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Social Fund/Social Fund Commissioner

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The Secretary of State's annual report on the social fund for 2004–05 (Cm 6595) was published today and has been laid before Parliament.

The report records that total gross expenditure in 2004–05, excluding winter fuel payments, was £867 million. This included more than 261,000 non-repayable grants and around 2.2 million interest free loans together worth almost £700 million, and funeral and cold weather payments totalling more than £48 million. In addition around 236,000 Sure Start maternity grants worth over £119 million were made, and over 8.2 million households benefited from a winter fuel payment at a cost of around £1.95 billion.

The report also outlines reforms to the social fund loan scheme, some of which have already been announced in the pre-Budget report. Introduction of the reforms is planned for April 2006.

The social fund commissioner's report has also been published today and placed in the Library.
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The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Anne McGuire): Remploy's achievement against its targets set by Government for 2004–05 is in the table.
Gross Margin—the Company will achieve Gross Margin of £60.5m£60.5m£61.0m
Progressions from Remploy Factories and Interwork to open employment1,4001,683
Average cost of supported employee£10,500£12,075
Employee Development Time5%7.7%

Remploy will publish its annual report and accounts in the autumn giving further detail of its peformance throughout 2004–05. Copies of the annual report and accounts will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
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In addition, on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I have written to the Chairman of Remploy informing him that I am disappointed at the increasing unit cost and approving the 2005–06 Performance and Resources Agreement between the Department and the Company. The Performance and Resources Agreement includes targets for the coming year. The Agreement has been negotiated by the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The Targets for 2005–06 are:

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The full Agreement for 2005–06 has been placed in the Library.

Agency Annual Reports and Accounts

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. David Blunkett): I am pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions has today published the 2004–05 annual reports and accounts for five of its executive agencies: The Pension Service (HC342), Child Support Agency (HC256), Disability and Carers Service (HC181), The Rent Service (HC220) and Appeals Service (HC235). Copies have been placed in the Library. The annual report and accounts of Jobcentre Plus will be published after the summer recess.