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17 July 2008 : Column 635Wcontinued
As part of the Department's programme to bring increased focus to the management and recovery of debt generally, the decision was made to transfer, from 2005, the management and recovery of Social Fund off-benefit cases to the Department's specialist Debt Management unit. Referring the outstanding Social Fund loans to Debt Management has enabled the use of their specialist skills in pursuing recovery from customers who are no longer in receipt of benefit.
This transfer of cases to Debt Management is ongoing, and has already resulted in significant recoveries on loans from those no longer in receipt of benefit, without a need to refer for court enforcement.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of crisis loan applications were alignment payments in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The available information is in the following table.
|Crisis loan applications for Great Britain|
|Estimated applications for alignment payments processed||Estimated proportion of applications processed which were for alignment payments|
Figures rounded to the nearest thousand.
The DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System (PBMIS) does not hold data on crisis loan applications by the reason for the application. However, the proportion of applications processed which were for alignment payments can be estimated from scans of crisis loan applications. Each such scan consists of applications processed in the relevant financial year and held on the Social Fund Computer System at the end of that year. (Each scan records the latest decision on each application; this may be an initial decision or a review decision.) These estimated proportions have then been applied to the numbers of applications processed obtained from PBMIS.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of (a) crisis loans and (b) budgeting loans were being repaid at (i) 12 per cent., (ii) 10 per cent. and (iii) five per cent. in each year since 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The information is not available for budgeting loans before 2006-07; or for crisis loans. The available information is given in the tables.
|Budgeting loans for Great Britain for 2006-07|
|Repayment rate (%)||Number of initial awards||Proportion of all initial awards (%)|
|Budgeting Loans for Great Britain for 2007-08|
|Repayment rate (%)||Number of initial awards||Proportion of all initial awards (%)|
1.Figures are based on (initial) awards made in each year, not on awards being repaid in each year.
2. Figures are for initial awards only. Awards made after review are not included.
3. The current standard repayment rates are 12 per cent, 10 per cent and five percent. These rates were introduced for applications received on or after 3rd April 2006. Some awards made in the early part of 2006-07 were for applications received before 3 April 2006, to which the previous standard repayment rates of 15 per cent. 10 per cent. and five per cent. applied.
4. When a standard repayment rate is used, the weekly repayment amount for a budgeting loan is calculated by multiplying the repayment rate by the weekly available income, then rounding to the nearest penny. For each award, the scan does not give the repayment rate, but only the weekly repayment amount and the weekly available income. The repayment rate calculated from these two quantities may differ slightly from the true repayment rate, because of the rounding of the repayment amount. To allow for this, the stated number of awards with a repayment rate of 12 per cent is actually the number with a calculated repayment rate of 12 per cent ± 0.05 per cent. Similarly, for the other standard repayment rates, 10 per cent ± 0.05 per cent and five per cent ± 0.05 per cent have been used.
5. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 1,000.
6. Proportions have been calculated using non-rounded numbers.
Analysis of scans of the Social Fund Computer System (SFCS) taken at the end of each month, showing Budgeting Loan initial awards recorded on SFCS during the month.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of (a) the number of computer devices left on overnight in his Department when not in use and (b) the cost of leaving computer devices on overnight when not in use in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: Statistics on the numbers of instances (and therefore any total related costs) are not available, and to obtain them would be at disproportionate cost. The Department for Work and Pensions recognises that PCs being left on overnight waste energy and as a result, instructs and regularly reminds staff to turn off PCs at the close of their working day.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff have access to his Departments IT infrastructure at their home. 
Mrs. McGuire: The information on the number of people authorised to work from home within the Department for Work and Pensions is not collated centrally. It is controlled and managed locally and the collation of such information would involve disproportionate cost.
In addition to those who work at home normally, the Department for Work and Pensions currently has 7,536 members of staff who have been supplied with an approved laptop computer that is able to provide secure access to the Departments IT infrastructure, for example to e-mail, from their home.
All remote access is provided via a secure electronic gateway that is provided by BT.
In addition to the secure electronic gateway, all of the Departments laptop computers have encrypted internal hard drives and access to any computer services provided by the Departments IT infrastructure, such as e-mail, requires the use of a personal access card that utilises Chip and Pin technology.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to his Department's proposals to replace progressively its IT contracts by 2015, if he will list (a) the contracts in place, (b) the value of each contract and (c) the expected date of termination of each contract when entered into; whether any costs are expected to arise from early termination of contracts; and what assessment he has made of the value for money offered by each contract. 
Mrs. McGuire: The IT contracts that the Department is progressively replacing are:
Standard Services Business Allocation (SSBA);
Integrated Communications Network Services Business Allocation (ICONS) contract; and
the Unity Framework Agreement.
SSBA expected spend will be £2.9 billion;
ICONS expected spend will be £0.9 billion; and
The Unity Framework Agreement allows for service orders to be let within it; the value of those awarded to date is £65.5 million.
The expiry of each of these agreements is as follows:
SSBA expires in August 2010, but can be extended to February 2015.
ICONS expires in March 2011, but can be extended to February 2015.
The Unity Framework agreement expires in February 2009, however contracts placed within that term may have an expiry beyond February 2009. The only contract that currently falls into that category is in respect of the Employment and Support Allowance, whose expiry is June 2011.
The Department has no plans to terminate any of these contracting arrangements earlier than the contracted expiry date. Should it become necessary, the SSBA, ICONS and Unity contracting arrangements have the appropriate provisions for early termination.
The SSBA and ICONS contracts prior to their agreement were benchmarked by external specialists; the resultant contracts have delivered substantial savings on IT costs and have also provided improved service levels for the Department.
The Unity Framework Agreement :
Which was itself the outcome of an open competitioncomprises multiple suppliers in differing categories; requirements being sourced through Unity are competed through the relevant category, thus driving out value for money for the Department.
Additionally, the SSBA, ICONS and Unity arrangements have Benchmarking clauses that can be utilised at certain times to test their value for money relative to the market.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many permanent staff in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies are classed as (i) staff without posts and (ii) part of a people action team. 
Mrs. McGuire: As at 31 May 2008 there were 368 permanent members of staff in the Department for Work and Pensions who were without a permanent post. The following table shows the number of staff in each business area of the Department.
|Business area||Staff without a permanent post|
Staff without permanent posts are actively engaged in delivering a range of departmental projects and duties while seeking a new permanent position. They are given priority for posts in this Department and other Government Departments.
This Department does not have any people action teams.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by special advisers in his Department in each of the last 10 years. 
Mrs. McGuire: Records of expenses are available from 1 April 2002 and are shown in the following table:
|Period of the claim||Amount claimed (£)|
|(1) No records available|
These figures represent expenses that have been incurred and claimed individually in respect of the special advisers concerned, as part of their role in supporting Ministers on official business.
Procedures for reimbursing staff expenses are set out in departmental guidance and are in line with the provisions set out in the civil service management code. The code can be viewed at:
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of his Departments budget and that of its predecessor Department was spent on research in each of the last 10 years. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Departments expenditure on social research for the last seven financial years is given in the following table:
|Financial year||Research expenditure (£ million)||Research expenditure as percentage of DEL|
|(1) estimated outturn for DEL|
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