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15 Jan 2001 : Column: 69W
Workstep programme for the economic viability and maintenance of employment in sheltered employment factories. 
Ms Hodge [holding answer 8 January 2001]: The design of the Workstep programme involved extensive consultation with a full range of interested parties. This included gathering the views of disabled people themselves through a public consultation exercise and also meetings with Supported Employment providers, Trade Unions and other interested parties.
Supported factories and businesses have and will continue to play an important role, both in supporting disabled people to progress into mainstream work and in providing longer-term support for people who face the greatest barriers to working.
Ms Jowell: Latest figures show that to the end of October 2000, at least 644 young people in the Wansbeck constituency have found employment helped by the New Deal programme. There may be other young people in the area who left the programme for employment without telling the Employment Service. These are not included in the figure.
Ms Jowell: Since the introduction of New Deal 50 plus in April 2000, to the end of November 2000, 108 people have entered work with the help of New Deal 50 plus in the Northumberland district, which includes Wansbeck. It is not possible at this stage to provide figures at constituency level.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many times the Ministerial Committee on the Co-ordination of Basic Skills Policy has met to date; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wicks [holding answer 11 January 2001]: The Ministerial Group on Adult Basic Skills first met in November 2000. It is due to meet again at the end of this month. This group has a key role in addressing adult basic skills across Government and ensures a co-ordinated approach in helping adults with weak literacy and numeracy to improve their skills. My right hon. Friend issued a statement on the Government's basic skills proposals on 5 December.
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Mr. Wicks [holding answer 11 January 2001]: The Secretary of State has announced an additional £50 million in 2001-02, rising to £110 million in 2002-03 and £170 million in 2003-04, to help higher education institutions recruit and retain the staff they need to improve further the quality of teaching, learning and research. In return, the Secretary of State will be looking for evidence of improvements in human resource development and staff management. The Higher Education Funding Council for England is consulting on the human resource strategies which will underpin the allocation of funds, including how institutions will review the performance of staff and reward it appropriately.
Mr. Robert Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on his Department's consultation into the responsibilities undertaken by NTOtele.com before going into receivership. 
Mr. Wicks [holding answer 11 January 2001]: NTOtele.com has been operating in Administration since 3 November 2000. The purpose of the consultation exercise is to seek the views of the industry on the future arrangements for National Training Organisation (NTO) coverage in the sector.
Mr. Wicks [holding answer 11 January 2001]: On 17 October, I announced plans for consultation on ways of creating a smaller and stronger NTO network. In the light of the consultation exercise that will run from 15 January to 12 April 2001, it is no longer appropriate to continue with the planned re-recognition of NTOs against the original criteria.
Those NTOs who have prepared re-recognition applications have been offered the opportunity to present their evidence to the independent NTO Advisory Group and receive an informal feedback on areas for development.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the response to the Holocaust Memorial Day education resource pack has been; if every school has received a pack; what his assessment is of how successful the pack has been in promoting activities on Holocaust Memorial Day for schools; and if he will make a statement. 
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Jacqui Smith: The Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) Education Pack was launched on 9 November as part of the build up to the Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January. The pack has been produced by an education working group of experts from non-government organisations, including the Holocaust Educational Trust who, on behalf of the working group, are making the pack available to all schools. So far, almost 30,000 copies have been distributed to schools, community groups, local authorities and others.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list those learning and skills councils which have members drawn from the ethnic minority communities. 
Mr. Wicks: Ethnic minority communities are well represented in the initial appointments to the local Learning and Skills Councils. Of the 47 local Councils, 26 have members drawn from ethnic minority communities and in total there are 45 ethnic minority members of local Councils. This is about 7 per cent. of the total number of Council members and is broadly in line with the proportion of people from ethnic minorities in the national working population. The 26 areas where such members have already been appointed are:
Birmingham and Solihull
The Black Country
Coventry and Warwickshire
Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole
The West of England
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Ms Jowell: People claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) make written declarations each fortnight in support of their claim. The majority attend the Jobcentre to do so, but some jobseekers can send their declarations by post instead. This applies if their door-to-door travelling time to the Jobcentre by local bus would be more than an hour in either direction, or if the bus service would cause them to be away from home for more than four hours in total, or if they have a disability which impairs their mobility. They therefore do not incur travel costs in claiming JSA.
Jobseekers who are required to make their declarations at the Jobcentre may incur some travel costs whether or not they live in a rural area. These costs are not refunded, and there are no plans to change this.
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