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Employment Service Estate

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The arrangement negotiated with Land Securities Trillium as part of the expanded PRIME contract allows the department a flexible approach to the way it can vacate its surplus property without additional cost. In total 228,000m 2 can be vacated on this basis. This has been profiled in the medium term to reflect the requirements of the department's Estate Strategy and it is not possible therefore to provide an estimate for each year up to 2018.

The Valuation Office was instructed to value the former Employment Services estate on the basis of vacant possession as this is the way in which Land

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Securities Trillium was asked to price its bid and because the investment value of the department's occupation during the term of the contract is reflected in the unitary charge that DWP will pay Land Securities Trillium for occupying space.

It is not possible to publish information in relation to the value for money calculations, as this remains commercial in confidence at the current time. The National Audit Office is carrying out an independent scrutiny and its report is due to be published in spring 2004.

The department has sought to obtain the best value from the way it received payment for its properties. It was found that a capital receipt of £100 million from Land Securities Trillium, with the balance of the property values used to reduce the ongoing unitary charge payments, provided us with the optimum value for money solution.

Disabled People: Unemployment

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost of supporting unemployed disabled people.[HL5526]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It is not possible to give a figure on the total cost of supporting unemployed disabled people as many of the costs are not separately identifiable.

However, in 2002–03 we spent £100 million on benefits for disabled people who were seeking work.


    1. Expenditure has been estimated by use of benefits administrative data held by DWP. For Jobseekers Allowance and Disability Living Allowance, this is a 5 per cent sample, for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit this is a 1 per cent sample.

    Notes: 1. Unemployment is defined as receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, and disabled as receipt of the disability premium within JSA.

    2. Expenditure refers to program spend only; administrative expenditure isn't included. The Expenditure for 2002–03 reflects the latest benefit-by-benefit estimate of outturn for the year and not the amounts voted by Parliament.

    3. Amount shown is in cash terms, and rounded to the nearest £5 million.

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of those registered as disabled people who are unemployed suffer from a mental illness.[HL5527]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Labour Force Survey (Summer 2003) indicates that there are 580,000 people of working age (16 to State Pension Age), who report that they are DDA disabled and have a mental health condition as their main health problem, in Great Britain.

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Of these, 20 per cent (representing about 110,000 people) were in work and 470,000 are not employed.

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have conducted any research into the number of unemployed disabled people who could benefit from a training course.[HL5528]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: No research has been conducted specifically into the number of unemployed disabled people who could benefit from a training course.

We have a wide range of programmes, including Work Based Learning for Adults, which offer support in helping disabled people secure work where they are ready and able to do so. Jobcentre Plus advisory services and the specialist programmes are available irrespective of benefit (if any) claimed.

Mobile Telephone Numbers: Comprehensive Directory

Lord Elton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 29 October (WA 41), why the letter from the Director General of Telecommunications at Oftel was not published in the Official Report with that Answer in the customary manner; and whether they will arrange for it to be published with their Answer to this Question.[HL5359]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Director General of Telecommunications at Oftel has now written to Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, and I have arranged for his letter to be published in the Official Report with this Answer.

Letter from the Director General of Telecommunications at Oftel, dated 12 November 2003. Mobile Telephone Numbers: Comprehensive Directory

You asked a question in the House of Lords on 29 October 2003 on the subject of mobile telephone numbers and their presence in a universal database. Lord Sainsbury has asked me to respond directly to you as your question is in relation to an issue that falls under my responsibilities as Director General of Telecommunications.

At present there is one "universal" database of UK telephone numbers. The universal database is maintained by a stand-alone unit of BT and is known as OSIS (the Operator Services Information System). OSIS contains the details of fixed as well as mobile numbers, and is available to directory enquiry service providers on a cost-orientated basis.

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Some mobile telephone numbers are currently available via OSIS and there is a manual process to allow those consumers who wish to have a listing to be added. (Consumers can of course choose to be ex-directory, whether they have a mobile or a fixed telephone.)

I understand that, at present, BT and the mobile operators are working on the automated process necessary to ensure that mobile telephone numbers can be easily transferred to OSIS. Once these discussions are complete, it is likely that general mobile data will be available in early 2004 although, as I mentioned above, a consumer can have their data inputted on to OSIS at present via a manual system.

However, I should stress that, whilst the industry negotiations thus far have proceeded positively, they do involve complex issues, including the consideration of key matters such as cost recovery, therefore there is a possibility of a dispute being brought to my attention.

Under the General Conditions of Entitlement, Communications Providers (including mobile providers) must provide their subscribers directory data on terms that are fair and cost-orientated and in a format agreed between the two parties. If BT and any of the mobile operators fail to reach agreement on, for example, the cost of this data or the format in which it is supplied, then Oftel or (after 29 December 2003) Ofcom will be called on to formally resolve their dispute. As you are aware, Ofcom will take on its responsibilities on 29 December and will aim to resolve any dispute submitted to it within 4 months.

I am copying this to Lord Sainsbury of Turville.

Credit Cards: Annual Percentage Rates of Interest

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why no voluntary agreement has been reached between the credit card industry, the Office of Fair Trading and the Department of Trade and Industry on a single method of calculating annual interest percentage rates.[HL5408]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government are working closely with the Office of Fair Trading and the Association for Payment Clearing Services, which represents the credit card industry, to agree a set of assumptions that can be used for the calculation of annual percentage rates on credit cards. This will enable consumers to make a better comparison of different credit card offers.

At present card issuers make different assumptions and all parties are agreed that the current situation is unsatisfactory and needs to be resolved. It is the Government's intention to publish draft regulations later this year as part of their White Paper on the reform of the Consumer Credit Act which will provide a single method of calculating an annual percentage rate for a credit card.

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