills

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The cost of non-medical consultants employed by the National Health Service is shown in the following table:

Management Consultancy expenditure 2006-07 to 2010-11
2010-11 £000s2009-10 £000s2008-09 £000s2007-08 £000s2006-07 £000s

NHS bodies (excluding foundation trusts)1

291,047

455,213

419,579

308,462

n/a

NHS trusts source non-medical non-clinical staff directly, and this information is not collated by the department.

There are national frameworks in place by the Government Procurement Service for non-medical non-clinical staff; this includes white and blue collar roles and frameworks for management consultancy which are in place for government departments and the wider public sector including health.

A spreadsheet can be accessed at the following website which indicates band and range. This does not include the agency charges: http://www.buyingsolutions. gov.uk/services/ResourcingServices/resourcing solutionshealth/nonmedicalnonclinical.



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The NHS Trust Model Standing Orders, Reservation and Delegation of Powers and Standing Financial Instructions document states, under paragraph 17 on tendering and contracting procedures, that the procurement procedures used shall demonstrate that the award of the contract was that best value for money was achieved.

NHS: Primary Care Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are 151 primary care trusts (PCTs) in England which are grouped into 50 clusters. The mean size of each PCT, in terms of the population they serve, is 348,570. The mean size of each PCT cluster, in terms of the population they serve, is 1,052,683.

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government do not hold figures for the prevalence of parental alienation syndrome. We do however recognise the potential for lasting emotional harm if one parent turns their child against the other parent. The Government's response to the family justice review sets out a range of reforms to the private law system that should help to limit the consequences arising from disputes between separated parents. Support to help parents focus on the needs of their children and resolve their own disputes will be backed by a legislative statement reinforcing the principle that most children benefit from a continuing relationship with both parents. We will also look carefully at how the enforcement of court orders can be swifter and more effective.

Population

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney



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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Kilclooney, dated February 2012.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what percentage of the United Kingdom population are estimated to live in (1) Scotland. (2) Wales. (3) Northern Ireland, and (4) England, and what was the percentage of inward foreign investment in the most recent year for which figures are available into each of those four nations (HL15615).

Table 1 shows the percentage of the usually resident population of the UK estimated to live in each of the four UK constituent countries in mid-2010. These are the latest available population estimates

Table 1: Percentage of UK population resident in UK constituent countries, mid-2010
CountryPercentage

United Kingdom

100

England

84

Wales

5

Scotland

8

Northern Ireland

3

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) estimates at the UK constituent country level is not available. This would require information that ONS does not collect as part of the FDI survey.

Public Toilets

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): While most local authorities provide public toilets, they have no duty to do so. Public toilets are provided by a range of organisations including local councils, transport operators and the private sector. In addition, many local authorities are taking positive steps to enhance public access to toilets in their area through approaches like community toilet schemes, where local shops and businesses receive a small fee for allowing free access to their toilets.

The previous administration published guidance in 2008 on Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets.

Schools: Asbestos

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The issue of asbestos in schools is being managed through the joint actions of Partnerships for Schools and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with the advice of the department's Asbestos in Schools Steering Group.

In January, the HSE issued advice and guidance on asbestos management in schools based on its recent inspections. The HSE is also gathering intelligence to see whether further inspections of schools are necessary.

In September this year the department will launch an asbestos awareness-raising website and e-learning modules for head teachers, governors and school staff. As well as training, the website will allow schools and local authorities to share good practice and documentation in respect of asbestos management.

Last year the department asked the Committee on Carcinogenicity to look at the relative vulnerability of children to low-level asbestos exposure. This will be the first such assessment as previous assessments have been for adults exposed to high exposure levels. We will review our policy on asbestos management and our advice to schools when we receive its report.

Schools: Satellite Schools

Questions

Asked by Lord Lewis of Newnham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Section 39 EIA 2006 and S104 SSFA effectively mean there can be no new maintained schools with selective admission arrangements and we have not proposed any changes to that legislation. The Academies Act 2010 only provides for existing grammar schools to convert to academy status and does not allow any new selective academies to be established.

The school admissions code, which came into force on 1 February, gives greater freedom to all schools to expand, including for those schools that are their own admission authority (foundation schools, voluntary aided schools, academies and trust schools). It is possible for an existing maintained grammar school or academy

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with selective arrangements to expand the number of places they offer, including by extending on to another site; split-site schools are not a new concept. There are, however, limitations on that sort of expansion, meaning it could only be a continuation of the existing school. The school admissions code is written from a presumption that those schools with a split site are a single school.

The department does not collect information on how many schools operate with a split site.

Taxation: Corporation Taxation

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government published a consultation document Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy on 24 March 2011. This considered a number of options, including the potential to devolve corporation tax rate-setting powers to the Northern Ireland Executive.

Estimates of the annual yield of corporation tax for Northern Ireland were included in paragraph 4.35 of this document. The value of corporation tax receipts in Northern Ireland in 2009-10 is estimated at around £465 million. As set out in the consultation document, the analysis implies that Northern Ireland corporation tax receipts excluding North Sea oil and gas, and also excluding branches, varied between 1.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent of UK corporation tax receipts between 2002-03 and 2007-08, broadly averaging 1.5 per cent. In 2008-09, the Northern Ireland tax base dipped to 1.1 per cent of UK corporation tax receipts.



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As would be normal for policy development, officials have had informal contact with the Commission, which suggests that it should be possible to design a state aids compliant system.

The Government have subsequently announced the establishment of a joint ministerial working group, comprising Ministers of the Her Majesty's Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to consider issues raised by the consultation.

A comprehensive programme of work has been agreed, aimed at examining in greater detail issues relating to the potential devolution to the Northern Ireland Assembly of powers to vary the rate of corporation tax.

This includes further work on: the potential costs to the Northern Ireland block grant of a reduction in corporation tax beyond those estimates already published in the consultation document; and the need to ensure that any proposal to devolve corporation tax powers is compliant with the Azores judgment of the European Court of Justice. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has discussed this ongoing work with colleagues in the Irish Government.

No decision has yet been made on whether to devolve corporation tax. A decision will be taken following the conclusion of work developed by the joint ministerial working group, which is expected in the summer.

Water Management: Overseas

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) strongly supports the work of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership to increase accountability of both developing countries and donors for delivering results on the ground. We recognise that it will be important to have a strong UK presence at the next high-level meeting in April 2012 and the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, has signalled his intent to be there. The UK will continue to provide support and guidance for the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, as it has done since its inception.

The challenge of providing safe water and sanitation to those who presently do not have these most basic of services remains a high priority for the British Government. DfID officials are in discussion with our international partners ahead of the April meeting in order to plan how to ensure that it is a success.


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