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Ethnic Minority Employment Taskforce

The Minister for Work (Jane Kennedy): On 23 November we will be publishing the first yearly progress report of the ethnic minority employment taskforce.

The taskforce was set up in response to the Prime Minister's strategy unit report on ethnic minorities in the labour market and delivers the first cross-government ethnic minority employment strategy. The SU report arose out of concern that, in a strong labour market, people from an ethnic minority background are still facing formidable barriers to employment, as demonstrated by their employment rates.

As well as comprising Ministers from across government, the taskforce has representatives from the Commission for Racial Equality, the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry—all of whom have contributed significantly to the development of our strategy and the first year's progress report.

This report will represent the first of three reporting stages, with the final report due in 2006. It will set out the evidence base for our ethnic minority employment strategy and the progress the taskforce has made in its first year towards delivering its objective that no one should be disadvantaged in their employment prospects because of their ethnicity.

The report will also demonstrate those areas that the taskforce will seek to develop further—highlighting the importance of doing more than just meeting the strategy unit recommendations. It will set out the Government's continuing commitment to reducing the ethnic minority employment gap and the issues and challenges that face us in achieving this goal.
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Copies of the report will be placed in the Library on 23 November.

Unit Costs Targets 2004–05

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Alan Johnson): I am pleased to be able to announce today performance targets in respect of the customer facing businesses of the Department for Work and Pensions: Jobcentre Plus, the Pension Service, the Disability and Carers Service and the Child Support Agency.

In line with the Department's public service agreement we are committed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services. In order to demonstrate this we require our businesses to achieve published unit cost targets. The published targets are supported by a developing range of more detailed unit cost information used by operational managers.

The table below sets out 2004–05 targets for Jobcentre Plus, the Pension Service, the Disability and Carers Service and the Child Support Agency together with the actual unit costs and published targets for 2003–04.
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Jobcentre PlusBenefit Processing11.3010.20*28.18
Job Broking57.9864.60191.49
The Pension ServiceCost per customer24.9825.0024.00
Disability and Carers ServiceCost per customer contact131.74138.13132.15
The Child Support AgencyCost per case**200184***202

* Jobcentre Plus has extended the cost base being measured by more than £1.1 billion compared with 2003–04 which means that the 2004–05 target is not directly comparable with the 2003–04 figures.
** A figure of £189 for 2003–04 CSA unit costs was published in the Agency's annual accounts earlier this year. Whilst actual costs were used in producing this figure, the caseload figure used was a forecast, as accurate information on out turn was not available at that time. A revised estimate for CSA unit costs based on actual caseload figures for March 2004 is published here.
*** In 2003–04, the Child Support Agency's caseload proved to be lower than forecast, and the costs higher. The target for 2004–05 is therefore based on revised cost and caseload assumptions.