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Advance from the Contingencies Fund

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. John Hutton): The approval of the Department for Work and Pensions spring supplementary estimate via the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No 2) Bill will not occur until the end of the month. Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £1,252,950,000 has been sought in the Department's spring supplementary estimate. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £750,000,000 will be met by a repayable cash advance from the contingencies fund.

Discretionary Loans Scheme

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): I am pleased to announce changes to the discretionary loans scheme from 3 April 2006.
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We have greatly simplified the rules for determining the size of the maximum budgeting loan amount that can be offered to eligible applicants. There are now only three rates that can be offered: one for single people; one for couples without children; one for families with children.

The complex "double debt" rule is abolished so that those applicants with existing budgeting loan debt have more help available to them. This, and the simpler rules for determining size of the maximum budgeting loan, means that applicants will understand better the help that is available and when they can access it.

We have increased the overall limit on loan amounts that any applicant can borrow from the social fund. At the same time we are reducing the highest loan repayment rates and giving applicants longer to repay their loan debt.

Also from 3 April 2006, budgeting loan applicants will benefit from being able to have more savings before any budgeting loan award is affected. The capital limit is doubled to £1,000 (under pension age) and £2,000 (pension age).

Overall this is a significant package of changes. Also, in making loans more affordable and easier to access, we aim to help people avoid alternative high cost lenders.

Agency Target and Business Plans 2006–07

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. John Hutton): I am today able to announce the annual performance targets in 2006–07 for each of the executive agencies of the Department for Work and Pensions. The targets I have agreed are set out below.

Further information on the plans of the Pension Service, Child Support Agency, Disability and Carers Service and the Rent Service in 2006–07 is contained in their individual business plans which have been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library. Copies of the Jobcentre Plus business plan will be made available in due course.
Jobcentre Plus

Job Outcomes Target (JOT)
To achieve a total points score of 13,500,000 based on the job outcomes Jobcentre Plus achieves
* As JOT is a new measure the JOT points level is not comparable to the level set under the Job Entry Target for 2005–06.
Business Delivery Target
To ensure that specified key Jobcentre Plus business processes are delivered efficiently, accurately and to specified standards in 94 per cent. of cases checked.
ComponentsPlanning Assumption
income support accuracy90 per cent.
jobseeker's allowance accuracy94 per cent.
labour market interventions96 per cent.
incapacity benefit accuracy95 per cent.
lone parent review work focused interviews95 per cent.
Monetary Value of Fraud and Error Target
By March 2007 to continue to ensure that losses from fraud and error in working age income support and jobseeker's allowance amount to no more than current (March 2006) levels of loss or no more than 5.2 per cent. of the monetary value of these benefits paid during the year, whichever represents the lower figure (as measured against the 1998 baseline).
Customer Service Target
To achieve an 84 per cent. customer service level in the delivery of the standards set out in the Customers and Employers Charters.
Employer Outcome Target
At least 86 per cent. of employers placing their vacancies with Jobcentre Plus will have a positive outcome.
Average Actual Clearance Times Target
To process claims, within specified average actual clearance times for incapacity benefit, income support and jobseeker's allowance—18 days, 11 days, and 12 days respectively.

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The Pension Service

By 2008, be paying pension credit to at least 3.2 million pensioner households while maintaining a focus on the most disadvantaged by ensuring that at least 2.2 million households are in receipt of the guarantee credit.

Improve working age individuals' awareness of their retirement provision such that by 2007–08 some 15.4 million individuals are regularly issued a pension forecast and 60,000 successful pension traces are undertaken a year.

Issue winter fuel payments for 2006–07 (over 99 per cent. of all automatic payments and successful claims received before 23 September 2006) by Christmas 2006.

Reduce sick absence rates to 8 days per capita.

Ensure that 95 per cent. of telephone calls received by the Pension Service centres are answered by customer advisors and less than 1 per cent. of attempted telephone calls receive the engaged tone or message.

Achieve a pension credit accuracy rate of at least 96 per cent.

Achieve a state pensions claims accuracy rate of at least 98 per cent.

Child Support Agency

Collection rate: new and old scheme

By 31 March 2007, where maintenance is paid through the collection service the Agency will collect, on average across both the new and old schemes, 90 per cent. of the amount due.
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Maintenance outcome

By 31 March 2007, in 65 per cent. of cases across both the new and old schemes in which a liability to pay maintenance exists, the non resident parent has either made a payment via the collection service, or a maintenance direct arrangement is in place. In addition, further ensuring that at least this level of performance is achieved for those new scheme cases in which the parent with care is on income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance.


By 31 March 2007, the agency will clear 55 per cent. of new applications within 12 weeks of receipt and 80 per cent. in 26 weeks.

New application backlogs

By 31 March 2007, the agency will have reduced the volume of uncleared new scheme applications by 25 per cent. of the amount outstanding by the end of March 2006.


By 31 March, 2007, accuracy on the last decision made for all new or old scheme maintenance calculations carried out and checked in previous 12 months to be correct to the nearest penny in at least 87 per cent. of cases.


The agency will collect arrears equivalent to 40 per cent. of the amount accruing due to non payment of regular maintenance between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007.

Disability and Carers Service

Ensure that for the period 1 April 2006 to 30 September 2006 at least 90 per cent. of calls to the DLA/AA helpline, our national telephone service, are answered first time and from 1 October 2006 ensure that at least 92 per cent. of calls are answered first time.

Ensure that less than 1 per cent. of all calls attempted to the DLA/AA helpline receive an engaged tone/automated message.

Increase the percentage of customers satisfied with the service provided by Disability and Carers Service to 85 per cent., an increase of 2 per cent. above the 2005 Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Clear new claims for disability living allowance within an average of 39 working days, new claims for attendance allowance within an average of 19 days and carer's allowance within an average of 15 working days.

Achieve an accuracy rate of 90 per cent. on decisions on claims for disability living allowance and 92 per cent. for attendance allowance.

Achieve a financial accuracy rate of 98 per cent. on carer's allowance payments.

Reduce sick absence to 8 average working days lost;

Meet the efficiency challenge by delivering a staffing level of 6,038.

Reduce the cost of processing benefits to:

AA/DLA claims    £164.92

AA/DLA live load    £8.64

CA claims    £97.93
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CA live load    £8.69

The Rent Service

Service Delivery
Speed of Processing

Type of DeterminationTimescale for the Year2006–07 Target Outturn
housing benefit:
With an inspectionwithin 15 working days94 per cent.
Without an inspectionwithin 3 working days94 per cent.
Pre-Tenancywithin 4 working days94 per cent.
Redeterminationwithin 15 working days94 per cent.
Fair Rentswithin 40 working days94 per cent.


95 per cent. of Local Reference Rent (LRR) Housing Benefit determinations to be upheld on redetermination.

95 per cent. of all Fair Rent valuations that are checked as part of our quality assurance processes are verified as being accurate.

Customer Satisfaction

Local Authority Housing Benefit Department Customers

Our target is to ensure that at least 95 per cent. of our local authority customers rate our service as satisfactory or better during 2005–06.

Fair Rent Customers & Housing Benefit Inspections

Our target is to ensure that at least 95 per cent. of our fair rent customers, and those housing benefit claimants whose properties we inspect, rate our service as satisfactory or better during the year.


To increase productivity by 7 per cent. by the end of the year.

Cost per case

To reduce cost per case by 6 per cent. in real terms by the end of the year.
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