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New Deal

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are taken to assess the number of entrants to the New Deal for Young People who are functionally (a) illiterate and (b) innumerate on (i) entering and (ii) leaving the Gateway Period of the New Deal; and how many such people are on the New Deal. [25987]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: New Deal personal advisers follow a clear screening and assessment process to ensure young people requiring help with basic skills, such as literacy and numeracy, are offered assistance to meet their needs.

As part of the initial interview with people entering the New Deal, personal advisors ask questions designed to establish whether the young person has any potential basic skills needs. If a possible need is identified, the young person is referred for independent assessment through a Basic Skills Agency test. Young people are then offered basic skills help in line with the assessment outcome. Following the basic skills provision, personal advisers keep track of the young person's improvements and discuss with them the most appropriate method of meeting any further needs.

Information on those requiring help with basic skills has been collected since April 2001. It does not differentiate between literacy and numeracy. Between April and November 2001, 4,410 young people attended provision designed to address their basic skills needs. 2,854 of these were within the New Deal gateway. Information on the outcomes of basic skills provision is not available.

Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in the Harwich constituency are in the New Deal programme; and how many were placed in employment following their participation in the scheme. [30980]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Information at constituency level is not available for the New Deal for Disabled People and the New Deal for Partners. The available information is in the table:

jenny

New DealParticipating as at end November 2001Placed into employment
Young People55586
25 plus5568
Lone Parents177201
50 plus*71143

* Figures are to the end of December 2001.

Source:

New Deal Evaluation Database.

Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time is that the Head of his Department has recommended since May

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1997 between a special adviser leaving his Department and taking up outside employment; and if he will make a statement. [28913]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to him on 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 594W.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list his Department's total expenditure by month in each financial year since 1997-98. [32803]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Monthly figures for all Departments would be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the Treasury has published full, financial outturns for the years 1997-98 to 1999-2000 in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (Cm 5101). Provisional financial year outturns for 2000-01 have been published in Public Expenditure 2000-01 Provisional Outturn (Cm5243).

Staff Numbers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were employed in his Department in each of the last four years. [23799]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: I refer to the reply given by the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 18 December 2001, Official Report, column 256W.

IT Costs

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the costs of RFR4 Modernising Welfare Delivery are in respect of information technology, computerisation and on-line technology; and how much of these costs are outsourced. [31522]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The costs contained in RFR4 Modernising Welfare Delivery are all considered to be for information technology computerisation and on-line technology; in as much they cover all modernisation projects funded from the welfare modernisation fund. The costs contained in RFR4 for the financial year 2001–02 are:

million
Running Costs467
Capital88
Total555

The portion of these costs that has been outsourced (based on current project forecasts of costs of external suppliers for this financial year), are:


million
Running Costs252
Capital88
Total340


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Unemployment (St. Helens, South)

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of the unemployed in St. Helens, South have been unemployed for a year or more (a) this year, (b) in 1997 and (c) in 1992. [38268]

Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.

jenny

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Shaun Woodward, dated 28 February 2002:





St. Helens South parliamentary constituency: Claimants for over one year (computerised claims only*)

LevelPer cent.
January 19921,70434.5
January 19971,30037.9
January 200245420.2

* Computerised claims include around 99 per cent. of all claims.


TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Rail Infrastructure Company

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the involvement her Department has had in the proposed structure of the successor company to Railtrack. [35302]

Ms Hewitt: My Department has had no involvement in this issue.

Energy (Environmental Guidelines)

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when her Department intends to issue the statutory social and environmental guidelines to the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority. [35384]

Mr. Wilson: I refer the hon. Member to answer given on 26 February 2001, Official Report, column 1127w.

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Universal Bank

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if funds will be made available to self-employed sub-postmasters and mistresses to cover the costs of training staff in the use of the Universal Bank. [36116]

Mr. Alexander: The training of self-employed sub-postmasters in the use and delivery of Universal Banking Services is a commercial and operational matter for Post Office Limited.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the number of sub-post offices in which the Universal Bank will operate. [36050]

Mr. Alexander: The delivery of Universal Banking services is a commercial and operational matter for Post Office Limited. My understanding is that Universal Banking Services will be available at all post offices.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the sums allocated by each of the major clearing banks for investment in the Universal Bank. [36053]

Mr. Alexander: The major high street banks and the Nationwide Building Society have agreed to contribute 180 million to the costs of the Post Office Card Account. They have also agreed that they will make their own basic bank accounts accessible through post offices. How much each institution is allocating to the latter is a commercial matter for each organisation.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what charges will be operated by the Universal Bank for accounts that go into overdraft. [36119]

Mr. Alexander: Universal Banking Services have two elements. Under the first element the banks will make their basic bank accounts accessible at post offices. Implementation of that agreement is now a commercial matter between Post Office Limited and the banks. The detailed features of these accounts are not part of the agreement on Universal Banking Services. However, the Government have announced their intention to establish a benchmark CAT standard––covering charges, access and terms––for a basic bank account, and are still in discussion with the banks about these. The second element of Universal Banking Services is the Post Office Card Account. This account will allow benefits claimants to access their benefits in cash at post offices using a Post Office based card instead of an order book or giro. It will not be possible for the account to be overdrawn.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the costs of training staff in sub-post offices in the use of the Universal Bank, and what sums are allocated in her Department's budget for training sub-post office staff in the use of the Universal Bank. [36054]

Mr. Alexander: The staff training involved in the delivery of Universal Banking Services through post offices is a commercial matter for the Post Office Limited.

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