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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 3 February 2011

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Regulations

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what regulations his Department has introduced since 6 May 2010. [37367]

John Penrose: The following regulations sponsored by the Department have been made since 6 May 2010:

Internet: Devon

Anne Marie Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of households in Devon without access to the internet. [36169]

Mr Vaizey: I have not made a specific estimate. Almost all households in the UK can access the internet through one of a variety of mechanisms-broadband connection, dial-up connection via the phone line, mobile or satellite.

Broadband Delivery UK estimates that about 950,000 households in the UK as a whole have access to internet connections capable of 512 Kbps or less.

Olympic Games 2012

Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport when he expects the board of the Olympic Park Legacy Company to reach a decision on the future of the Olympic Stadium. [38179]


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Hugh Robertson: The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) is currently seeking clarifications on the final offers submitted by the two bidding consortiums. Once these clarifications have been received and the evaluation of bids is complete, the OPLC Board will meet to reach a decision. The decision will then be subject to approval by the founder members.

Public Libraries: Cumbria

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what recent representations he has received on library closures in (a) the North West, (b) Cumbria and (c) Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency. [37984]

Mr Vaizey: Local authorities are not obliged to consult the Secretary of State about plans for their library service. However the Department has received correspondence from library users in areas of the north-west where library closures have been proposed. The hon. Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) secured an adjournment debate on 25 January about the future of library services in which she and other hon. Members from the north-west region spoke about the library service provided to their constituents.

Attorney-General

Police

Ian Swales: To ask the Attorney-General whether he has plans to review the guidance to police officers and Crown prosecutors issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions. [38025]

The Attorney-General: The Director's Guidance on Charging is issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) under section 37A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The guidance sets out the arrangements prescribed by the DPP for the joint working of police officers and prosecutors during the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases.

The 4th Edition of the Director's Guidance on Charging was signed and issued by the DPP on 21 January 2011. The guidance is being rolled out in CPS and police force areas, and implementation is expected to be completed by 30 June 2011. Until such time that the new guidance is implemented, the 3rd Edition of the Director's Guidance on Charging remains in force.

Transport

Departmental Responsibilities

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to give effect to the Government's big society initiative since May 2010. [35342]

Norman Baker: The Department for Transport is committed to supporting the principles of the big society.

For example, in response to public concerns about the fear of litigation, in October 2010 the Department for Transport published straightforward guidance for households and traders who wish to act in a neighbourly
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way by clearing snow and ice from paths in front of property, pavements and other public spaces. It was clear during the recent spell of severe winter weather that the overwhelming majority of people want to take social action in a common sense way, whilst showing neighbourliness and generosity of spirit in these circumstances.

Furthermore, the recently published Local Transport White Paper, encourages local authorities to form greater partnership with the voluntary, community, and social enterprises sector and citizens in the design and delivery of local sustainable transport solutions. This is intended to lead to greater community empowerment, the opening up of public services and to further the promotion of social action to achieve the local outcomes people want.

Dorset

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for an official visit to Dorset. [36419]

Mr Philip Hammond [holding answer 27 January 2011]: I do not have any current plans to visit Dorset in my official capacity.

Driving: Licensing

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward proposals to (a) amend the rules for issuing Group 2 medical licences to drivers with insulin-dependent diabetes in line with EU Directive 2009/113/EC and (b) permit insulin-dependent diabetics to obtain a Group 2 licence where, in the opinion of a qualified medical practitioner, their condition is properly controlled and they pose no risk to themselves or other road users. [37927]

Mike Penning: The EU Directive 2009/113/EC proposes that the medical licensing standards for Group 2 (bus and lorry) drivers who have insulin treated diabetes can be relaxed. Decisions on implementing any change to the current UK licensing standards will be taken only when the responses to the public consultation announced today have been analysed.

Human Trafficking

Mr Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contribution he has made to the Government's review of its strategy on human trafficking. [36582]

Mr Philip Hammond [holding answer 27 January 2011]: None at this stage. Home Office Ministers have the lead on the development of the Government strategy on human trafficking, and I will contribute when the Home Secretary seeks Cabinet colleagues' comments in the normal way.

Railways: Franchising

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment will be undertaken of the availability of other forms of public transport before any rail services are ceased under new franchises; [35951]


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(2) whether an equality impact assessment will be required to be undertaken before any rail services are ceased under new franchises. [35952]

Mrs Villiers: The Railways Act 2005 stipulates that if any rail services are to be closed then both an Equalities Assessment and a business case are required. The Equalities Assessment includes consideration of alternative modes of transport. Full guidance can be found on the Department's website at:

Railways: Overcrowding

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what will be the maximum time a passenger should have to stand on an intercity rail journey under the new franchises. [35948]

Mrs Villiers: The Government's aim is that all intercity passengers should get a seat (unless they are making a short journey of less than 20 minutes). Bidders for west coast will be asked to submit credible plans for achieving this objective, based on the passenger numbers they plan to carry over the life of the franchise.

Railways: Vandalism

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on steps to deal with incidents of vandalism on the rail network. [35436]

Mrs Villiers: We are committed to combating crime, antisocial behaviour and the fear of crime wherever it occurs in the transport system. Route crime can best be tackled by all sections of the rail industry working together. The British Transport police liaises with Network Rail, local authorities, train operating companies and local schools to reduce the incidence of vandalism on the rail network.

Sea Rescue: Northern Ireland

Naomi Long: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will assess the potential effects of closure of the coastguard station in Northern Ireland. [37747]

Mike Penning: The proposals to restructure HM Coastguard are currently out to public consultation and include an option either to close the Belfast Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) or to make it a daytime only operation.

Neither option will impact on our ability to co-ordinate search and rescue (SAR); implementing the proposals will mean that this can be done from any location.

In terms of the effect on staff, if a decision was made to close Belfast, staff could apply for vacancies at a new Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) or a sub-Centre, the wider Coastguard, or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Opportunities would also be given to apply to the wider civil service. Only after all these opportunities were exhausted, would the redundancy be considered. If a decision was made to make Belfast
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MRCC a sub-centre, staff would be given the same options, including the option to apply for a post in the same location.

West Coast Railway Line

Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will assess the likely effect of technological changes to business working on the forecast demand for passenger travel on the West Coast Main Line to 2035. [36105]

Mrs Villiers: In so far as evidence is available on the impact of technology on rail demand, this is included in any demand forecasts. Research on new and evolving influences on rail demand is carried out on an ongoing basis by the Department for Transport and the rail industry's Passenger Demand Forecasting Council.

Forecasting demand to 2026 for the West Coast Mainline will be a matter for the bidders on the new franchise. As part of its evaluation process, the Department will review any evidence and assumptions included within the bids.

West Coast Railway Line: Franchising

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage passengers to engage in the consultation process on the West Coast Main Line franchise. [35997]

Mrs Villiers: Over 300 e-mails have been sent to stakeholders with the details of the Intercity West Coast Consultation Document. Four stakeholder events have been organised during February for Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and London and invitations have been issued. A stakeholder briefing document will be produced after the close of the consultation that summarises the responses received.

Scotland

Economic Growth

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 25 November 2010, Official Report, column 453W, on economic growth, whether he has requested the Chancellor of the Exchequer to commission research on future economic growth in Scotland. [37907]

David Mundell: Returning all parts of the UK to sustainable economic growth is the Government's overriding priority and it is at the heart of the Government's agenda for this Parliament. Building on announcements in the spending review and Budget, the Government are undertaking a growth review to examine what each part of Government can do to support growth and investment. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility's updated fiscal and economic forecast shows sustainable growth for the UK as a whole in each of the next five years while external forecasts for the Scottish economy predict growth in the Scottish economy of between 1.1% and 2.2% for the coming year.


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Forestry Commission

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the effects in Scotland of proposed changes to the Forestry Commission in England and Wales. [37481]

David Mundell: The Secretary of State for Scotland and I have regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on a range of issues. Forestry is a devolved matter, and the UK Government consider it unlikely that changes to the Public Forest Estate in England would have any consequences for Scottish forestry. We will of course keep the issue under review and will continue our discussions with the Scottish Government.

President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions since his appointment he has met the President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. [38095]

Michael Moore: Since my appointment I have been in contact with many people and organisations, including COSLA, on matters important to Scotland.

Wales

Departmental Regulations

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what regulations her Department has introduced since 6 May 2010; [37364]

(2) what regulations her Department has removed since 6 May 2010. [37389]

Mr David Jones: The Wales Office has brought forward eight statutory instruments since 6 May 2010. None of these place burdens on business. The instruments relate to the referendum next month on further powers for the National Assembly for Wales, the elections to the Assembly in May 2011, the legislative competence of the Assembly, the appointment of the chief inspector for education and training in Wales and the use of personal data by elected representatives.

The Wales Office has repealed one statutory instrument since 6 May 2010, relating to the disqualification of candidates at the Assembly elections in 2007.

Communities and Local Government

Council Housing: Property Transfer

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many residential properties were sold by local authorities in each region in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [38032]


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Andrew Stunell: Figures on the number of sales of social housing stock by local authorities are published on the DCLG website in the form of live tables on social housing sales to sitting tenants:

Decentralisation and Localism Bill

Andrew Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultation he has undertaken with the construction industry in relation to the provisions of the Localism Bill that relate to planning powers. [37449]

Greg Clark: There have been discussions with a wide range of groups on the Localism Bill. The Department has engaged with groups such as the Confederation of British Industry, the Construction Products Association, the Federation of Master Builders and a broad range of firms from the development and house building sector.

Empty Dwelling Management Orders: Bromsgrove

Sajid Javid: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties in Bromsgrove constituency were subject to an empty dwellings management order in each year since 2007. [38547]

Andrew Stunell: There have been no empty dwelling management order applications or authorisations in the Bromsgrove area.

Government: Assets

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 26 January 2011, Official Report, column 306W, on Government: assets, which clauses in the Localism Bill enable a community right to (a) challenge and (b) buy assets owned by central Government. [37860]

Andrew Stunell: Clauses 66 to 70 in the Localism Bill make provision for the community right to challenge. This is a right for voluntary and community bodies, local authority employees looking to deliver the service as a mutual, and parish councils, to express an interest in running a local authority service.

Clauses 71 to 88 of the Localism Bill provide for the listing of Assets of Community Value, and for a window of opportunity to give community interest groups a greater opportunity to bid to buy such assets. Clause 72 enables the Secretary of State, and Welsh Ministers in Wales, to make provision which will determine whether a building or land is of community value. This definition will be set down in secondary legislation following public consultation commencing in early 2011. Central Government assets which meet this definition will be covered.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government took to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2011; and if he will make a statement. [38049]


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Andrew Stunell: Holocaust Memorial Day 2011 was marked at over 500 local events around the United Kingdom, as well as at the national commemoration in the Royal Horticultural Halls which the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles) addressed on behalf of the Government.

The Government supported the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust to organise the national commemoration and its associated educational programme, and to encourage local events. We have indicated that we will continue to meet the costs of Holocaust Memorial Day for a minimum of a further two years, during which time my Department will assist the trust to optimise its business model so that it is able to continue its crucial work in the most effective way possible.

Housing: Carbon Emissions

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to reduce carbon emissions in new properties. [37968]

Grant Shapps: The Government are committed to progressive improvements in the energy efficiency requirements for new homes and to enabling zero carbon homes from 2016 and non-domestic buildings from 2019. The Government are working with industry and others on the standards for zero carbon homes. The energy performance standards in the building regulations which apply to new buildings were strengthened last year and the Government are making plans for further changes in 2013.

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what level of emissions allow a property to be classified as a zero carbon home. [37978]

Grant Shapps: The Government believe that, to qualify as zero carbon, new homes should not add extra carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. In delivering this commitment the Government have already confirmed that this will include an ambitious requirement for energy efficiency in the fabric of new homes. In addition to this the Government have commissioned further work from the zero carbon hub on the right levels of on-site reductions and we are awaiting the full findings of this work. It is widely accepted that for the majority of new homes it is not feasible to deal with all emissions on-site; given this, Government are working with industry to develop off-site mechanisms to deliver additional cost effective carbon savings.

Housing: Construction

Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the likely change in the level of house building following the announcement of the abolition of regional housing targets. [31636]


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Andrew Stunell: From April 2011 the New Homes Bonus, will match fund the additional council tax raised for new houses and properties brought back into use, with an additional amount for affordable houses, for the following six years.

It is the market that determines how many houses are actually built. Regional housing targets have been ineffective. 2009 saw the lowest peacetime level of house starts since 1924. We are replacing targets with incentives which will be far more effective for the delivery of new houses. The number of starts in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 of 2010 has risen compared to comparable quarters of 2009.

Full details of the scheme design were published on 12 November and can be found on the Department's website at:

A consultation on the scheme design closed on 24 December. We will publish the final scheme design in due course.

Localism Bill

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will place in the Library copies of responses to the consultation on Part 6 of the Localism Bill. [37416]

Grant Shapps: The Government published "Local Decisions: a fairer future for social housing" on 22 November, setting out a range of proposed reforms and seeking views; the consultation period closed on 17 January and approximately 700 responses have been received. A summary of the responses to consultation will be published on the Department's website shortly. We intend to do so earlier than the three month deadline from end of consultation set out in the code of practice on consultation. We will place a copy in the Library of the House. Individual responses will be made available on request, unless respondents have asked that they be treated as confidential.

Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the Explanatory Notes to the Localism Bill, paragraph 463, what the evidential basis is for the calculation that the enactment of the Bill will create an estimated charge of £21 million per year on local authorities. [38024]

Greg Clark: The Government are committed to the new burdens doctrine, have considered the costs to local authorities accordingly and will provide funding in the usual ways. The figure presented in the explanatory notes is provisional, but the evidence base behind costs and benefits to different groups, including local authorities, can be found in the impact assessments which are available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website and can be found at:

Private Rented Housing

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department has plans to encourage local authorities to adopt accreditation schemes for private rented sector landlords. [37921]


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Grant Shapps: My Department is supportive of all mechanisms by which local authorities can seek to help local landlords improve the service they offer to their tenants. Accreditation schemes can be an effective way to do this. But we do not think that it is the role of central Government to prescribe to local authorities how best to manage their relationship with private landlords in their area.

Public Sector: Carbon Emissions

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his policy is on the EU target for all new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities to be near-zero carbon from 31 December 2018; what assessment he has made of UK progress toward the target; and if he will make a statement. [37909]

Andrew Stunell: The recast of the energy performance of buildings directive includes a requirement that all new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities after 31 December 2018 shall be nearly zero energy buildings. The recast must be implemented by 8 July 2013 and we will consult on its implementation in due course.

Social Rented Housing: Sales

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many residential properties have been sold by registered social landlords in each region in each of the last five years for which figures are available; [38030]

(2) how many residential properties were disposed of by each registered social landlord by auction or open market sale in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [38031]

Andrew Stunell: Figures on the number of sales of social housing stock by registered social landlords are given in the following table:

Units sold

Number

2005-06

18,147

2006-07

21,768

2007-08

20,252

2008-09

14,697

2009-10

15,891

Source: Regulatory and Statistical Return. Part K lines 4, 9, 13 (columns 1 and 2), 22 and 23 (2006-07 to 2009-10) Part K lines 5, 8, 11 (columns 1 and 2), 21 and 22 (2005-06).

These data include sales of properties by registered social landlords through right to buy, right to acquire, shared ownership initial sales, social homebuy and disposals to the private sector. Sales to another registered provider are not included. A regional breakdown of these sales by registered social landlords is not available nor are figures on whether properties are sold via auction or open market.

Tenancy Deposit Schemes

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department has plans to bring forward proposals to improve Tenancy Deposit Schemes. [37922]


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Grant Shapps: My Department will be working closely with external partners to refine and improve the operation of insurance-based tenancy deposit schemes as part of our work to ensure schemes are in place beyond March 2013, when the current schemes' service concession agreements come to an end.

Prime Minister

Departmental Pay

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Prime Minister what information his Office holds on the number of sub-contracted staff servicing his Office who were not paid at a rate equivalent to or above the London living wage in the latest period for which figures are available. [34811]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), on 31 January 2011, Official Report, column 604W.

Rupert Murdoch

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Prime Minister whether (a) he and (b) staff of 10 Downing street have met (i) Rupert Murdoch, (ii) James Murdoch, (iii) Rebekah Wade and (iv) other individuals representing (A) News International and (B) News Corporation and (C) BSkyB since 4 November 2010. [34139]

The Prime Minister: A list of official meetings by Ministers with external organisations is published quarterly and a list of official hospitality at Chequers is published annually. James Murdoch and his wife received official hospitality at Chequers on 7 November 2010. I have met Rebekah Wade and James Murdoch at social occasions. Decisions on the BSkyB merger are entirely a matter for the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt). The Prime Minister has no role or involvement. I was not party to the Secretary of State's decision ahead of his announcement on 25 January 2011, Official Report, column 3WS. Staff of 10 Downing street have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a range of subjects.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Arms Trade: Treaties

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what his policy is on the required (a) scope and (b) parameters of the proposed Arms Trade Treaty; [37684]

(2) what assessment he has made of the merits of including brokering activities within the scope of transfers regulated by the proposed Arms Trade Treaty; [37685]

(3) what assessment he has made of the merits of including small arms ammunition on the list of equipment to be regulated by the proposed Arms Trade Treaty. [37686]


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Alistair Burt: The Government are committed to securing a robust and effective arms trade treaty that meets its foreign policy priorities of safeguarding Britain's national security and building prosperity. The precise content of an arms trade treaty is currently the subject of a UN negotiation which concludes in 2012; the Government continue to develop their negotiating position ahead of the next Preparatory Committee meeting commencing on 28 February 2011; it is therefore not appropriate for me to specify the detail of the UK's negotiating position at this stage.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will include his plans for the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in his forthcoming Building Stability Overseas strategy. [37687]

Alistair Burt: The flow of illicit weapons into conflict affected and fragile states is an issue of significant concern. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence are currently consulting widely on the Building Stability Overseas Strategy, including with external experts and key partners, before confirming the final content.

British Overseas Territories

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what requirement there is on the Secretary of State to consider the effect on British Overseas Territories of legislation enacted by Parliament. [37511]

Mr Bellingham: There is no constitutional or statutory requirement on a Secretary of State to consider the effect of legislation enacted by Parliament on British Overseas Territories. However, as a matter of practice, at the time of drafting a Bill consideration is given to whether it: (i) should apply directly to the Overseas Territories; (ii) should contain a provision enabling it to be extended, modified as necessary, by Order in Council to them, or (iii) has no relevance to them and need not apply or have the possibility of future extension to them.

Legislation which does not apply directly or has not been extended by Order in Council to the Overseas Territories has no application to those territories.

Departmental Consultants

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department has spent on consultancy since May 2010. [34668]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) employs consultants only when the necessary skills are unavailable from permanent FCO staff. We apply a strict value for money test to all consultancy use in line with central Government guidelines.

The FCO spent £11.98 million on consultancy services between May and November 2010 (December 2010 data are not yet available). This was spent on practical projects to improve the FCO's global operations and provide better value for money for the taxpayer. It
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funded in particular the provision of the external technical expertise necessary to develop better IT systems and a more modern global estate. A significant proportion supported the Echo project, which is designed to deliver better and cheaper global IT services to the FCO and other Government Departments and save the taxpayer up to £90 million.

Diplomatic Service: Domestic Service

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many diplomatic missions to the UK have asserted diplomatic immunity against investigations of the (a) employment status and (b) immigration status of domestic staff in each of the last three years. [37739]

Mr Bellingham: We are not aware of any such case during the last three years.

Egypt: Politics and Government

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on (a) political unrest and (b) disruption of internet and mobile phone communications in Egypt; if he will discuss with his Egyptian counterpart the merits of facilitating peaceful protest and maintaining freedom of speech and assembly; and if he will make a statement. [37915]

Alistair Burt: We are gravely concerned by the ongoing political unrest in Egypt and condemn the violence that is taking place in Cairo. If the regime were shown to be sponsoring or tolerating this violence it would be completely unacceptable. The scenes underline the need for political reform and for that process to be accelerated.

Our embassy has been closely monitoring the situation, which has become increasingly dangerous with some areas of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez deteriorating into lawlessness. We regret the loss of life and continue to call for restraint on all sides. We have urged the Egyptian Government to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians and for demonstrators to be able to exercise their rights peacefully.

Restrictions on freedom of expression, including the closure of internet access and mobile phone services, have only fuelled the anger of demonstrators and we have called on the Egyptian Government to lift those restrictions urgently.

Iran: Baha'i Faith

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of Iran on the protection of human rights of people of the Baha'i faith in that country. [37587]

Alistair Burt: In 2010, I discussed human rights issues with the Iranian embassy on five occasions, including the unacceptable persecution of the Baha'is. Our embassy in Tehran also continues to raise this directly with the Iranian authorities, most recently on 12 December 2010.


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We will continue to remind Iran of the international commitments it has freely signed up to. We will also urge the Iranian Government to cease its harassment of the Baha'i minority and to respect the rights of other minority groups.

Kashmir

Craig Whittaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2010, Official Report, column 554W, on Kashmir, for what reasons his policy is that is not for the UK to mediate in seeking a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir. [37417]

Alistair Burt: We recognise the importance of finding a lasting solution to the situation in Kashmir but it is not for the UK to prescribe a solution nor to mediate in finding one. This has been the policy of successive British Governments and the history of the issue suggests it must be for India and Pakistan to resolve, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people without any mediation by the UK.

North Africa: Human Rights

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions his Department made representations to the governments of (a) Egypt, (b) Tunisia and (c) Algeria on human rights issues in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [37740]

Alistair Burt: The UK holds annual Strategic Dialogues with Egypt and Algeria at which a range of issues of concern to both sides are discussed, including human rights. Crucially, at the third Strategic Dialogue with Egypt this January, we raised our concerns about the 2010 parliamentary elections, in particular about media restrictions and cases of electoral irregularities. The issue of human rights also forms part of ongoing discussions between our embassies and the host Governments in the three countries concerned.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), addressed the issue during his visit to Egypt in November last year and I have personally raised the subject of human rights during my recent visits to Algeria and Tunisia as well as in my meeting with the Tunisian ambassador to London following his arrival in October 2010.

At the European level, the issue of human rights has been a core component of negotiations with Tunisia with respect to its application for advanced status with the EU.

The UK actively raises human rights concerns in the UN, including in the Human Rights Council. In the case of Egypt, the UK raised its concerns during the adoption of Egypt's Universal Periodic Review in June 2010.

Private Military and Security Companies: Regulation

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 16 November 2010, Official Report, column 59WS, on private military and
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security companies, what (a) process and (b) timetable he plans to follow to appoint a trade association to monitor and audit compliance of a UK code of conduct for private military and security companies; and (i) by what means and (ii) against what baseline he intends to review his policy two years after its implementation to assess whether standards have been raised. [37711]

Mr Bellingham: In December 2010, two trade associations submitted proposals to fulfil the role of monitoring and auditing compliance of national standards for the UK Private Military and Security Company industry. These have been reviewed by Whitehall officials and proposals will shortly be considered by National Security Council members and thereafter announced to this House. At that stage we will provide further details, including how we will monitor compliance with the national code of conduct and establish the baseline for the two-year policy review.

Treasury

Banks: Pay

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the level of executive remuneration in publicly-owned banks. [38096]

Mr Hoban: The Government have taken robust action to tackle unacceptable bonuses. Following agreement in the Capital Requirements Directive, measures taken include the revised Financial Services Authority (FSA) remuneration code, introduced on 1 January 2011 and covering all bonuses payable in the coming bonus round. Further, the new FSA remuneration disclosure rules were also introduced on 1 January 2011, with initial disclosures starting this year and covering remuneration paid in the 2010 financial year. In addition we have introduced the bank levy, higher capital and liquidity requirements, stronger resolution arrangements, the Independent Banking Commission and we continue to investigate the costs and benefits of a financial activities tax.

We have made it clear to the banks in which the Government have a stake that they should have a smaller bonus pool than last year and that they should be a back-marker in the industry.

Cycle to Work Scheme

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what mechanism other than monitoring take-up he evaluates the effectiveness of HM Revenue and Customs' cycle to work scheme. [38097]

Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs administers the tax relief available when employers offer cycle to work schemes. The effectiveness of the relief is monitored through contact with employers' and industry representatives and in discussion with officials from other Government Departments.

Excise Duties: Fuels

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what recent representations he has received on the differential between duty levels applied to petrol and diesel; and if he will make a statement; [37335]


3 Feb 2011 : Column 890W

(2) what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the fuel duty rates due to come into force on 1 April 2011 on road users in (a) rural areas and (b) England; and if he will make a statement. [37341]

Justine Greening: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 21 January 2011, Official Report, column 1001W, and to the answers given on 17 January 2011, Official Report, column 576W and 24 January 2011, Official Report, column 117W, to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr Bain)

The same rate of duty applies to petrol and diesel intended for road use.

Motorists are affected by a range of measures to tackle the deficit and support growth including fuel duty. In the June Budget the Government asked the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) to undertake an assessment of the effect of oil price fluctuations on the public finances. The OBR published its report on 14 September. The Government are considering the OBR's assessment.

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether implementation of his proposals to reform fuel duty will be revenue-neutral. [37560]

Justine Greening: Decisions about tax policy are a matter for the Chancellor as part of the Budget process.

Excise Duties: Wines

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the cost to the public purse of wine fraud in the latest period for which figures are available; and what recent steps he has taken to mitigate wine fraud. [37280]

Justine Greening [holding answer 31 January 2011]: No specific estimate is made of the level of fraud in wine. When the alcohol strategy was renewed last year it was extended to address all categories of alcoholic drinks and not just spirits, the only drinks covered by the previous strategy. In the first nine months from implementation of the renewed strategy HMRC and UKBA have seized over 1.8 million litres of illicit wine. The 'Tackling Alcohol Fraud' strategy which was implemented from 1 April 2010 addresses fraud in all alcoholic drinks including wine.

Financial Inclusion Fund: Halifax

Mrs Riordan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in Halifax have received assistance from the Financial Inclusion Fund in the last 12 months. [37103]

Mr Hoban: The Financial Inclusion Fund supports a number of different projects. Data from the projects are not reported in a way that allows us to measure the impact of every project in a specific area.

Data for the Financial Inclusion debt advice project show that, over a 12-month period (1 January to 31 December 2010), 139 debt advice clients were seen by debt advisers based in Halifax.


3 Feb 2011 : Column 891W

Data for the Financial Inclusion Growth Fund show that Calderdale Credit Union, which covers Halifax, made 2,494 affordable loans to the value of £1,601,065 over the same 12-month period.

The Government are working closely with the Consumer Financial Education Body (soon to be known as the Money Advice Service) to take a preventative approach-so that consumers can better manage their own finances and avoid getting into unsustainable debt. This includes creating Britain's first free national financial advice service, including an annual financial healthcheck.

Income Tax: Sunderland

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many residents of Sunderland were in each income tax band in the most recent year for which figures are available. [36412]

Mr Gauke: Estimates of the number of taxpayers in the local government district of Sunderland, categorised by their highest marginal tax rate for 2007-08, the latest year available, are provided in the following table.

Number of taxpayers in Sunderlan d
Tax year 2007-08 Number( 1)

Starting rate

17,000

Basic rate

120,000

Higher rate

8,000

All taxpayers

144,000

(1) Rounded to the nearest thousand
Notes:
1. Table shows number of taxpayers in the local government district of Sunderland by their highest marginal tax rate.
2. Estimates at each rate do not sum to the total due to rounding.
Source:
Survey of Personal Incomes, 2007-08
See:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/income_distribution/inc-distribution-note.pdf

Income Tax: Tax Rates and Bands

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will estimate the number of people in Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency who will no longer pay income tax as a result of the increase in the personal allowance from 5 April 2011; [38099]

(2) what estimate he has made of the change in the number of people paying income tax at the 40 per cent. rate with effect from 5 April 2011 in (a) Scotland, ( b) Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency and (c) each other parliamentary constituency. [38100]

Mr Gauke: In the June 2010 Budget, it was estimated that 880,000 persons would be taken out of tax in the United Kingdom as a result of the £1,000 increase in the personal allowance in 2011-12, of which an estimated 71,000 are in Scotland.

The number of taxpayers paying income tax at the 40 per cent rate in 2011-12 in Scotland is projected to be 281,000, an increase of 47,000 compared with the published projection for 2010-11 (available on the HMRC website at the following address):


3 Feb 2011 : Column 892W

These estimates are based on 2007-08 Survey of Personal Incomes data projected to 2010-11 and 2011-12 in line with the June 2010 Budget assumptions.

It not possible to produce reliable estimates for parliamentary constituencies due to small sample sizes at these levels of geography.

Loans

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the (a) number and (b) proportion of people who use payday loans in each (i) region, (ii) local authority and (iii) constituency. [37502]

Mr Davey: I have been asked to reply.

This Department collects information from the YouGov Debt Track survey on the number and proportion of people both using payday loans and those that have applied for payday loans in the last six months.

In October 2010, the most recent survey, it was estimated that less than 1% of the population currently had a payday loan and that approximately 0.5% had applied for a payday loan in the previous six months. The sample size of this survey (UK wide) is around 3,000-therefore it would be statistically unreliable to disaggregate the number of people who either hold or applied for a payday loan to a regional level (or beyond that, to local authority or constituency level).

Consumer Focus reviewed the payday loan market in 2010. They estimated that around 1.2 million adults took out a payday loan in 2009. They estimated the size of the market at £1.2 billion with each payday loan being worth on average £292.

Personal Savings

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has made a recent estimate of the (a) number and (b) proportion of people in each (i) region, (ii) local authority area and (iii) constituency who have no savings. [37507]

Mr Hoban: The Wealth and Assets Survey includes data on the distribution of net household financial wealth by region. Results for 2006-08, the latest year for which data are available, can be found in the Wealth in Great Britain: Main results report, by ONS. Data are not available for breakdowns at local authority and constituency levels within this report.

Sovereign Support Grant

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 18 January 2011, Official Report, column 756W, on the Sovereign Support Grant, whether he plans to introduce the primary legislation to establish the Sovereign Support Grant before the summer adjournment. [37309]

Justine Greening: I have nothing to add to my previous answer.


3 Feb 2011 : Column 893W

Deputy Prime Minister

Devolution

Mark Durkan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has for the future of the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations. [34289]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The Memorandum of Understanding was last updated in March 2010. It is kept under annual review by the Government and the devolved Administrations through the Joint Ministerial Committee on Devolution.

Electoral Register: Social Security Benefits

Guto Bebb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will assess the likely effects on the accuracy and completeness of the electoral register of requiring benefit claimants to be on the electoral register to be eligible for benefits. [37785]

Mr Harper: The Government have no current plans to conduct such an assessment. However, we are committed to speeding up the implementation of individual electoral registration and later this year as part of that we will be trialling data matching-comparing the electoral register against other public databases to find individuals missing from the register and allow EROs to encourage them to register. If these trials are successful we will roll data matching out nationally, which will improve the accuracy and completeness of the electoral register.

Ministerial Policy Advisers

Philip Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which staff he has appointed to advise him on strategy from outside the civil service since June 2010; and what their (a) areas of responsibility and (b) dates of appointment are. [37603]

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have appointed a number of special advisers who advise me on a range of issues including strategy. Details of these appointments are published on the Cabinet Office's website:

Work and Pensions

Departmental Telephone Services

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the average number of calls per (a) day, (b) week and (c) month to his Department's 0800 2888 777 number for contacting Atos in relation to work capability assessments. [37917]

Chris Grayling: Atos Healthcare has confirmed that the average number of inbound calls relating to work capability assessments are:


3 Feb 2011 : Column 894W

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff responsible for answering his Department's 0800 2888 777 number for contacting Atos in relation to work capability assessments were absent (a) on annual leave and (b) due to illness on 18 January 2011. [37918]

Chris Grayling: Atos Healthcare has confirmed that on 18 January 2011 there were:

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff are employed to answer his Department's 0800 2888 777 number for contacting Atos in relation to work capability assessments. [37920]

Chris Grayling: Atos Healthcare has confirmed that they currently have 64 staff which equates to 57 full time equivalent's employed in the activity on answering and making calls in the Virtual Contact Centre.

Employment Schemes: Alcoholic Drinks and Drugs

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether he plans to establish separate work programmes for those with a history of alcohol and drug misuse from 31 March 2011; [37981]

(2) if he will ensure that contractors for the Work Programme are required to achieve a minimum success rate for placing into work those with a history of alcohol and drug misuse. [37982]

Chris Grayling: This Government will offer every support for people to choose full recovery as an achievable way out of dependency-so that they get off drugs and alcohol for good.

Where appropriate, customers with a history of drug or alcohol dependency will receive personalised support through the Work Programme, the providers of which will need to work closely with the drug and alcohol treatment sector while demonstrating that they have the specialist expertise needed to deliver employment services to this group. In the interim the Government will ensure that adequate support is in place for customers to ensure a smooth transition to the Work Programme.

In addition, the Government are giving separate consideration as to how to most effectively support people in drug and alcohol treatment into sustained employment. In particular, it has set out its ambition to pilot the use of payment by results to incentivise the drug treatment system to improve the delivery of sustained recovery outcomes, which will include employment.

Minimum performance standards will apply to all Work Programme customer groups, including the groups for harder-to-help customers. However, there will be no specific minimum success rates for placing into work those customers with a history of drug and alcohol misuse.


3 Feb 2011 : Column 895W

Housing Benefit

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate was made of expenditure from the public purse on housing benefit in each year to 2015 as part of the (a) Autumn forecast and (b) June 2010 Budget forecast. [28744]

Steve Webb: The information requested is shown in the following table.

Housing benefit expenditure forecasts, Great Britain
£ million (nominal)

Autumn forecast (a) June 2010 Budget (b)

2010-11

21,477

21,536

2011-12

22,002

21,928

2012-13

22,022

21,830

2013-14

21,361

21,220

2014-15

21,912

21,909

2015-16

22,553

22,432

Notes:
1.Housing benefit figures include that element funded from local authorities' own funds.
2. The Department's detailed benefit expenditure tables, including forecasts to 2015, published following the Office for Budget Responsibility's publication of their autumn forecasts on 29 November 2010 can be found at:
http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/index.php?page=expenditure
Earlier forecasts (including June 2010 Budget) can also be found at the same address.

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which local authorities have been working with his Department on the simplification of housing benefit letters to claimants. [34059]

Steve Webb: The Department has been working with a number of local authorities to make letters that inform customers of housing benefit and council tax benefit decisions easier to understand. The authorities are Bradford metropolitan district council, Chelmsford borough council, Eastbourne borough council, Elmbridge borough council, Great Yarmouth borough council, Leicester city council and Wolverhampton city council. The results of this work will be publicised to all local authorities.

Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people will be affected by the proposal to cap housing benefit for working age tenants in the social rented sector based on family size in (a) Erith and Thamesmead constituency, (b) Greater London and (c) in total. [38175]

Steve Webb: Impact assessments, which will include the number of households affected, will be published at the usual time to accompany the relevant legislation when introduced in Parliament.

Housing Benefit: Brent

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with housing officers at the London borough of Brent on the anticipated changes in the number of homeless families as a result of the changes to housing benefit rates. [37041]


3 Feb 2011 : Column 896W

Steve Webb: We have not discussed the impact of the 2011 changes to local housing allowance rates independently with the London borough of Brent. We have however planned a series of the conferences for all local authority housing benefit managers to provide them with information about the changes in 2011. These events will promote awareness of the toolkit of products, including detailed guidance, we will be providing for local authorities. To reduce the risk of households becoming homeless we have a substantial package of financial and practical support in place, worth £190 million over the spending review period. We are giving existing customers up to nine months' transitional protection so that they have time to look for alternative accommodation if they need to.

We are also widening local authority discretion to pay housing benefit direct to the landlord if it would help the customer secure a new tenancy or remain in their current home at a reduced rent.

Jobcentre Plus: Internet

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to ensure that information provided on Jobcentre Plus websites is up-to-date and accurate. [37916]

Chris Grayling: A key priority for the Department around the provision of customer information is to ensure that it is both accurate and up-to-date across both online and offline channels.

The information on departmental websites, including Directgov since the Jobcentre Plus website closed, is subject to the Accuracy of Information framework. This framework is audited by the Department's Risk Assurance Division (RAD) who seek assurance from the nominated Senior Responsible Office (SRO) within the Department that information is correct. The Department, in turn, seeks assurance from the businesses, including Jobcentre Plus, that information is correct.

The Department's content on Directgov is reviewed annually, or more frequently if, for example, a policy changes. The review process requires the owner of the policy to confirm the accuracy of the information developed by them, or in collaboration with them, before it is published on Directgov. Responsibility for obtaining this assurance rests with DWP Communications.

Content on Businesslink is also reviewed by policy owners at least once a year or more frequently if, for example, a policy changes.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 4 November 2010, Official Report, columns 936-37W, on social security benefits: fraud, how many of the calls received by the National Benefit Fraud Helpline and passed to (a) the Fraud Investigation Service and (b) Customer Compliance in each of the last five years were dealt with and closed within (i) 0 to four weeks, (ii) one to two months, (iii) two to four months, (iv) four to six months, (v) six to eight months, (vi) eight to 10 months, (vii) 10 to 12 months, (viii) more than one year, (ix) more than 15 months and (x) more than two years. [38174]

Chris Grayling: The information requested is not available.


3 Feb 2011 : Column 897W

State Retirement Pensions

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to publish a Green Paper on the proposed single tier state pension. [37913]

Steve Webb: The Government are currently examining all aspects of state pension to identify options that could lead to a more simple and straightforward system. Final decisions have not yet been made.

Any proposals for reforming the system will be subject to consultation.

State Retirement Pensions: Uprating

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on the proposed change in the indexation of the state pension from retail prices index to consumer prices index. [37925]

Steve Webb: The Department has received a number of such representations.

In response to a request for evidence on the suitability of the Consumer Prices Index for measuring pensioner inflation, I have placed in the Libraries copies of a paper "Analysis of the relative suitability of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) and the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) for reflecting cost of living increases for pensioners".

Although the indexation of additional state pension will change from the RPI to the CPI, this year we propose that the basic state pension is increased in line with the RPI, and thereafter by the highest of the CPI, average earnings, or 2.5%.

Telereal Trillium

Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many contracts his Department has with Telereal Trillium; and what the monetary value is of all contracts his Department has with Telereal Trillium. [37902]

Chris Grayling: The Department has one contract with Telereal Trillium, a 20 year PFI contract in 1998 for the provision of fully fitted and serviced accommodation for which the Department pays an all inclusive unitary charge. The spend through this contract was £782,949,478 in 2009-10.

The scope of the services provided by Telereal Trillium include the provision of all accommodation occupied by DWP, and the services encompass building maintenance, life cycle works, energy/utilities management and environment, internal re-organisation and churn, porterage, security, health and safety, furniture and equipment, catering/security facilities and equipment, catering, waste management, internal and external cleaning, room booking service, and landscape maintenance.

Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints his Department has received from landlords whose properties are managed through a contract between his Department and Telereal Trillium in the latest period for which figures are available. [37903]


3 Feb 2011 : Column 898W

Chris Grayling: The information requested is not recorded centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Winter Fuel Payments

Paul Maynard: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to review the September qualifying deadline for the £400 winter fuel payment for those turning 80 years old with a view to moving it to later in the year. [37830]

Steve Webb: The qualifying week is set in legislation as the third full week in September. We use this date so that we can establish entitlement, undertake the necessary checks and make payments before Christmas. The Government believe that making payments by Christmas every year is helpful in reassuring pensioners that they will have money available to pay for heating their homes during the coldest part of the year. We have no plans to change the qualifying week.

Work Capability Assessment

David T. C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will implement Professor Harrington's recommendations relating to the work capability assessment in full. [37854]

Chris Grayling: We welcome the first independent review of the WCA, led by Professor Malcolm Harrington. This is a thorough review that has reviewed a substantial amount of evidence. As a result, Professor Harrington has come forward with a wide range of far reaching and challenging proposals which the Government fully support.

We are committed to taking forward the review's recommendations so that we can make the system fairer and more effective. The Government response to Professor Harrington's review sets out how and when we will implement the recommendations of the review, almost all of which will be in place in time for the national roll-out of the incapacity benefits reassessment programme.

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training is provided to staff responsible for the medical assessment of applicants for employment and support allowance. [37919]

Chris Grayling: The four stages of the training and approval process for health care professionals are:

During the period of provisional approval, the health care professional's trainer will assess all reports completed by the health care professional until his or her competence is assured.


3 Feb 2011 : Column 899W

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions a Jobcentre Plus decision-maker did not follow the advice of an approved health care professional when making a decision on an individual's eligibility for employment and support allowance in the latest period for which figures are available. [37924]

Chris Grayling: Employment and support allowance (ESA) was introduced in October 2008. A key factor in determining eligibility for ESA is the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA is carried out by health care professionals employed by Atos Healthcare. A report of the WCA is then sent to Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus decision makers (JCP DMs) have to consider all the available information before making a decision on benefit entitlement. Any additional evidence provided by a customer's GP or consultant is important and is fully considered as part of this process.

The Department therefore holds information on both the recommendation made by Atos Healthcare at assessment and separate information on the JCP DM's final decision. We can determine where the decision differs but not why the decision was changed or whether a case was returned for reconsideration. Where the final JCP DM decision differs to the original Atos recommendation we refer to the decision being a result of 'at reconsideration' which may or not involve a return of the case to Atos.

The number of people for whom Atos recommended they be placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and the Support Group (SG) and additional people who were placed in the WRAG or SG based on the JCP DM decision is presented in the following table. Please note that the impact of appeals is not included.


3 Feb 2011 : Column 900W
Table 1: ATOS recommendations of placement in the ESA Work Related Activity Group and additional people placed in the ESA Work Related Activity Group at rec onsideration by Jobcentre Plus decision m aker
Number
Claim start month WRAG- based on ATOS r ecommendation Additional people placed in WRAG at reconsideration by JCP DM

2008

October

1,200

80

November

5,700

370

December

5,420

330

2009

January

7,450

460

February

6,920

450

March

8,050

580

April

7,750

600

May

7,820

580

June

8,480

690

July

8,690

740

August

8,120

710

September

8,840

840

October

8,160

860

November

7,900

780

December

6,850

660

2010

January

8,800

830

February

8,300

700

March

8,670

700

April

8,020

690

May

7,110

620

Total

148,270

12,230


Table 2: ATOS recommendations of placement in the ESA Support Group and additional people placed in the ESA Support Group at reconsideration by Jobcentre Plus decision maker
Number
Claim start month SG-based on ATOS recommendation Additiona l people moved to SG- at reconsideration

2008

October

670

40

November

2,670

250

December

2,440

240

2009

January

2,960

300

February

2,660

300

March

3,000

340

April

2,900

320

May

2,970

330

June

3,040

370

July

3,480

350

August

3,030

340

September

3,430

320

October

2,950

350

November

3,030

320

December

2,660

280

2010

January

3,040

290

February

2,810

260

March

3,150

290

April

2,950

250

May

2,680

230

Total

56,480

5,770


Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many work capability assessment claim closures there have been in each month since October 2008. [37932]

Chris Grayling: The following table lists all outcomes from initial work capability assessments (WCA) nationally, for employment and support allowance claims starting in the months shown. This table is taken from the published official statistics report "ESA: Work Capability Assessment Statistical Release January 2011". The "Claim closed before assessment complete" column shows all new claims for ESA that were closed before the WCA process was completed.

The Department has commissioned qualitative research into ended ESA claims, which will include interviews with a sample of people whose claim was closed by Jobcentre Plus before they completed assessment for ESA. A report of this research will be published in the DWP research report series in spring 2011.


3 Feb 2011 : Column 901W

3 Feb 2011 : Column 902W
Monthly ESA on-flows by month of claim start and result of initial functional assessment
Support group Work related activity group Fit for Work Claim closed before assessment complete Assessment still in progress Total
Month of claim start N o. % N o. % N o. % N o. % N o. % N o. %

October 2008

700

8

1,200

13

3,600

39

3,700

40

100

1

9,300

100

November 2008

2,900

6

5,900

13

17,500

39

18,200

41

200

1

44,800

100

December 2008

2,700

7

5,600

14

15,200

38

16,600

41

200

1

40,300

100

January 2009

3,200

6

7,700

15

21,000

39

21,000

39

300

1

53,300

100

February 2009

2,900

6

7,200

15

19,800

40

19,200

39

400

1

49,500

100

March 2009

3,300

6

8,400

15

23,500

41

20,900

37

500

1

56,700

100

April 2009

3,200

6

8,200

16

21,800

42

18,800

36

500

1

52,400

100

May2009

3,300

6

8,200

15

22,000

41

19,100

36

400

1

53,100

100

June 2009

3,400

6

9,000

16

22,700

40

21,200

37

' 600

1

56,800

100

July 2009

3,800

7

9,300

16

22,800

40

21,200

37

700

1

57,700

100

August 2009

3,300

6

8,700

17

20,400

40

18,600

36

600

1

51,600

100

September 2009

3,700

7

9,500

17

21,800

39

19,400

35

800

2

55,300

100

October 2009

3,300

6

8,900

17

21,200

40

18,900

36

1,100

2

53,300

100

November 2009

3,300

6

8,500

16

20,500

39

18,600

36

1,300

2

52,300

100

December 2009

2,900

7

7,400

17

16,800

38

16,100

36

1,300

3

44,500

100

January 2010

3,300

6

9,500

17

21,900

39

20,100

35

1,900

3

56,700

100

February 2010

3,100

6

8,900

16

21,400

39

18,700

34

2,500

5

54,500

100

March 2010

3,400

6

9,200

15

23,100

39

20,400

34

3,500

6

59,700

100

April 2010

3,200

6

8,600

16

20,300

37

18,200

34

4,100

8

54,300

100

May 2010

2,900

6

7,600

15

18,700

36

17,700

34

5,700

11

52,500

100

Total

61,800

6

157,600

16

396,100

39

366,600

36

26,500

3

1,008,600

100

Source:
Benefit claims data held by the Department for Work and Pensions and functional assessment data sourced from Atos Healthcare.

The Department regularly publishes official statistics on ESA and the WCA, the latest report was published in January 2011. Further information is available in the report which can be found on the internet at the following link:

Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people who made a claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) and who were found fit for work at assessment have had an appeal heard by the Tribunals Service in each month since ESA assessments began; [37934]

(2) what proportion of people who have undergone a work capability assessment have been found fit to work at appeal in each month since October 2008. [37931]

Chris Grayling: Information on the number of people who are found fit for work, who then appeal the decision at a hearing with Ministry of Justice and the result of the appeal is published. The full publication can be found here:

Table 3 of the publication which relates specifically to fit for work decisions and appeals is reproduced as follows:

WCA appeals heard on 'Fit for Work' decision (initial assessments only)
Month of claim start Fit for Work Appeals heard(to date) Percentage fit for work with an appeal heard (to date) Decision in favour of appellant DWP decision upheld Percentage decision in favour of appellant DWP decision upheld

October 2008

3,600

1,500

41

600

900

40

60

November 2008

17,500

7,200

41

2,800

4,400

40

60

December 2008

15,200

6,400

42

2,700

3,800

41

59

January 2009

21,000

8,900

42

3,600

5,300

40

60

February 2009

19,800

8,100

41

3,300

4,800

41

59

March 2009

23,500

9,400

40

3,800

5,500

41

59

April 2009

21,800

8,300

38

3,400

4,900

41

59

May 2009

22,000

8,000

36

3,200

4,800

40

60

June 2009

22,700

7,600

33

3,100

4,500

41

59

July 2009

22,800

7,100

31

2,700

4,300

39

61

August 2009

20,400

5,600

28

2,200

3,500

39

61

September 2009

21,800

5,300

24

2,000

3,300

37

63

October 2009

21,200

4,100

19

1,400

2,600

35

65

November 2009

20,500

2,800

14

900

2,000

31

69

Total

273,900

90,300

33

35,800

54,600

40

60


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