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With the net funding available, I have been able to allocate a gross national loans budget of £610 million
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.
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:
New money (net AME) £228.2million
Forecast loan recovery £523.8million
Loans £610 million
Grants £141 million
Contingency reserve £1 million
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.
|Job Outcome Target (JOT)*|
*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*|
|Average Actual Clearance Times|
|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 Jobseekers Allowance amount to less than current levels of loss as expressed in the new 2005-6 baseline.
|Customer Service Target|
|Employer Outcome Target|
The Secretary of States 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:
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.
|Performance Standards for 2007-08|
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 Determination||Timescale for the Year||2007-08 Target Outturn|
|Cost per case|
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 Governments decision to reject the Parliamentary Ombudsmans 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 ombudsmans report, the High Court directed me to reconsider my response to the ombudsmans 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 employers 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 Courts 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.
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 taxpayers 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.
examine how we make best use of the assets in pension schemes that are winding up under funded with an insolvent employer;
determine if these sources of funding could be used to increase assistance for affected scheme members;
consider any suggestions from interested and concerned parties.
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.
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.