Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Department for Work and Pensions

  1.  The Department for Work and Pensions is providing this written memorandum, in response to the Committee's request for evidence on preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in August.

  2.  Supporting documents referred to in the text will be supplied separately by electronic mail.


What input has your department had to the UK preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development?

  3.  DWP input into MISC 18 is co-ordinated in the Joint International Unit of DWP and DfES, which has an overview of departmental policies and related international affairs.

  4.  At a ministerial level, MISC 18 is the key route by which DWP is contributing to the UK preparations for WSSD. Preparatory meetings are attended by officials as necessary.

  5.  Involvement in additional preparations for the Summit came about principally as part of ongoing work with UN bodies and agencies that have an interest in WSSD.

  6.  MISC 18 has commissioned a paper on "Education and Capacity Building", which will be completed jointly by DWP and DfID later in the Spring.

  7.  DWP is actively contributing to overall government communication strategy, for which DEFRA has the lead role.

  8.  Information on the World Summit on Sustainable Development has been included on the Sustainable Development site on the DWP intranet which in turn links to the Government official site for the summit. It is intended to increase the amount of publicity for the summit. The principle method of communication to staff will be through the dedicated departmental sustainable development publication and the Intranet site.


Please set out which UK sustainable development indicators your department has lead responsibility for and which other indicators the department's policies impact upon?

  9.  The Department for Work and Pensions makes a significant contribution to make towards improvements in the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development, in line with Agenda 21 and the 2nd UK Strategy for Sustainable Development. DWP has responsibility for two headline indicators for sustainable development:

    H3:  Employment.

    H4:  Indicators of success in tackling poverty and social exclusion.

  10.  There are a number of further indicators that are directly affected by the policies of DWP. These are:

    C5:  Proportion of people of working age in workless households.

    C6:  Proportion of people of working age out of work for more than two years.

    C7:  Proportion of lone parents, long term ill and disabled people who are economically active.

  11.  In addition DWP also recognises that many of its policies have an impact on other indicators for which it does not have lead responsibility. Some examples, drawn from the list of headline indicators, are:

    H5:  Qualifications at age 19.

    H6:  Expected years of healthy life.

    H7:  Homes judged unfit to live in.

    H8:  Level of crime.

    H9:  Emissions of greenhouse gases.

  This list is not exhaustive and is offered as evidence that DWP acknowledges that the impacts of its policies can affect other sustainability issues and works proactively with other departments .


What systems does your department have in place to monitor progress on how far the department's policies are contributing to the UK progress on sustainable development and the issues that were mapped out in Agenda 21 after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992?

  12.  DWP has taken action to ensure that sustainable development, in line with the current UK Strategy, Agenda 21 and the requirements of Green Ministers, is built into the work of the Department, and to monitor and report on progress. Whilst work is advanced in delivering improvement in operational performance, DWP has laid the groundwork for, and is currently developing, new systems that will enable all three elements of sustainable development to be built into all the decision making processes, including policy development.

  13.  A dedicated Sustainable Development Team (SDT) is in place.

    —  SDT have responsibility for integrating sustainable development across DWP and its agencies.

    —  They work closely with all relevant stakeholders to deliver the progress demanded by the DWP Sustainable Development Improvement Programme (copy attached) which covers the main areas of sustainable development within DWP.

      —  It contains targets that cover:

      —   policy development;

      —   decision making; and

      —   environmental improvements in DWP operations.

    —   All targets are "owned" by accountable officials.

    —   It is reviewed on an annual basis and progress is reported not only through the annual Green Ministers report but also now in the annual DWP Sustainable Development Report (copy attached).

    —  The SDT are also involved in co-ordinating the DWP contribution to the Governments Annual Sustainable Development Report, detailing progress against the main indicators of the UK Strategy for Sustainable Development, highlighted above.

  14.  DWP believes that it makes a significant contribution to the environmental aims of sustainable development by improving performance in the delivery of its business. There have been some noticeable successes in improving our environmental impacts reported in our own annual report and the overarching Greening Government Report. As an example currently 26.9 per cent of our energy consumption now comes from a renewable source, contributing to the aim of reducing CO2 emissions.

  15.  A Sustainable Development Steering Group has been formed from representatives from all the business areas of the department. They are responsible for ensuring that sustainable development is incorporated into all major decision making processes, including policy development, and for raising awareness of sustainable development. This group has received specific DWP focused, sustainable development training from the Civil Service College. The SDT team are currently identifying further training requirements with their Steering Group colleagues. They are also developing systems to fully integrate all aspects of sustainable development into the decision making process and whether the Integrated Policy Appraisal toolkit could be best used to assist this and the reporting aspect of sustainability issues.

  16.  The steering group is supported by a Sustainable Development Network Group, that takes responsibility for the targets on the Improvement Programme and provides an effective means of ensuring that progress moves forward consistently—in decision making and operational areas—across the whole department.

  17.  DWP is currently undergoing an intense period of change, due to the wide-ranging reform of the welfare state (which will make a significant contribution to sustainable development). As part of the development of all the change initiatives that this will require, all project managers must consider the sustainable development, and particularly the environmental impacts, of their projects. Completion of a checklist helps to identify negative impacts (which can then be mitigated) or positive impacts (which can be enhanced). Guidance is available for project managers on what issues should be considered. DWP is currently engaged in a programme to migrate a significant proportion of our customers to receiving payments via ACT. We have identified that this will not only offer improvements in terms of social exclusion, but also reduce the amount of paper that is generated by traditional methods of payment.

  18.  DWP believes that its whole modernisation programme will lead to efficiency savings and make a significant contribution towards achieving the targets set in the Improvement Programme.

March 2002

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