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Government Legislative Programme

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Paul Murphy): I am pleased to inform the House that the Government’s fourth session legislative programme will contain 14 Bills. Almost every one will affect Wales in some way.

The programme builds on the pre-Budget report with a focus on helping people meet the economic challenges they are facing particularly in this current climate.
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The Government will take forward measures to ensure fairness in our society, with fair rules, a fair say and a fair chance for all.

There will be two Bills with framework provisions:

Further information on these provisions will be made available after the Bills’ introductions.

A further six Bills at least will contain specific provisions for Wales, which will generally be provisions to confer the same powers on Welsh Ministers, in devolved areas of responsibility, as are being conferred on UK Ministers in those areas in relation to England. These are:

Further Welsh provisions may be included as Bills continue to be developed.

The Government continue to remain committed to delivering devolution through provisions in Westminster Bills and by using the Legislative Competence Order process.

Work and Pensions

Personalised Conditionality and Support

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): On Tuesday 2 December, I received Professor Paul Gregg’s report on the effectiveness of the conditionality requirements that are currently applied to working age benefit claimants. This report “Realising Potential: A Vision for Personalised Conditionality and Support”, was commissioned by my Department earlier this year.

The report is wide-ranging and ambitious and looks at the effectiveness of welfare reform and how more unemployed people, lone parents and people with a health condition or disability can access personalised help and be supported back to work. While the economic backdrop to the review is challenging it remains crucial to consider, debate and put in place further reforms to the welfare state to ensure we help as many disadvantaged people as possible to find work.

The report assesses the effectiveness of the current requirements that apply to the unemployed and to other groups. Evidence suggests that the requirements that apply to the unemployed on jobseeker’s allowance have been highly effective over the past decade. The work-focused interview regime that applies to other claimants has also had some success, but primarily for those closest to the labour market.

However, the report recognises that the numbers of people getting support are still low compared to the numbers who do actually want to get back to work. This means that many of the most vulnerable people are
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not accessing help that evidence tells us is effective. This denies the wider financial, health and well-being gains that comes from working.

The report makes a number of important recommendations around how to address the weaknesses that remain within the current benefit system to ensure more people can access support and get back to work. The report suggests that almost everyone claiming benefit and not in work should:

The report makes clear that the Department should not seek to realise this vision by expecting lone parents with younger children and people with a health condition or disability to be treated as though they were unemployed and be made to look for suitable jobs. This would be counter-productive, unreasonable and punitive. Rather the report recommends the creation of an entirely new sort of conditionality regime for people who have a good opportunity to secure employment with time, encouragement and support. People in this “Progression to Work” group should face requirements which:

The report also identifies some groups of people who should face no conditionality requirements whatsoever. These groups are lone parents and partners with very young children, carers with the most significant caring responsibilities and people with the most severe health conditions.

To realise this vision the report suggests that the right support needs to be made available, based on need rather than what benefit people are on. We also need to make sure those who deliver employment support, whether in Jobcentre Plus or the private and voluntary sector, have the right incentives to deliver the right support at the right time.

The Department warmly welcomes the report and will consider Professor Gregg’s findings very carefully and will respond shortly.

Copies of “Realising Potential: A Vision for Personalised Conditionality and Support” have been placed in the Library of the House.

Winter Supplementary Estimates

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the Department for Work and Pensions departmental expenditure limit will increase by £3,752,000 from £7,834,033,000 to £7,837,785,000 and the administration budget will increase by £1,292,000 from £5,692,537,000 to £5,693,829,000.

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Within the departmental expenditure limit change, the impact on resource and capital is as set out in the following table:

Change £’000New Departmental Expenditure Limit £’000








of which:




























-130, 393








(1) Depreciation, which forms part of resource departmental expenditure limit, is excluded from the total departmental expenditure limit since the capital departmental expenditure limit includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.

Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit

The change in the resource element of the departmental expenditure limit arises from:

Capital Departmental Expenditure Limit

The change in the capital element of the departmental expenditure limit arises from:

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Administration Costs

The movement in the administration cost limit arises from the changes to the resource departmental expenditure limit as noted in items i) to iv), vi) and vii).

Movements in Non-Voted Expenditure

The reduction in non-voted resource expenditure is due to a reduction in the cost of administering national insurance fund benefit payments. This reduction is offset by an increase in voted resource due to an equivalent reduction in income from HM Revenue and Customs to meet the cost of administering national insurance fund benefit payments:

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