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To ask Her Majesty's Government in what circumstances child benefit is legally regarded as the income of (1) one parent, (2) both parents, (3) one parent and a third party, and (4) a third party or parties.[HL15504]
Child benefit is paid to the person who has responsibility for the child or young person and who meets the conditions of entitlement. This can be by having the child or young person living with them, or by contributing to the cost of providing for them by an amount equivalent to the weekly rate of child benefit.
Only one person can be in receipt of child benefit. If more than one person makes a claim for the same child, entitlement will be determined by the rules of priority set out in the legislation; for example the person with whom the child lives will have priority over someone who is contributing to the child's upkeep and a parent would have priority over a non-parent.
A person entitled to child benefit can choose to have their benefit paid into a bank account in their name, a joint account with their partner, or a person acting on their behalf. Whichever payment option is chosen, the benefit is treated as being properly paid to the person who is entitled to it.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what safeguards are in place to ensure that the additional £20 million disabled facilities grant funding, announced on 3 January, is spent on home adaptations.[HL15441]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The disabled facilities grant is a statutory entitlement administered by local housing authorities. This extra funding brings the total disabled facilities grant to £200 million for 2011-12. The funding is un-ring-fenced, which provides local authorities with greater freedom and flexibility in delivering adaptations and the ability to commission services more innovatively.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to address the concerns in the National Audit Office report on Delivering the Free Entitlement to Education for Three- and Four Year-olds about the wide variations in take-up between local authorities.[HL15459]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure that families of three- and four-year-olds from the most disadvantaged families take up their entitlement to free childcare.[HL15460]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The National Audit Office (NAO) report on delivering the free entitlement to education for three and four year-olds noted that, nationally, take-up of the free entitlement is high at 95 per cent overall (93 per cent for three year-olds).
Take-up figures are derived from comparing the actual number of children accessing the free entitlement in each local authority area with Office for National Statistics estimates of the child population in each area. These estimates suggest that take-up of early education among three and four year-olds varies across local authorities. The NAO report states that this variation ranges from 77 per cent to 117 per cent of the eligible children in each area taking up their free entitlement. Children accessing the free entitlement are counted in the area where they attend nursery, rather than in the area they live. This means some local authorities achieve take-up rates of more than 100 per cent.
Reasons for this variability include: cross-border movements potentially influenced by parental employment arrangements and the location of childcare providers; parents opting out of free early education in more affluent areas; and changes in demographics since the 2001 population census.
National research, based on the annual childcare and early years survey of parents, shows that the 5 per cent of children not taking up free early education are disproportionately from multiply disadvantaged families.
The Government are committed to extending free early education to around 40 per cent of two year-olds from 2014, which we expect to lead to increased take-up of early education at age three. Sure Start children's centres, in particular, will have a key role to play in identifying and supporting disadvantaged children to access early education places.
New funding arrangements which we introduced from April 2010 required every local authority to include a mandatory deprivation supplement in their Early Years Single Funding Formula. The intention
16 Feb 2012 : Column WA175
We have recently consulted on a more rigorous and consistent way of ensuring that only higher quality providers deliver free early education. The consultation proposed a new basket of quality measures that local authorities should use to determine which providers are eligible to deliver free early education places. This new basket of quality measures, and Ofsted's commitment to making inspection reports more accessible, should improve information for parents and help them to choose better quality early education provision for their children.
Staff qualifications and pedagogy are vital in improving the quality of all early years settings. The new early years foundation stage, to be introduced from September 2012, reflects the skills and teaching practices needed to raise the quality of early years provision and to support all children to be ready for school, particularly those who need the most help.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they have provided to the Family and Parenting Institute and for what purposes; and whether any such funding has been spent on lobbying Government. [HL15298]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department has given a total of £9 million funding to the National Family and Parenting Institute in financial years 2010-11 and to date in 2011-12.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 dated 30 March 2011 to HM Treasury concerning contact between Treasury Ministers and officials and representatives of WPP has not been answered. [HL15676]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The request of 30 March 2011 was answered on 3 May 2011, citing Section 43(2), and claiming more time under the Freedom of Information Act to assess the public interest factors associated with the information in question. A final reply was issued on 27 September 2011, setting out the Treasury's decision to uphold the exemption and refuse release. The internal review, which was sought at the end of October, has been completed today and a letter has been sent to the noble Lord.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many opinion polls have been carried out for the Department for Education in the past two years; on what issues each poll was conducted, and when; what was the cost of each poll; and how many people were polled. [HL15531]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will list any individuals in HM Treasury or nominated by HM Treasury or Ministers in that department who hold posts remunerated on the basis of at least 100 days' work per annum and who are paid through a company for their services, with the pay band in each case.[HL15590]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested will form part of an urgent Treasury review of the tax arrangements of public sector appointments. The review will report to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury by the end of March 2012. The results of the review will be provided to the Public Accounts Committee, and placed in the House of Commons Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what, for the most recent available year, was the average gross value added per head in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, each of the regions of England, and the United Kingdom; and whether the disparity between the richest and poorest regions is in line with the Government's economic policy.[HL15646]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Average gross value added per head in the United Kingdom, the English regions, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for 2010 is estimated by the Office for National Statistics as follows:
|Per head (£)|
Economic development policy is devolved. In England the Government are supporting regional growth by introducing 24 new enterprise zones where all business rates will be retained by local enterprise partnerships for re-investment; making 100 per cent capital allowances available in six enterprise zones; allocating £1.4 billion of investment through the regional growth fund (with a further £1 billion allocated by the Chancellor at the Autumn Statement); and providing £500 million to local enterprise partnerships through the growth places fund.
Following the local government resource review we are also working on introducing a business rates retention scheme, which would enable local authorities which succeed in growing their local economy to get a direct boost to their income.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are being taken to improve the management of the quality of life of people with long-term conditions, such as chronic pain, through the quality and outcomes framework.[HL15500]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government will hold the National Health Service to account for improving patient outcomes as specified in the NHS outcomes framework. The second domain of the framework relates to improvements in the quality of life of people with long-term conditions such as chronic pain. Pain is one of the five dimensions of the overarching indicator used to assess improvements in this domain.
To ask the Chairman of Committees what facilities are in place to collect waste paper in House of Lords offices; what is the estimated proportion of members and staff using these facilities; and what proportion of waste paper collected is recycled. [HL15583]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Paper is collected from offices using a two-bin system whereby dry recyclable materials such as paper and cardboard are collected separately from other general office waste. Dedicated paper and cardboard recycling bins are also available in photocopying areas throughout the House. It is not possible to estimate the proportion of Members and staff who use these facilities.
Where possible, paper that is mixed through with general office waste is segregated by the House's waste collection contractor. All paper and cardboard that can be segregated is recycled. Any paper that cannot be segregated is disposed of as general waste and is incinerated to generate energy. No paper or cardboard is sent to landfill.
To ask the Chairman of Committees what is the additional cost resulting from the discrepancy in the dates of the February Recess between the House of Commons and the House of Lords in relation to (1) security, (2) catering, (3) administration, and (4) maintenance and engineering.[HL15657]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): No additional cost to the House of Lords Administration will arise from the difference in dates of the February Recess between the two Houses, under any of the four headings referred to.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department of Health, the National Health Service or the NHS Litigation Authority have made any estimate of the costs or savings to them of the Government's current legislative proposals on legal aid; and, if so, what those estimates are.[HL15503]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department believes that the potential effect on the National Health Service of removing clinical negligence from the scope of legal aid will be cost-neutral.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 6 February (WA 16), how many self-employed Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are exempt from paying tax and national insurance contributions, having been issued by HM Revenue and Customs with small earnings exemption certificates confirming that they are not required to pay as their earnings are below the tax and national insurance threshold; what evidence of earnings under £5315 is required; and what are the nationality and employment or earnings criteria that would prevent entitlement to housing benefit.[HL15612]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Self-employed persons with small earnings (less than £5,315 in the 2011-12 tax year) are eligible to apply for an exception from paying class 2 NICs. The small earnings exception (SEE) does not apply for tax purposes and whether tax is payable depends on there being business profits, or other income, which exceed the personal allowance.
Based on a 3 per cent sample of the national insurance and PAYE service computer system, HMRC estimates that there are approximately 500 Bulgarian and 1,300 Romanian nationals with SEE. As with UK nationals, when they first commence their business, a person is initially able to self-assess their anticipated earnings. Once the business is established, the claim to SEE may be the subject of risk-based checks, using accounts information supplied by the worker and sources of information available to HMRC, including the self assessment tax return.
Housing benefit provides help with rental costs for people who are out of work or who are working but on low incomes. There are no employment or earnings criteria which prevent entitlement. A person can qualify for housing benefit if their income and capital are below a certain level. That level is calculated on a case-by-case basis by comparing their income and capital to their personal allowance (correctly known as an applicable amount). The applicable amount takes into account the size and circumstances of the claimant's household (for example, the number of children, whether someone is disabled, etc).
Sixty five per cent of any income that exceeds their applicable amount is deducted from their eligible rent and the balance, if there is any, is their benefit entitlement. Anyone of working age who has more than £16,000 in savings will not qualify for housing benefit.
Anyone claiming housing benefit must satisfy the habitual residence test, which includes having a right to reside and being habitually resident in the common travel area (the UK, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the Republic of Ireland).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the statutory responsibilities of (1) a primary care trust board, (2) a primary care trust cluster board, (3) a strategic health authority board, and (4) a strategic health authority cluster board.[HL15501]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Primary care trusts (PCTs) have a number of statutory responsibilities (which are, in practice, the responsibility of the PCT board). These include a responsibility:to secure the provision of certain health services for the population registered with general practitioner practices in the PCT's area, and to secure other specified services for all persons present in the PCT's area, within the resources delegated by Parliament;regarding emergency planning to work with other appropriate authorities (e.g. police and local authorities);to engage and involve the public and stakeholders in the planning of services and to consult formally on changes in service provision; andto comply with the Nolan principles, standing financial instructions and have robust internal controls and governance.
Bringing PCTs and SHAs together into clusters is a tool to protect management capacity and make sure PCTs and SHAs are able to maintain performance and carry out their statutory functions during the transition. However, PCTs and SHAs still exist as legal entities and their boards retain all their statutory responsibilities until, subject to parliamentary approval, they are abolished in 2013.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria are used by the National Health Service in deciding upon the employment of non-medical consultants; and how their rates of remuneration are determined. [HL15468]
|Management Consultancy expenditure 2006-07 to 2010-11|
|2010-11 £000s||2009-10 £000s||2008-09 £000s||2007-08 £000s||2006-07 £000s|
There are national frameworks in place by the Government Procurement Service for non-medical non-clinical staff; this includes white and blue collar roles and frameworks for management consultancy which are in place for government departments and the wider public sector including health.
A spreadsheet can be accessed at the following website which indicates band and range. This does not include the agency charges: http://www.buyingsolutions. gov.uk/services/ResourcingServices/resourcing solutionshealth/nonmedicalnonclinical.
The NHS Trust Model Standing Orders, Reservation and Delegation of Powers and Standing Financial Instructions document states, under paragraph 17 on tendering and contracting procedures, that the procurement procedures used shall demonstrate that the award of the contract was that best value for money was achieved.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are 151 primary care trusts (PCTs) in England which are grouped into 50 clusters. The mean size of each PCT, in terms of the population they serve, is 348,570. The mean size of each PCT cluster, in terms of the population they serve, is 1,052,683.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government do not hold figures for the prevalence of parental alienation syndrome. We do however recognise the potential for lasting emotional harm if one parent turns their child against the other parent. The Government's response to the family justice review sets out a range of reforms to the private law system that should help to limit the consequences arising from disputes between separated parents. Support to help parents focus on the needs of their children and resolve their own disputes will be backed by a legislative statement reinforcing the principle that most children benefit from a continuing relationship with both parents. We will also look carefully at how the enforcement of court orders can be swifter and more effective.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of the United Kingdom population are estimated to live in (1) Scotland, (2) Wales, (3) Northern Ireland, and (4) England; and what was the percentage of inward foreign investment in the most recent year for which figures are available into each of those four nations.[HL15615]
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what percentage of the United Kingdom population are estimated to live in (1) Scotland. (2) Wales. (3) Northern Ireland, and (4) England, and what was the percentage of inward foreign investment in the most recent year for which figures are available into each of those four nations (HL15615).
Table 1 shows the percentage of the usually resident population of the UK estimated to live in each of the four UK constituent countries in mid-2010. These are the latest available population estimates
|Table 1: Percentage of UK population resident in UK constituent countries, mid-2010|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): While most local authorities provide public toilets, they have no duty to do so. Public toilets are provided by a range of organisations including local councils, transport operators and the private sector. In addition, many local authorities are taking positive steps to enhance public access to toilets in their area through approaches like community toilet schemes, where local shops and businesses receive a small fee for allowing free access to their toilets.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The issue of asbestos in schools is being managed through the joint actions of Partnerships for Schools and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with the advice of the department's Asbestos in Schools Steering Group.
In January, the HSE issued advice and guidance on asbestos management in schools based on its recent inspections. The HSE is also gathering intelligence to see whether further inspections of schools are necessary.
In September this year the department will launch an asbestos awareness-raising website and e-learning modules for head teachers, governors and school staff. As well as training, the website will allow schools and local authorities to share good practice and documentation in respect of asbestos management.
Last year the department asked the Committee on Carcinogenicity to look at the relative vulnerability of children to low-level asbestos exposure. This will be the first such assessment as previous assessments have been for adults exposed to high exposure levels. We will review our policy on asbestos management and our advice to schools when we receive its report.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are any restrictions or external controls on the selection of the teaching content of the courses given in a satellite school, and selection of the teaching staff, by the established grammar school. [HL15208]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Section 39 EIA 2006 and S104 SSFA effectively mean there can be no new maintained schools with selective admission arrangements and we have not proposed any changes to that legislation. The Academies Act 2010 only provides for existing grammar schools to convert to academy status and does not allow any new selective academies to be established.
The school admissions code, which came into force on 1 February, gives greater freedom to all schools to expand, including for those schools that are their own admission authority (foundation schools, voluntary aided schools, academies and trust schools). It is possible for an existing maintained grammar school or academy
16 Feb 2012 : Column WA185
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from the Northern Ireland Executive with regard to the devolution of corporation tax-levying powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.[HL15544]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from the Government of the Republic of Ireland about the proposal to devolve corporation tax-levying powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.[HL15547]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have established a figure for the annual yield of corporation tax from Northern Ireland; and, if so, what that figure is for the last three financial years. [HL15549]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government published a consultation document Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy on 24 March 2011. This considered a number of options, including the potential to devolve corporation tax rate-setting powers to the Northern Ireland Executive.
Estimates of the annual yield of corporation tax for Northern Ireland were included in paragraph 4.35 of this document. The value of corporation tax receipts in Northern Ireland in 2009-10 is estimated at around £465 million. As set out in the consultation document, the analysis implies that Northern Ireland corporation tax receipts excluding North Sea oil and gas, and also excluding branches, varied between 1.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent of UK corporation tax receipts between 2002-03 and 2007-08, broadly averaging 1.5 per cent. In 2008-09, the Northern Ireland tax base dipped to 1.1 per cent of UK corporation tax receipts.
The Government have subsequently announced the establishment of a joint ministerial working group, comprising Ministers of the Her Majesty's Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to consider issues raised by the consultation.
A comprehensive programme of work has been agreed, aimed at examining in greater detail issues relating to the potential devolution to the Northern Ireland Assembly of powers to vary the rate of corporation tax.
This includes further work on: the potential costs to the Northern Ireland block grant of a reduction in corporation tax beyond those estimates already published in the consultation document; and the need to ensure that any proposal to devolve corporation tax powers is compliant with the Azores judgment of the European Court of Justice. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has discussed this ongoing work with colleagues in the Irish Government.
No decision has yet been made on whether to devolve corporation tax. A decision will be taken following the conclusion of work developed by the joint ministerial working group, which is expected in the summer.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are participating in the high-level meeting to be held by Sanitation and Water for All in Washington on 20 April; and, if so, what are their objectives for the meeting.[HL15450]
Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) strongly supports the work of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership to increase accountability of both developing countries and donors for delivering results on the ground. We recognise that it will be important to have a strong UK presence at the next high-level meeting in April 2012 and the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, has signalled his intent to be there. The UK will continue to provide support and guidance for the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, as it has done since its inception.
The challenge of providing safe water and sanitation to those who presently do not have these most basic of services remains a high priority for the British Government. DfID officials are in discussion with our international partners ahead of the April meeting in order to plan how to ensure that it is a success.
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