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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
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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.

Good progress continues to be made and we will maintain the effort required to ensure these changes, and therefore the assistance to scheme members, are in place with the minimum of delay.

The consultation documents are available on the Department’s website at 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.

Employment and Support Allowance Regulations

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 Government’s 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.

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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 interviews—they 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.

Agency Targets and Business Plans

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 Agency’s 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.

Jobcentre Plus

Job Outcome Target (JOT)(1)

To achieve a total points score 5% higher than that achieved in 2007-08

(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.

Interventions Delivery Target

To make sure that specified Jobcentre Plus labour market interventions take place within set timescales in 86% of cases checked.


Planning Assumption

IS Lone parent Review/Trigger Work Focused Interviews


JSA Interventions (JSA 13 and 26, 52 and 78 week interventions)


IB Interventions (Initial IB WFIs)


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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)—15 days, 10 days and 11.5 days respectively.

Fraud and Error

To prevent and detect overpayments and underpayments of benefit consistent with DWP’s aspiration for the proportion of expenditure overpaid and underpaid due to fraud and error as set out in the Department’s Business Plan for 2008-09.

Customer Service Target

To achieve an 86% customer service level in the delivery of the standards set out in the Customers and Employers Charters.

Employer Engagement Target

At least 92% of employers placing their vacancies with Jobcentre Plus will have a positive outcome.

Pension, Disability and Carers Service

To deliver an annualised value of new successful Pension Credit applications of £767 million and to secure at least 250,000 successful new Pension Credit applications.

Achieve an accuracy rate of 92% on new claims and changes of circumstances to Pension Credit.

Achieve an accuracy rate of 98% on new claims and changes of circumstances to State Pension.

Clear new applications and changes of circumstances to Pension Credit within an average of 15 working days.

Clear at least 95% of new claims to State Pension within 60 days.

The number of Disability Living Allowance / Attendance Allowance cases referred to the Tribunal Service to be no more than 4.5 %.

Achieve 82 % of customers satisfied with the service they receive

Clear new claims for Disability Living Allowance within 38 days, Attendance Allowance within 16 days and Carer’s Allowance within 13.5 days.

Reduce the cost of processing disability benefits to £34.35.

Achieve an accuracy rate of 94% on decisions on claims for Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance.

Achieve a financial accuracy rate of 98% for Carer’s Allowance.

To have at least 93% of calls answered by an advisor with less than 1% receiving an engaged tone.

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.

Reduce staff sickness absence to less than 8.2 average working days lost.

Child Support Agency

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Number of children

Maintenance will be collected or have been arranged by the agency on behalf of 790,000 children.

Total Maintenance Collection (Arrears)

Collect or have arranged £1,080 million in child maintenance between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009; of which at least £220 million maintenance will be arrears.

Maintenance Outcomes

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.

Uncleared applications to the New Scheme

By 31 March 2009, the volume of uncleared new scheme applications will be no more than 90,000.

The Rent Service

Service Delivery

To determine 94% of Housing Benefit claims with an inspection in 15 working days.

To determine 94% of Housing Benefit claims without an inspection in three working days.

To determine 94% of Pre-Tenancy Housing Benefit claims within four working days.

To determine 94% of Redeterminations within 15 working days.

To determine 94% of Fair Rents within 40 working days.


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.

Customer Satisfaction

To ensure that at least 95% of our local authority customers rate our service as satisfactory or better during the year.

To ensure that at least 95% of our Fair Rent customers, and those Housing Benefit customers that we inspect, rate our service as satisfactory or better during the year.

Valuation Assurance

To review in the first year of LHA 25% of Broad Rental Market Areas.

Value for Money for Service Delivery Teams


To increase productivity within the Service Delivery function by 2% by the end of the year.

Cost per case

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

Sickness Absence

To keep sickness absence below 8 working days per employee per year.


Coroners' Recommendations (Government Response)

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 Government’s 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 Gareth’s death,
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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 Pollard’s recommendations and to those of Mr. Andrew Tweddle, who presided at the inquest into Adam’s 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
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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.

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