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Work and Pensions

Social Fund Allocations

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): I am pleased to announce that the gross discretionary Social Fund budget for 2007-08 will be £752 million.

This includes a £50 million injection of net funding, being the second of three which in total comprise a substantial £210 million boost to support changes to the loans scheme.

With the net funding available, I have been able to allocate a gross national loans budget of £610 million
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and a national community care grants budget of £141 million from 1st April 2007; £l million will be retained centrally as a contingency reserve. For example it is available to provide additional help to Jobcentre Plus budgets facing unexpected and unplanned expenditure.

Details of individual budget allocations will be placed in the Library.

The discretionary social fund budget is cash limited. Budgets are allocated to districts on 1 April each year. The gross discretionary social fund budget allocated for 2007-08 is £752 million made up of:

This was allocated as follows:

Agency Targets and Business Plans

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. John Hutton): I am today able to announce the annual performance targets in 2007-08 for four 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 Jobcentre Plus, the Child Support Agency, Disability and Carers Service and The Rent Service in 2007-08 is contained in their individual business plans which have been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library and the Vote Office. The Pension Service targets and business plan will be published in due course.

Jobcentre Plus

Job Outcome Target (JOT)*

To achieve a total points score of 11,200,000 based on the job outcomes Jobcentre Plus achieves

*The JOT target this year is not directly comparable with that set for 2006/07 due to technical and definitional adjustments. The 2006/07 target was based on limited baseline information and was set too high.

Interventions Delivery Target*

To make sure that specified key Jobcentre Plus labour market interventions take place within set timescales in 85% of cases checked.

* New Target not comparable to former Business Delivery Target.


Planning Assumption

Labour Market interventions


Lone Parent Review/ Trigger Work Focused Interviews


Jobseeker’s Allowance interventions (JSA 13- and 26-week interventions)


Incapacity Benefit (IB) interventions (initial IB Work Focused Interviews)


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Average Actual Clearance Times

To process claims within specified Average Actual Clearance Times (AACTs) for Incapacity Benefit (IB), Income Support (IS) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) — 18 days, 11 days and 12 days respectively.

Monetary Value of Fraud & Error Target

By March 2008, to continue to ensure that losses from fraud and error in working-age Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance amount to less than current levels of loss as expressed in the new 2005-6 baseline.

Customer Service Target

To achieve an 84% customer service level in the delivery of the standards set out in the Customers and Employers Charters.

Employer Outcome Target

At least 84% of employers placing their vacancies with Jobcentre Plus will have a positive outcome.

Child Support Agency

The Secretary of State’s targets have been designed to ensure that the Agency is firmly on track to achieve its Operational Improvement Plan commitments in this crucial second year of the Programme. They are:

Number of children

Maintenance will be collected or have been arranged by the agency on behalf of 720,000 children, as measured by the monthly average over the quarter ending March 2008.

Total Maintenance Collection (Arrears)

Collect or have arranged £970 million in child maintenance between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2008; of which at least £120 million will be arrears.

Maintenance Outcomes

By 31 March 2008, in 66% 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.

Uncleared applications to the New Scheme

By 31 March 2008, the volume of uncleared new scheme applications will be no more than 140,000.

Disability and Carers Service

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Performance Standards for 2007-08

Ensure that at least 92 per cent of calls to the DLA/AA Helpline, our national telephone service, are answered first time.

Ensure that less than one per cent of all calls attempted to the DLA/AA Helpline receive an engaged tone.

Increase the percentage of customers satisfied with the service provided by DCS to 86 per cent.

Clear new claims for DLA within an average of 38 or less working days; new claims for AA within an average of 18 days and CA within an average of 13.5 days.

Achieve an accuracy rate of 90.5 per cent on decisions on claims for DLA.

Achieve an accuracy rate of 92 per cent on decisions on claims for AA.

Achieve a financial accuracy rate of 98 per cent on CA.

Reduce sick absence to eight average working days lost.

Meet the efficiency challenge by delivering a staffing level of 5,603.

Reduce the cost of processing benefits to: DLA/AA claim £154.98* DLA/AA load £7.80* CA claim £80.72* CA load £11.05* * figures to be confirmed.

Number of DLA/AA cases referred to the Tribunal Service to be no more than 4.5 per cent of all cases.

Of the referred cases heard by the Tribunal Service no more than 45 per cent. to be overturned.

The Rent Service

Service Delivery

Customer SatisfactionLocal Authority Housing Benefit Department Customers Ensure that at least 95% of our local authority customers rate our service as satisfactory or better during the year. Fair Rent Customers & Housing Benefit InspectionsEnsure that at least 95% of our fair rent customers, and those housing benefit claimants whose properties we inspect, rate our service as satisfactory or better during the year.

Quality 95% of all Housing Benefit determinations that are checked as part of our quality assurance processes are verified as being accurate. 95% of all Fair Rent valuations that are checked as part of our quality assurance processes are verified as being accurate.

Speed of Processing
Type of DeterminationTimescale for the Year2007-08 Target Outturn

Housing Benefit:

With an inspection

within 15 working days


Without an inspection

within 3 working days



within 4 working days



within 15 working days


Fair Rents

within 40 working days


Value for Money


To increase productivity by 5% by the end of the year.

Cost per case

To reduce cost per case by 1.5% in real terms by the end of the year.

Sickness Absence

To reduce average sick absence to no more than 8 working days per employee per year.

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Occupational Pensions

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. John Hutton): The Chancellor in his Budget statement on 21 March announced our decision to significantly extend the help provided by the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS).

This announcement was the result of my reflection on the implications of the High Court ruling in the judicial review of the Government’s decision to reject the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s findings of maladministration by the DWP

My reflections have also been informed by the judgment of the ECJ in the Robins case. In that judgment, given on 25 January, the European Court indicated that the level of protection provided to some members of the ASW pension scheme fell short of the level required by article 8 of the Insolvency Directive. But the ECJ also said the directive did not require a guarantee of pension rights in full, and it gave a strong steer that damages would not be payable for breach of the directive earlier than the judgment date. Having carefully considered the terms of the ECJ ruling, the Government believe that the enhanced FAS package announced last week offers a level of protection that is compliant with that judgment.

In its judgment in the judicial review relating to the ombudsman’s report, the High Court directed me to reconsider my response to the ombudsman’s first recommendation on the basis that maladministration had occurred. I have undertaken my reconsideration on that basis. As a result of that reconsideration we have made this extended FAS package available for all those who suffered losses as a result of their employer’s insolvency, and have considered it appropriate to set the assistance at the same level as the protection offered in compliance with the ECJ judgment.

This announcement is not affected by our appeal against one of the High Court’s decisions in the ombudsman case. That appeal has been mounted because the judgment raises important legal and constitutional issues, in particular on the relationship between the ombudsman and the Government, and those issues need to be resolved. This extension to FAS will stand, regardless of the result of our appeal against the finding of maladministration.

The extended scheme will now provide assistance to ensure that the pensions of all members of affected pension schemes are topped up to 80 per cent. of the core pension rights accrued in their scheme.

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We will more than double the cap on assistance payments to £26,000, and in recognition of the significant difference that £10 a week can make to some pensioners, we will end the de minimis rule that excludes those whose FAS payment would be £10 or less a week. Although FAS payments commence at age 65, they will remain ‘inflation proof’ up to age 65.

In total an estimated 100,000 will benefit from this extension. 85,000 scheme members will be eligible for assistance for the first time. Around 15,000 people who stood to benefit from FAS under the current scheme will receive more assistance due to the extension.

As a result we expect that all the estimated 125,000 people with losses will be helped. This increases the taxpayer’s commitment from £2.3 billion in cumulative cash terms, to £8 billion. This equates to more than doubling the scheme in present value terms, from £830 million to £1.9 billion.

Having now settled the public expenditure support for these schemes, I have today set up a review to:

The review will be conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions and advised by a panel of technical experts. Due to the complexity of the issues involved the review will be informed by advice from the Government Actuary Department. This will commence immediately and the review will report by the end of the year.

Let me be clear that the 80 per cent. level of support we have committed is from the taxpayer, and it is not contingent on the release of any other funding source.

Regardless of the review, it continues to be important to the interests of all members of affected pension scheme that schemes are wound up as quickly as possible. Should the review identify an alternative way of using scheme assets we will ensure that no scheme members lose out because their pension scheme has completed the wind up process.

It is also important that trustees continue to apply on behalf of members to the Financial Assistance Scheme for payments and provide member data. Failure to do so will mean that people who could be receiving payments will lose out on the substantial help that is now available.

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