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Work and Pensions

Pensions Reform

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. John Hutton): I have today published two papers on pensions reform.

In May, the Government published its Command Paper “Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system”. In the 15-week consultation period we have talked to the public and to stakeholders to build a consensus around our reforms. We have received over 350 separate responses from organisations and individuals, many of them extremely detailed. The report I am publishing today provides a summary of the views that have been expressed. I am grateful to all who have contributed, and our response shows how the consultation process has shaped our reforms.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee published its report “Pension Reform” in July this year. I am
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publishing today the Government's response to the conclusions and recommendations of that report. I am grateful to the Committee for its work and analysis, which has been an important contribution to the White Paper consultation exercise.

Our package of reforms aims to address the long-term challenges faced by the pensions system and do more to increase saving, whilst ensuring that no pensioner has to live in poverty. We have built on the hard work of the Pensions Commission which created the basis for consensus on future pensions policy.

Copies of both documents are available for hon. Members from the Vote Office.

Improved Services for Jobcentre Plus Customers

The Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform (Mr. Jim Murphy): Today, I am pleased to announce that Jobcentre Plus is to introduce enhanced services across the country for people who wish to apply for working age benefits.

In response to feedback from customers, staff and key stakeholders, Jobcentre Plus has been testing improved services in parts of North Lincolnshire since 27 February 2006 and parts of London since 24 April specifically designed to improve the customer's experience when applying for working age benefits.

These changes have proven effective and have been well received in the pilot area. Therefore in the early part of 2007 Jobcentre Plus will start to introduce the following improvements nationally.

These enhancements, along with administrative changes, will improve and simplify the service we offer to our customers and provide speedier access to the help they need to get into work as soon as possible.

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