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New Deal for Lone Parents

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the progress of the New Deal for Lone Parents in Coventry. [2974]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: By the end of April this year, 1,562 lone parents in the Coventry district had participated in the New Deal for Lone Parents. Of these, 49 had taken up education or training to improve their skills and 578 had found work.

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Across the country we are offering lone parents new choices. We are inviting lone parents into Jobcentres to give them the chance to find out about all of the measures that we have introduced. We are offering lone parents more opportunities than ever before to move off benefit and into work, providing a better future for themselves and their children.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the evaluation of the New Deal for Lone Parents will be published. [2271]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The evaluation of the prototype of NDLP was published on 3 March 2000. Follow up reports and research on the national phase of the programme have been published since then and new items of research are published as they are completed. We expect to publish a report, bringing together findings from all strands of the evaluation, in 2003.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have contracted back into SERPS from contracted-out money purchase pension schemes and approved personal pensions in each of the last three years. [2267]

Mr. McCartney: The information is not yet available. We are currently analysing output from the NIRS2 computer system for accuracy and compatibility; this will take a number of months to complete.

Interpreting Services

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the provision of interpreting services at Jobcentres and social security offices. [1127]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: If a jobseeker whose first language is not English requires an interpreter, Employment Service (ES) policy states that the Jobcentre must provide this service to ensure our obligations to equal opportunities are met. ES staff have access to a range of interpreter provision which includes: using colleagues within the Jobcentre, local authority or community who speak the relevant language; asking if the jobseeker would like to bring a friend or relative along to translate; and, through a contract with the Benefits Agency, access to the telephone interpreting service 'Language Line'.

The Benefits Agency also have a responsibility to make appropriate provision to communicate with customers who do not speak English, who use British Sign Language, or who require the services of a lipspeaker or deafblind interpreter. The policy for the delivery of interpreting services is: where it is necessary to interview a customer who does not speak English or Welsh, arrangements must be made within one working day to provide an interpreter 1 .

Stakeholder Pensions

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if life insurance cover may be included in

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the minimum contribution level needed for a group personal pension to be accepted as an alternative to a stakeholder pension. [367]

Mr. McCartney: Yes, but the proportion of the minimum 3 per cent. contribution level that can be used for insurance premiums to provide death benefits depends on when the arrangement was set up.

If the arrangement for paying premiums via the personal pension was set up before 6 April 2001, a maximum of 5 per cent. of the employee's net relevant earnings can still be used towards the term assurance contract.

But where the arrangements commenced on or after 6 April 2001, the maximum that can be paid as a premium is 10 per cent. of the pension contribution. Thus if the only pension contribution is the employer's 3 per cent., the maximum that can be used as a premium is 10 per cent. of the 3 per cent.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research his Department is undertaking to assess the income levels of people who invest in stakeholder pensions. [375]

Mr. McCartney: As part of a wide-ranging evaluation of the impact of stakeholder pensions the Department is undertaking a programme of dedicated research and analyses of administrative and statistical information. Details of individuals' incomes have been, or will be, collected in all research among individuals undertaken by, or on behalf of, the Department in connection with the evaluation of stakeholder pensions. Questions on stakeholder pensions will, for example, be included in the Office for National Statistics (ONS's) General Household Survey and in the Department's Family Resources Survey.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions are taking place between the Government and Opra to ensure there is a clear set of guidelines by which to determine which companies are fined for breaking the new stakeholder rules; and if small firms will be offered more leeway than larger firms when the rules have been broken. [365]

Mr. McCartney: From 8 October employers who are not exempt will be required to provide their employees with access to a stakeholder pension. The new requirements on employers are not onerous; but for many this will be their first involvement with pensions.

The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) is an independent regulator. Their priority is to get employers to comply with the new arrangements. A key part of this process is to continue to educate employers about the requirements of the new arrangements.

Where an employer is reported to Opra for a breach of the rules, a warning letter will be sent by Opra to the employer. The letter will explain the new requirements and the obligations that employers now have. The employer will be asked to submit evidence of compliance. Cases where the employer continues to fail to comply

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with the new arrangements will be considered by Opra on an individual basis according to the circumstances of each case. The level of any fine will depend upon the circumstances surrounding a breach, including how the employer has responded on being contacted about the breach.


Car Boot Sales

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of the number of arable farms which benefit from income from car boot sales; and if she will make a statement. [2112]

Alun Michael: There are no figures available on the number of arable farms which benefit from income from car boot sales.

Energy Efficiency

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will estimate the impact on energy use of providing home buyers with tailored energy efficiency advice on properties. [1813]

Mr. Meacher: It is very difficult to provide an accurate quantification of the energy savings expected from the provision of energy efficiency advice. However, figures from the Energy Saving Trust's Energy Efficiency Advice Centres suggest that 60 per cent. of their customers act in some way to advice given. They estimate that this has resulted in energy savings per home of £26 per year, or around 1,600 kiloWatt hours.

As my hon. Friend may know, as part of our proposals to improve the home buying and selling process, the Government propose to require sellers to include an energy efficiency report, prepared by an approved home inspector, in a new seller's pack. The purpose is to put information in the hands of the buyer at the time they are most likely to be taking decisions about expenditure on a property.

Assuming that savings are similar to those resulting from advice given by the Advice Centres, we estimate that energy efficiency advice in the seller's pack could save around two TeraWatt hours per year. This is based on around 1.3 million home transactions per year in England and Wales.

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is the average interval between application and granting of moneys for the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (a) in total, (b) in Gloucestershire and (c) the Forest of Dean. [1800]

Mr. Meacher: The average time taken from initial application to payment to installers is set out in the table. The figures identified include the time taken by HEES surveyors to identify measures to be installed and installers submitting and receiving payment of their invoices following completion of works, typically 6–8 weeks:

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Forest of Dean93134

Plutonium MOX Fuel

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the text of the letter sent to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent, dated 11 May, concerning the remit of consultants Arthur D. Little in the independent appraisal of the revised BNFL economic and market assessment for plutonium MOX fuel; and if she will place in the Library a copy of the completed ADL study. [1758]

Mr. Meacher: My letter to my hon. Friend was dated 30 May; the answer I gave on 11 May 2001, Official Report, column 386W, said that I would write to him. I have placed a copy of my 30 May letter in the Library of the House.

We intend to publish the Arthur D. Little report as soon as possible, excluding only that material—such as contract prices—whose publication would cause unreasonable commercial damage to BNFL's commercial operations or to the economic case for the MOX plant itself. A copy of this, too, will be placed in the Library. We propose to allow people four weeks for comment.

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