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Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was spent of the New Opportunities Fund on PE and sports in schools in rural England in (a) 200001, (b) 200102 and (c) 200203 to date. 
Mr. Caborn [holding answer 31 October 2002]: The New Opportunities Fund (NOF) has allocated funding to each LEA area to ensure that funding is available for projects in all parts of England. These allocations are made up of a baseline allocation (based on the size of the school population in the LEA) and a deprivation allocation (based on the levels of deprivation within the LEA).
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations have been made to her by the Scottish Executive on the operation of the New Opportunities Fund in Scotland. 
Mr. Caborn: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received a number of representations from the Scottish Executive about the New Opportunities Fund's operations in Scotland. The most recent of these concerned the future allocation of NOF funding in Scotland.
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Mr. Caborn: As the Special Olympics is a grassroots sporting event the United Kingdom delegation does not qualify for specific funding from either Sport England or UK Sport. I understand that in previous years the Special Olympics has canvassed for support from many organisations without relying on any one block grant.
My right hon Friend the Prime Minister has recently provided a message of support for the Special Olympics XSupport an Athlete" fundraising initiative. XSupport an Athlete" will be launched in January 2003 and will provide companies, individuals and schools with the opportunity to sponsor an athlete or an entire delegation for the duration of the Games. The monies raised will cover all costs involved in hosting the delegations during their two week stay, and includes food, transport, insurance and entertainment for that period.
Maria Eagle: We regularly receive representation from a variety of sources regarding our policies for tackling pensioner poverty. In addition both Ministers and Officials meet regularly with organisations that represent older people to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what measures his Department has taken to prevent pensions and benefits claimants with (a) learning disabilities and (b) registered sight loss from being penalised following the introduction of Automatic Credit Transfer; 
Malcolm Wicks: Many people in these circumstances already opt to be paid directly into their bank account. After April 2003 many others will be able to benefit from the greater flexibility that payment by automated credit transfer offers in terms of when and where they collect their money.
The new service is being designed with the needs of all customers in mind. Banks are making their basic accounts accessible at the Post Office. The Post Office is developing a post office card account which is a simple account just for the receipt of benefit, pension and tax credit payments. As is now the case with orderbooks and girocheques, customers can, if they wish, nominate someone else to collect their money for them. In these cases a second card will be issued.
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Our information campaign will take customers through the changes that are being made to the way benefits and pensions are paid. Customers will be supplied with information which clearly sets out their account options including a leaflet which outlines the features of each type of account. This will help customers to decide which account best meets their needs and circumstances.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps will be taken to assist people in hospitals or otherwise unable to get to banks because of illness to collect pensions from source after January 2003. 
Malcolm Wicks: As with orderbooks and girocheques now, customers would need to give someone else access to their account. The precise arrangement would depend on which type of account they have. For those with a current account there are a number of well established options which include Power of Attorney arrangements, third party mandate with the bank or provide another person with a signed letter of authority. Those with a post office card account will be able to nominate someone else to access their account through a second card.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason the Post Office has issued guidance but it will not advise customers on the best route for the payment of benefits after January 2003. 
Malcolm Wicks: It would not be appropriate for post office or Government staff to provide detailed financial advice, including which type of account people should open. The Government will make clear in its literature what options are available to customers. This literature will mention the option of continuing to collect money at a post office branch and the availability of the post office card account. The Post Office will also be able to supply information on banking at post offices. This will enable customers to decide which account best meets their needs and circumstances.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 24 July, Official Report, column 1570W, on incapacity reviews, what the findings were of the previous studies of sample cases. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: The only previous study of a sample of cases was carried out in 1996 and found that on average the whole medical assessment process took 15.9 weeks where entitlement was confirmed and 17.7 weeks where benefit was withdrawn.
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We have been vigorously promoting the benefits of age diversity and recruitment, training and retaining of older workers to employers through our Age Positive campaign. The campaign focuses on raising employers' awareness of the business case for an age diverse work force and encouraging them to use the Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment to inform their employment policies. The campaign features a range of initiatives to promote age diversity, which are shown on our website www.agepositive.gov.uk.
The Code of Practice, published in June 1999, sets out the standards for non-ageist approaches to recruitment, training, promotion, redundancy and retirement, and was developed with leading organisations including the CBI, TUC, the Employers Forum on Age and Age Concern. Evaluation of the Code of Practice, published last year, found that the number of companies using age in recruitment had fallen from 27 per cent. to 13 per cent. and those companies with a policy against employing older people has halved from 14 per cent. to 7 per cent. However it also indicated that 90 per cent. of people believe that employers do discriminate against older workers and although age awareness had increased considerably over the evaluation period, smaller employers were least likely to have realised the implications of ageism.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: [holding answer 29 October 2002]: We have made a pledge to tackle age discrimination and we are committed to introducing age legislation covering employment, vocational training and guidance by 2006.
We are already encouraging employers to adopt non-ageist employment practices through our Age Positive Campaign. The campaign raises employers' awareness of the business benefits of an age diverse work force and encourages a flexible approach to retirement to open up choice and opportunity for individuals to stay in work longer.
In 1999 we published the Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment which sets out the standards for non-ageist approaches to recruitment, training, promotion, redundancy and retirement. The code was developed with leading organisations including the CBI, TUC, the Employers Forum on Age and Age Concern. Evaluation shows that from 1999 to 2001 the number of companies using age in recruitment had already fallen from 27 per cent. to 13 per cent. and the number of companies having a policy against employing older workers had dropped from 14 per cent. to 7 per cent.
Older workers have a wealth of skills and experience that can benefit individual businesses and the economy as a whole. Our policies will help to improve further the employment rate of people over 50, which has risen considerably since 1997.
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