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Fuel Poverty

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the extent to which fuel poverty has changed in Great Britain as a result of recent changes in gas charges to domestic consumers. [36782]

Mr. Wilson: The increases in gas prices have largely been offset by decreases in electricity prices and therefore should not adversely affect the numbers in fuel poverty at present.

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The Government have recognised in their fuel poverty strategy the importance of fuel prices in tackling fuel poverty and will monitor the situation carefully as part of its overall monitoring of progress towards its fuel poverty targets.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assumptions about (a) energy prices, (b) improvements in energy efficiency standards and (c) household incomes were used to arrive at the reduced incidence of fuel poverty cited in the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy document published in November 2001. [42198]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 11 March 2002]: The estimates of fuel poverty in England in 1998 were based on income and energy efficiency information collected from a sample survey (the Energy Follow UP Survey to the English House Condition Survey (EFUS)). The estimates for 1999 and 2000 were based on the results from the 1998 EFUS, but taking account of estimated changes in incomes and fuel prices. No account was taken of changes in energy efficiency since 1998. The detailed assumptions underlying these estimates are set out in the "Fuel Poverty in England in 1999 and 2000" document which, as stated in the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, was published at index.htm.

Parental Leave Directive

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the (a) financial costs and (b) benefits to her Department of the parental leave directive. [42491]

Ms Hewitt: The costs of implementation of the parental leave directive to my department have been nil.

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The benefits for the department's staff are further opportunities to take leave for the care of their children which gives greater flexibility when balancing their responsibilities at work and at home.

The benefits to the department include enhancing the DTI's reputation as an employer of choice and contributing to the diversity of the work force; benefits which are directly passed on to our customers.

Flexible Working

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many and what proportion of the staff of her Department are (a) job sharing, (b) term working and (c) engaged in another form of flexible working. [42430]

Ms Hewitt: Currently in DTI HQ there are 28 job shares; there are no individuals working school term times only and the staff survey shows that 78 per cent. of staff state that their managers allow working patterns to help them balance work and home life.

Currently our data is limited, as many flexible working patterns are negotiated locally. However, on 2 April of this year the department will be launching a new flexible working policy (including full guidance for managers and staff) to ensure that new ways of working are available to all individuals and that the benefits to stakeholders, customers, managers and staff are fully maximised. We will also be putting in place mechanisms to monitor the increased take-up of flexible working.

Job Advertisements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the job advertisements placed by her Department in the last 12 months specifying where the advertisements were placed and the cost in each case. [39055]

Ms Hewitt: The information requested is in the following table.

PostAdvertisedCost (£)(10)
Chief Executive, Insolvency ServiceFinancial Times5,770.00
Director, Industrial Development UnitSunday Times/Times/Financial Times17,865.00
Chief Executive, NWMLSunday Times/Times7,195.00
Solicitor and DG, Legal ServicesSunday Times/Times7,320.00
Chief Executive, Companies HouseSunday Times/Times12,805.00
Regional Director, GO-NESunday Times/Times11,058.00
Director, Future and InnovationSunday Times/Times11,105.00
Chief Executive, SBSSunday Times/Times9,770.00
Chief Economic AdviserSunday Times/Times/Financial Times19,220.00
Director, UK Foresight ProgrammeSunday Times/Times11,732.50
Environmental Specialist/Senior ManagerNew Scientist6,715.00
Ends Report1,450.00
Aberdeen Press and Journal3,672.00
Aberdeen Press and Journal2,700.00
Library Information ProfessionalsLA Record1,222.00
Administrator/Admin. Assistant, CardiffWestern Mail/South Wales Echo11,107.80
Technical AdvisersDaily Telegraph5,964.00
Investigation OfficersPolice Review4,600.00
Finance Managers, LondonAccountancy Age3,000.00
Financial Times6,000.00
Administrator/Admin. Assistant, LondonEthnic Media Group4,028.40
The Voice2,080.60
Ready, Willing and Able300.00
Evening Standard5,285.04
Administrator, EdinburghThe Scotsman4,395.40
Security Inspectors, HarwellTelegraph8,521.60
Administrator, EdinburghThe Scotsman5,402.80
Personal Assistant, HarwellThe Wantage and Grove Herald874.80
Newbury Weekly News786.80
Secretarial Support, LondonDisability Now1,792.56
Evening Standard and Metro8,538.16
Ethnic Media Group4,142.64
Ms London and Nine to Five2,650.80
Administrator, WatfordWatford Observer900.48
Porter/Messenger, LondonEvening Standard1,892.08
Admin. Assistant, BirminghamBirmingham Mail3,427.28

(10) Excluding VAT

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Cowboy Builders

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has for the future of the Quality Mark to combat cowboy builders. [43124]

Mr. Wilson: I am pleased to announce that the Quality Mark is going to be rolled out across the country over a three to four year period. The progressive rollout will begin with urban areas in England and Wales and districts that have already demonstrated interest in the scheme.

The Quality Mark was established to combat the problem of cowboy builders by creating a list of approved tradesmen. Homeowners can call the Quality Mark hotline on 0845 300 8040 or log on to to find an independently assessed tradesman in one of 18 trades to work in their home. The scheme was piloted for six months in Birmingham and Somerset. 150 tradesmen have achieved the Quality Mark and 25,000 consumers have phoned or logged on to access the list of approved tradesmen.

The pilot has been evaluated by a review group including industry, consumer and regulatory interests. The group published their report on 28 February and found that:

The review recommended that a shadow ownership group, featuring the main partners, and working with DTI, should be established quickly to drive forward the implementation of Quality Mark. Membership and terms of reference of the group will be outlined shortly. There will also be a launch event in the coming weeks.

Finally I would like to make it clear that reputable tradesmen all over the country can join the Quality Mark scheme immediately through the hotline or website. This is the only scheme that gives reputable tradesmen the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism and separate themselves from the cowboys. I encourage tradesmen and local authorities to get behind the Quality Mark so that people around the country can benefit from the scheme as homeowners in Birmingham and Somerset have.

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Small Businesses

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support will be made available to small businesses to enable them to comply with the legal requirement to provide disabled access once the extension of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is implemented in October 2004. [39770]

Nigel Griffiths: The Small Business Service is currently working with the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) to produce a factsheet and audio guide informing small businesses about the requirements of the DDA, including the requirement which will be implemented in October 2004.

The DRC published a revised Code of Practice on rights of access to goods, facilities, services and premises for disabled people on 26 February 2002. This statutory code explains the law and provides practical guidance for service providers on their current duties and those that will come into force in 2004.

As well as the code, the DRC have recently published "A practical guide for small businesses and other small service providers". The guide offers advice on how small businesses and service providers might meet the needs of their disabled customers. A range of leaflets focusing on specific types of business is also available from the DRC. Advice and information on all aspects of the DDA is available via the DRC helpline.

The Government are also working on raising awareness of the DDA among small businesses. In January we launched a large national campaign which featured small businesses in seven adverts on the theme of "How well do you serve your disabled customers?"

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