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To reflect the particular nature of the content the written consultation period for these draft regulations will be a period of six weeks. Although less than the customary 12 weeks, we consider that a six-week period for written consultation provides an appropriate time for stakeholders to consider and respond fully, and will
allow us to make the changes as quickly as we reasonably can. We have been in regular contact with stakeholders including the pensions action group, and will be sending the consultation document directly to relevant pension scheme trustees.
www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2008/Financial AssistanceScheme(MiscellaneousAmendments)2 Regulations2008.pdf, or alternatively via the FAS website.
In the first two packages of draft regulations we have focused on introducing the key parts of the reforms to FAS announced on 17 December 2007: payment at 90 per cent. from normal retirement age; allowing early reduced payment for those scheme members unable to work due to ill health; and allowing certain pension schemes with solvent employers to qualify for FAS.
There will be a third package of regulations published for consultation later in the year aimed at delivering all the remaining parts of the extension, which will move FAS to a position where financial assistance payments are calculated on a basis which is broadly comparable to that of the PPF.
The Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform (Mr. Stephen Timms): On behalf of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I have signed regulations made under Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007, which are laid before the House today. This is an important set of regulations which provides the benefit structure and rules for the new employment and support allowance (ESA) which will be introduced from 27 October 2008.
This is a further significant step in the Governments welfare reform strategy and addresses a key area for simplification by providing a single income replacement benefit for people who are not working and have a health condition or disability.
The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 prescribe the conditions of entitlement and benefit regulations for those who claim on the basis that their capability for work is limited by their physical or mental condition. ESA will be payable in respect of new claims arising from 27 October and will replace incapacity benefit and income support paid on the grounds of incapacity or disability. Incapacity benefit and income support will continue in payment to existing customers.
For ESA, new medical and capability assessments, collectively to be known as the work capability assessment, will focus on what a person can do and identify what steps they might take towards taking up work. We intend to apply the new medical test to existing claimants, as their benefit entitlement comes up for reassessment, starting in 2010. We expect all existing claimants to have been assessed using the new test by 2013.
For the majority of new claimants, ESA will provide, through a series of six mandatory work-focused interviews, the necessary personal adviser and other support to enable them to realise their potential and gain independence by moving into the job market. This will be delivered through the successful pathways to work initiative, which will be extended and available nationally from next month and which has already helped over 64,000 people into work.
ESA will be payable to those with the most severe health conditions or disabilities without them having to undertake any mandatory work-focused interviewsthey will be part of the support group. However, no one in the support group will be written off. They will be able to volunteer to receive the same support as the majority of claimants, who will be in the work-related activity group.
The regulations set out the rates of new benefit and ensure that a single person in the support group claiming income-related ESA will be guaranteed an income of at least £102.10 a week£17.60 a week more than the long-term rate of incapacity benefit. This will be done by automatically passporting them to the enhanced disability premium, as part of our commitment to fairness for the most severely disabled.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): I am today able to announce the annual performance targets in 2008-09 for 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 and The Rent Service in 2008-09 is contained in their individual business plans which have been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library. The Child Support Agencys business plan has also been placed in the Library and will be published shortly. The business plan for the Pension, Disability and Carers Service will be published in due course.
|Job Outcome Target (JOT)(1)|
|(1)The target will be a 5% increase on actual outturn for 2007-08 which will be calculated in the autumn when the end of year JOT performance figures for 2007-08 are available.|
To prevent and detect overpayments and underpayments of benefit consistent with DWPs aspiration for the proportion of expenditure overpaid and underpaid due to fraud and error as set out in the Departments Business Plan for 2008-09.
To prevent and detect overpayments and underpayments of benefit consistent with DWPs aspiration for the proportion of expenditure overpaid and underpaid due to fraud and error. Prevent and detect fraud and correcting fraud and error in a minimum of 50,600 cases.
By 31 March 2009, in 69% 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.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and I wish to make the following statement to the House. It concerns the Governments response to recommendations made by the coroners following the inquests into the tragic deaths of Gareth Myatt at Rainsbrook secure training centre in April 2004 and Adam Rickwood at Hassockfield secure training centre in August 2004.
In reply to a letter from His Honour Judge Richard Pollard, who presided at the inquest into Gareths death,
we promised a full response to his recommendations. To that end, we have drawn up an action plan which sets out the measures the Government and the Youth Justice Board have taken, and are taking, in response to Judge Pollards recommendations and to those of Mr. Andrew Tweddle, who presided at the inquest into Adams death.
We are placing copies of the action plan in the Library of the House. Copies have also been made available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. It can also be accessed on the publications section of the Ministry of Justice website at
www.justice.gov.uk/publications/publications.htm, or the publications section of the Department for Children, Schools and Families website at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/publications.
The action plan demonstrates the volume and variety of work that is being done to enhance safeguarding and child protection in the under-18 secure estate. One important strand of that work is the independent joint review of the use of restraint, which is due to report to Ministers of State for Justice and for Children, Young People and Families by 20 June.