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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many benefit entitlement checks have been carried out on people in (a) Crosby constituency and (b) England in the last 12 months. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what scientific evidential basis has been used by his Department in its analysis of the use of voice risk analysis technology by benefit authorities; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment of the efficacy of the use of voice risk analysis technology by benefit authorities his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned from (i) independent bodies and (ii) service providing contractors; and what the (A) methodology and (B) conclusions of those assessments is; 
(3) what disability impact assessment of the use of voice risk analysis technology in each pilot benefit authority his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned from (i) independent bodies and (ii) service providing contractors; and what the (A) methodology and (B) conclusions of those assessments are; 
There is a body of published scientific research on voice risk analysis, but there is no published research on the efficacy of the technology when applied to benefit claims. The Department is therefore conducting its own research into the efficacy of voice risk analysis based on trials by local authorities and Jobcentre Plus. The Departments evaluation is being conducted by departmental statisticians who are bound by a National
Code of Practice. The Department has not commissioned any independent bodies or service providing contractors to conduct an evaluation.
The Departments assessment of its voice risk analysis trials during 2007-08 in Jobcentre Plus and local authorities, and details of its evaluation methodology, have been published. I refer the hon. Member to the Official Report, column 19WS of the 11 March. Each local authority conducting trials of voice risk analysis technology is responsible for completing a disability impact assessment. This is a prerequisite to participation in the Departments trial.
In accordance with departmental policy on carrying out equality impact assessments Jobcentre Plus conducted an initial screening on their voice risk analysis pilot. The pilot was restricted to assessing whether the technology could successfully identify the difference between high and low risk readings. As the pilot processes were specifically designed to test the voice risk analysis technology only and not its use as a new process or policy for implementation across Jobcentre Plus, it was concluded a full impact assessment was not required.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many benefit entitlement checks have been carried out for people in (a) Tamworth constituency and (b) England in the last 12 months. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the additional annual cost to the public purse of uprating the basic state pension in line with earnings from 2010-11. 
|Gross additional basic state pension spend due to pension reform and restoring uprating the basic state pension by earnings from 2010-11, 2008-09 prices.|
1. Baseline published projections of expenditure on pensioner benefits assume that the basic state pension is increased by earnings from 2012.
2. Estimates given show the gross additional basic state pension spend due to increasing the basic state pension by earnings from 2010 and implementing the 2007 Pensions Act reforms from April 2010. During the next Parliament, we will re-link the uprating of the basic state pension to average earnings. Our objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, is to do this in 2012, but in any event by the end of the next Parliament at the latest. We will make a statement on the precise date at the beginning of the next Parliament.
3. Estimates do not reflect the estimated savings from reduced income related benefit payments (pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit).
4. In the financial years up to and including 2013-14 Treasury Economic assumptions consistent with PBR 2008 have been used to model earnings uprating. After this point a long term earnings growth assumption of 4.93 per cent. has been applied.
5. Estimates are in 2008-09 prices, have been rounded to the nearest £100 million and include UK and overseas claimants.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what programmes his Department is funding to assist people with (a) HIV and (b) other long-term conditions back to work; and whether staff running those programmes receive HIV-specific training. 
Mr. McNulty: Jobcentre Plus is committed to supporting people with a disability or health condition, including those with HIV and other long-term conditions to find suitable, sustainable employment. It does this through its personal advisers, including disability employment advisers, and a variety of programmes and services aimed at supporting customers with disabilities and health conditions.
Jobcentre Plus works with a range of providers from the private, public and voluntary sectors to provide specialist disability programmes to help people with a disability or health condition, including HIV, to overcome the labour market barriers they may face. These programmes include Work Preparation, Workstep (a programme of supported employment), New Deal for Disabled People and residential training. Disability employment advisers also have access to work psychologists to assist them in supporting customers if appropriate.
For customers claiming benefits due to illness or disability the Pathways to Work programme helps move them into or nearer to work. Pathways to Work offers, among other things, a series of interviews with a personal adviser and training programmes to increase skills, confidence or help to manage a health condition.
People who are in work or due to start work and need support can claim help from Access to Work. Access to Work can provide practical advice and support to the disabled person and their employer to help them overcome work related obstacles resulting from disability. All Access to Work support is tailored to the individuals needs.
From Autumn 2010 the new specialist disability programme will replace the existing Workstep and work
preparation programmes and will be designed as a single streamlined and flexible programme based on effective needs assessment and creation of tailored packages of appropriate support.
There is a comprehensive programme of learning designed to equip Jobcentre Plus advisers with the full range of knowledge and skills required to support all customers. This learning routeway provides the adviser with the key knowledge and skills to interview customers and enable them to work effectively with customers with disabilities or health conditions. Part of the training is a Disability Confident course which explains various disabilities and health conditions, including HIV and other long term conditions, and what would be considered reasonable adjustment by employers.
Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons he proposes a UK reservation to Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; what discussions he has had with representatives of devolved administrations in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland on his proposal; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The UK Government propose to enter an interpretative declaration and a reservation in respect of article 24 of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The interpretative declaration will make clear that the UK general education system includes both mainstream and special schools, thereby clarifying how the UK Government interpret the convention. This will make it clear that special schools are considered part of the UK's general education system and that parents have the right to express a preference for a special school. A reservation will allow for circumstances where disabled children's needs may be best met through specialist provision, which may be some way from their homeso they will need to be educated outside their local community. This also maintains parental choice for schools outside the local community.
I met representatives from the Northern Ireland Assembly on 11 December 2008, and of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament on 14 December 2008. The Government's proposals for ratifying the convention, including the declaration and reservation in respect of article 24 were discussed at these meetings.
There are already a number of flexibilities within jobseeker's allowance for claimants who are volunteers at any point during their claim. Jobseekers who do voluntary work do not have to attend a job interview or take up a job straight away. They are allowed 48 hours to attend a job interview and one week to take up a job offer. In addition any money they
receive to cover expenses incurred while volunteering (for food, travel, etc.) does not affect their benefit entitlement.
Our view is that the benefit rules strike a proper balance between allowing benefit recipients to pursue voluntary activity while at the same time encouraging them to retain a clear focus on moving off welfare into paid work. Our recent White Paper, Raising Expectations and Increasing Support (Cm 7506, 10 December) set out our vision and route map for a welfare state where everyone is given the help they need to get back to work.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the proportion of people who registered as jobseekers in the last six months who were under 40 years of age. 
|Proportion of jobseeker's allowance claimants under 40 years of age in Great Britain|
| Notes: 1. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. 2. Claimant count data are published at https://www.nomisweb.co.uk. 3. Figures exclude clerical cases. Source: 100 per cent. count of claimants of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus Computer Systems (computer held cases only).|
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 94W, on unemployment benefits (1) whether his Department holds any elements of the information requested; 
Mr. McNulty: Any such estimates could be collated only at disproportionate cost. This is because the Department holds records of people who have signed on but does not, and cannot, hold records of people who have not signed on, whatever their reason for not signing on may be.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the application of the provisions of the national minimum wage to individuals whom it is proposed should work for their benefits under the provisions of the Welfare Reform Bill; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty [holding answer 2 April 2009]: Participants in Work for Your Benefit will be undertaking work-experience as part of an employment programme designed to get them back into work. Individuals taking part in work placements on government programmes do so on the basis that such participation gives them work experience or training which adds value and which improves their employability.
Existing Government policy for people participating in employment programmes is that a person who continues to receive financial support from the Government is not entitled to receive the national minimum wage while on a work placement. As such the national minimum wage will not apply in Work for Your Benefit.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's latest estimate has made of the number of job vacancies in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland constituency. 
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many job vacancies there were in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland constituency. (263799)
The Office for National Statistics estimates the number of vacancies from the Vacancy Survey, however estimates below UK are not available from this source.
An alternative source of information on job vacancies is administrative data from Jobcentre Plus. This data only includes job vacancies notified to Jobcentre Plus and consequently is inconsistent with the UK estimates from the Vacancy Survey, however geographical breakdowns of this data are available.
Table 1 attached, shows the number of live unfilled job vacancies held by Jobcentre Plus for Cumbria and Copeland constituency, in February 2009, the most recent period for which figures are available. Figures from Jobcentre Plus for Great Britain, along with three month averages for the UK from the Vacancy Survey have also been included for comparison.
|Table 1: Number of job vacancies( 1) in Cumbria and Copeland parliamentary constituency|
|Not seasonally adjusted|
| Source: Jobcentre Plus Administrative Data.|
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