PUBLIC SERVICE AGREEMENTS
44. The Committee scrutinises the Department's Public
Service Agreement (PSA) targets during the evidence sessions on
the Departmental Annual Report and Autumn Performance Report as
well as during the course of inquiries and during one-off evidence
sessions with the separate agencies and bodies.
45. In the sessions on the 2005 and 2006 Annual Report
and 2005 Autumn Performance Report there were recurrent PSA target
themes running through the questioning. PSA targets that the
Committee has been particularly interested in scrutinising include
the Child Poverty and Employment Rate targets, the targets for
reducing the proportion of children in workless households and
the take up of Pension Credit. The targets for fraud and error,
particularly the slippage in the Housing Benefit fraud and error
target, were also examined.
46. The inquiry into Incapacity Benefits and Pathways
to Work looked at how the Government was progressing with its
rolling PSA target to increase the employment rate of disabled
people and significantly reduce the difference between their employment
rate and the overall rate.
This target is also an important factor (along with the employment
rate targets for lone parents, ethnic minorities and those with
the lowest qualifications) for the Committee's current inquiry
on the Government's Employment Strategy.
47. The Secretary of State and Chief Executive of
the CSA were questioned about the PSA target to increase the proportion
of Parents with Care on benefit who receive maintenance for their
children to 60% by March 2006.
48. Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety
Commission and Geoffrey Podger, Chief Executive, Health and Safety
Executive were questioned about the HSE/C PSA targets and the
failure to meet the target of 5% reduction in fatal and major
injuries in the workplace. They were also asked about the less
demanding nature of the 2007-08 targets.
49. One of the Pension Reform inquiry conclusions
was that achieving and maintaining the PSA target of take-up levels
of 80% for Pension Credit is challenging and the Committee recommended
that the Government sets out its analysis of how take-up programmes
and procedures for claiming all means-tested benefits to which
pensioners may be entitled could be made more effective.