Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Department of Social Security (SF 22A)
When Angela Eagle MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary
of State, gave evidence to the Committee on 7 March she agreed
to give further details on the following questions and provide
some additional background material.
Ms Buck asked for a regional breakdown of Benefits
Agency (BA) staff turnover.
The table below sets out percentage staff turnover
for the Executive Officer and administrative grades for the year
ending 31 January 2001, for each BA business unit.
||Percentage staff turnoveryear ending 31 January 2001
|AD1 (East London & Anglia)||1.97
|AD3 (London South)||1.57
|AD4 (West Country)||1.09
|AD6 (West Midlands)||1.21
|AD8 (North West Coast)||1.02
|AD9 (Greater Manchester)||1.64
|AD11 (Tyne Tees)||1.00
|AD12 (West of Scotland)||1.45
|AD13 (East of Scotland)||0.59
|Child Benefit Centre||2.16
|Pensions & Overseas Directorate||1.08
|Disability & Carer Benefits Directorate
|BA Central Services||0.00
The Minister agreed to provide the Committee with a copy
of recent research into the financial services which are available
to the low paid (DSS research report 125 "Saving and Borrowing").
This is attached.
Ms Buck asked why people seeking a Civil Service post, who
do not have full British citizenship, cannot apply.
Under current law some 75 per cent of civil service posts
- including all front-line posts in the BAare open, in
addition to UK nationals, to:
Commonwealth citizens with a work permit;
EEA nationals of other member states and certain
members of their families who are non-EEA nationals; and
exceptionally, nationals of other countries who
are granted an aliens certificate in accordance with the Aliens'
Employment Act 1955.
The remainder of posts, requiring special allegiance to the
state, are reserved for UK nationals as allowed by Article 39(4)
of the EC Treaty. Primary legislation is needed to open up more
posts to selection on merit regardless of nationality whilst preserving
the right to reserve posts where strictly necessary. Whilst such
a measure would be uncontentious, it has not so far proved possible
to secure a slot in the Government's legislative programme.
However, at the beginning of the current session of Parliament,
the Cabinet Office submitted the Civil Service Nationality Bill
(now the Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill) as a Government
handout Bill for those MPs who were due to be allocated a place
on the list of Private Members' Bills. The Bill secured 19th place
on the list and had its First Reading on 17 January. Second Reading
will take place on 16 March.
The Bill covers all civil employment under the Crown. The
impact on the Civil Service will be to relax the current nationality
regulations so as to open up some 90 per cent of all posts to
selection on merit regardless of nationality. Whilst retaining
the provision which permits the balance to be restricted to recruits
who are UK nationals.
Ms Buck asked if the level of expenditure on Crisis Loans
used for alignment was increasing.
The table below sets out the Crisis Loan expenditure on living
expenses (alignment) over the last three years. These loans are
intended to tide people over where there is a gap until their
first payment of benefit is due and they are without funds (hence
"alignment" to paydayit does not mean there is
an administrative delay).
||% of Gross|
Mr Dismore asked if it would be useful to monitor the ethnic
breakdown of Community Care Grant (CCG) applicants.
The Government is fully committed to ensuring that all vulnerable
people, including those from ethnic minorities, receive the service
they are entitled to expect from the Social Fund.
The point of concern was about whether a Social Fund Officer
(SFO) from a different cultural background would give priority
to an item in a CCG application which the applicant regarded as
a high priority because of his cultural background.
It is important to stress it is not the nature of the item
which determines priority of a CCG, it is all the circumstances
of an individual application. It is therefore open to an applicant,
in the circumstances suggested, to make explicit the link between
the item and its importance for religious or cultural reasons.
In such circumstances the SFO would give due consideration to
We do not currently collect statistical information about
the ethnic breakdown of Social Fund applications. As discussed
at the hearing the Government are not in principle opposed to
collecting such information. However we would want to make sure
that any information was collected in such a way as to meet the
natural concerns ethnic minority customers might have about the
use to which the data might be put. It would also have to satisfy
Human Rights and Data Protection requirements. Additionally we
would not wish to increase the administrative costs of the Fund.
Nevertheless we believe that it is an important issue and
if the Committee has evidence that raise concerns in this area
we will consider the matter further.
13 March 2001