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9 Jun 2009 : Column 842W—continued

Small Businesses

20. Mr. Reid: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure that banks continue to provide liquidity to small businesses. [278523]

Ian Pearson: The Government are taking action to ensure competitively priced loans continue to be available. On 19 January, the Government announced measures to reinforce the stability of the financial system, increase confidence and capacity to lend, and support the recovery of the economy. These measures build on those announced on 8 October 2008.

The Government have agreed lending commitments with Lloyds and RBS that will see Lloyds lend an additional £11 billion to businesses, and RBS an additional £16 billion to businesses—on commercial terms and subject to market demand—over the 12 months from March 2009.


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The Government will report annually to Parliament on the delivery of these agreements.

Automotive Assistance Programme

21. Peter Luff: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with Ministers and officials in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the automotive assistance programme; and if he will make a statement. [278524]

Kitty Ussher: Treasury Ministers and officials regularly have discussions with Ministers and officials in the former Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on all the Government’s initiatives to provide real help to business, including the Automotive Assistance Programme.

The AAP received state aid clearance on 27 February 2009 with an “Open for Business” promotional seminar hosted by BERR on 11 March. Since then, there have been more than 70 further requests for information on the scheme. The Government are working with companies, resulting in around 15 approaches being taken forward in more detail.

Financial Services: Consumer Interests

24. Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure that UK Financial Investments takes into account the interests of consumers of financial services. [278527]

Ian Pearson: The overarching objectives for the UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI) are to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder with due regard to the maintenance of financial stability and to act in a way that promotes competition. This objective includes promoting competition in a way that is consistent with a UK financial services industry that operates to the benefit of consumers.

It is not the role of the UK Financial Investments Limited (UKFI) and the Treasury to intervene in the day-to-day management decisions of invested banks and banks which are in temporary public ownership.

Pensioner Poverty

Mary Creagh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effect on levels of pensioner poverty of the proposals made in the 2009 Budget. [278514]

Ian Pearson: The Government have made significant progress in tackling pensioner poverty over the last decade lifting 900,000 pensioners out of relative poverty since 1998. The Government remain committed to tackling pensioner poverty and in April the guarantee element of pension credit increased by the largest amount since its introduction and above indexation. Budget 2009 took further action to help pensioner incomes. It announced an additional payment alongside this year’s winter fuel payment and a package of measures to support pensioners who receive an income from savings.


9 Jun 2009 : Column 844W

Bank Lending

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effect on levels of bank lending of measures introduced in the 2009 Budget. [278518]

Ian Pearson: As set out in the Budget, in response to the current financial market stress and instability, the Government have taken decisive and immediate steps to limit the negative effects on the economy.

On 19 January 2009, the Government announced a package of measures package designed to reinforce the stability of the financial system, to increase confidence and capacity to lend, and in turn to support the recovery of the economy. These measures build on those announced on 8 October last year.

At the 2008 pre-Budget report, the Government announced the creation of a new Lending Panel (made up of lenders, trade and consumer bodies, Government, regulators and the Bank of England) to monitor lending. As part of this new monitoring approach, the Bank of England is publishing new monthly report—“Trends in Lending”—which presents the bank’s assessment of latest developments in lending to UK economy. This report is available at:

Landfill Tax

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans his Department has to publish a report on the outcomes of the consultation on proposed changes to landfill tax; and if he will make a statement; [278338]

(2) which individuals and organisations have been invited to respond to his Department's consultation on proposed changes to landfill tax. [278339]

Kitty Ussher: This consultation, launched on 22 April 2009, is being conducted in accordance with the Government’s Consultation Code of Practice. An assessment of the responses will be undertaken following the end of the consultation and a summary of responses will be published thereafter including any decisions taken in the light of the exercise.

Hard copies of the consultation document have been sent to all landfill site operators registered for the tax by HMRC. An electronic copy of the consultation was sent to various stakeholder groups including Government bodies, waste management companies, environmental organisations, trade associations and industry bodies. Comments are welcome from anyone with an interest. The document is available from both the HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs websites. Printed copies are also available from these Departments.

Revenue and Customs: Debt Collection

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department takes to ensure that debt collection work contracted out by HM Revenue and Customs is undertaken only by registered bailiffs. [277770]


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Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) does not commission bailiffs to recover tax arrears or other debts and has no plans to do so.

The Department is currently carrying out a small-scale six-month trial to test the use of private debt collection agencies. The agencies involved have been chosen from a government framework contract and have successfully pursued debts on behalf of other Government Departments for some years. The pilot does not involve face to face contact or visits to home or business premises.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what categories of information on creditors are provided to debt collectors working on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs; and what procedures are in place to ensure the security of personal data relating to individuals in such circumstances. [277771]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and those acting on its behalf have a strict statutory duty of confidentiality and information is only passed to third parties by HMRC for the purposes permitted by law. The Department is currently carrying out a small-scale six-month trial to test the use of private debt collection agencies (DCAs). HMRC will supply to such agencies only sufficient information to enable identification and collection of any debt and authentication of the identity of the debtor.

The DCAs’ processes have already been accredited by other Government Departments. HMRC have carried out additional checks to ensure the statutory duty of confidentiality will be maintained. These will be supplemented by robust audit and assurance as the pilot proceeds.

Unemployment

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what fiscal measures his Department has put in place to reduce the unemployment rate for 18 to 24 year olds. [278330]

Kitty Ussher: The Government are committed to giving everyone the support they need to find employment as quickly as possible, whatever their age.

On 6 April 2009, as part of the Government’s response to the economic downturn, Government put in place a package of support available to anyone unemployed for more than six months, including a recruitment subsidy of £1,000 for employers that recruit those in receipt of JSA for six months or more. Government also launched extra support for newly unemployed customers including one-to-one advice and coaching, and a quadrupling of funding for the Rapid Response Service.

Funding was provided in the Budget for a guaranteed offer of a job, work-focused training, or work experience for at least six months for all 18 to 24-year-olds who have been claiming JSA for 12 months. This offer will consist of:


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The guarantee will come into effect from January 2010, with some jobs available as early as October 2009.

Children, Schools and Families

Children: Protection

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether the Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children will be permitted to read full serious case reviews. [274253]

Dawn Primarolo: The Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children, Sir Roger Singleton, will be permitted to read individual full serious case reviews if, in his view, it is necessary for him to do so in order to fulfil his remit as set out in his letter from the Secretary of State of 12 March.

Local Government: Correspondence

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what mechanisms exist for hon. Members to request an immediate response from local education authorities in respect of urgent cases referred to them by those hon. Members; and if he will make a statement. [278809]

Ms Diana R. Johnson: If a local authority fails to respond to an hon. Member within a reasonable period of time, it is open to that Member to complain to the Commission for Local Administration in England (the Local Government Ombudsman).

Pre-school Education: Qualifications

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will estimate the number and proportion of the early years childcare workforce without a level 3 or higher qualification; and if he will make a statement. [277819]

Dawn Primarolo: The Childcare and Early Years Providers Survey collects information on staff working with children and young people. The number and proportion of early years child care staff without a level 3 and with at least a level 3 are detailed as follows:


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9 Jun 2009 : Column 848W
Qualifications of staff across all types of providers
Total childcare staff (excluding childminders) Total early years staff Childminders Total

Percentage Number( 1) Percentage Number( 1) Percentage Number( 1) Percentage Number( 1)

At least level 3

65

204,100

79

68,000

41

24,300

64

294,400

Do not have at least a level 3 qualification

35

109,900

21

18,100

59

35,600

36

165,600

Total numbers(2)

100

314,100

100

86,000

100

59,800

100

459,900

(1) Numbers provided are subject to rounding error as they have been calculated based on the known total number of staff (final row of table) within each category and the proportions of staff with at least a level 3 qualification.
(2) Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service: Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many staff of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service have had internal disciplinary procedures opened against them in each of the last five years. [277860]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 3 June 2009]: ACAS takes its responsibility as the originator of the Discipline and Grievance Code very seriously and is aware that it must act in accordance with its own Code. Its managers always attempt to resolve issues informally first. ACAS currently employs 892 people and the following are the numbers of internal disciplinary procedures that it has opened against staff in each of the last five years.

Number of internal disciplinary procedures

2008

4

2007

5

2006

5

2005

1

2004

0


Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service: Dismissal

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many staff of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service have been dismissed before the scheduled end of a contract of employment in each of the last five years. [277859]

Mr. McFadden [holding answer 3 June 2009]: ACAS currently employs 892 people and takes its responsibilities as an advocate of good employment practices seriously. This means that if an individual has an expected end date to a contract, it will be an unusual occurrence for the contract to be terminated before that date. The following are the occasions where this has happened. Permanent staff are not included in these figures.

Number of staff

2008

2

2007

0

2006

0

2005

0

2004

1


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