Written evidence submitted by the Department
for Work and Pensions |
Section 1. Introduction
Section 2.The role of the SDC and the future without
Section 3. Pan-Government mechanisms and governance
Section 4. Future Measures to embed sustainability
Section 5. Key Achievements
- The Department has a pivotal role in supporting
social and economic sustainability and reducing its environmental
impact. It has introduced guidance and toolkits for policy makers
and procurement and operational staff to promote and encourage
more sustainable proposals and outcomes. We are currently discussing
ways to ensure consistent implementation.
- The impacts of climate change on people will
shape not only what the Department needs to do to adapt its core
policy and operations so that it can continue to successfully
deliver its objectives, but also shape how it works internally
and across government to deliver effective solutions such as reduced
- In 2007, the Department published a 3-year SD
Action Plan and, in March 2010, a Carbon Reduction Delivery Plan
and Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Together, these explain
the overall plans for integration of sustainability within the
Department, and also how it plans to mitigate climate change and
adapt to its inevitable consequences. The Department has published
an SD Annual Report since 2001 setting out its progress and future
plans. All of these documents are available online.
- The Department has a recognised history of sustainability
delivery. It is deeply embedded within operational management
and the Department already meets, or is on track to meet, the
targets for Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE).
The Department recognises, however, that it has more to do to
fully embed sustainability within policy development, and work
is ongoing to address this.
- It is essential that we build on the good work
taking place across departments by more fully embedding sustainability
principles within pan-government policy development and governance
processes, and then ensuring compliance through firm leadership.
- This memorandum provides a summary of DWP initiatives
and views on further mainstreaming of sustainability.
SECTION 1 - INTRODUCTION
1. Sustainability is about meeting the needs
of the present without compromising future generations' ability
to meet their own needs, taking full account of social, environmental
and economic impacts in all decisions. The Department clearly
has a pivotal role in socio-economic elements through its work
to improve social inclusion, reduce poverty and support the most
vulnerable in society.
2. The Department also recognises that its policies
and operations have a considerable environmental impact and it's
responsibility to reduce that impact. Considerable work has been
done to embed sustainability principles within the Department
core policies, plans and operations. There remains more to do,
but if the mainstreaming of sustainability is to be achieved there
need a clearer and firmer focus across government.
3. The following paragraphs provide the Department's
view on the specific questions asked by Environmental Audit Committee.
SECTION 2 - ROLE
SDC AND THE
4. The Department appreciated the assistance
provided by the SDC on the wider aspects of sustainability, particularly
in supporting the principle of cross-departmental impact analysis
and mitigation. The Department was therefore happy to approve
the SDC's request to pilot their new Departmental Sustainability
Assessment (DSA). The DSA gave an independent opinion on the extent
to which embedding of sustainability had been successful and what
more could be done to ensure/assure integration. The SDC's very
helpful draft report has just been received and comments returned.
The Department believes there would have been value in the SDC
continuing this work in other key departments.
5. SDC's recent draft DSA made clear that there
remains room for improvement in embedding sustainability within
the Department's policy making. Whilst guidance and tools are
in place for policy makers, there is a lack of consistent application
of them and therefore insufficient evidence of impact analysis
and mitigation. Work is ongoing to address this, using the DSA
6. The Department found the process of the SDC
undertaking the pilot DSA very useful, as it gave an independent
view of the extent of application. The Department feels there
would be value in an independent audit, perhaps by National Audit
Office, into embedding across government.
7. The Department believes that the work of the
SDC was valuable in providing independent opinion on departmental
SD in Government (SDiG) returns. However, the protracted period
between the data period, its reporting cycle and the SDC assessment
meant that their comments could be up to two years outdated, many
or most of which had subsequently been cleared. For example, stating
that a department was x% behind on its energy target has little
value when, by that time, it is already known that a further improvement
has been made. Any future independent assurance mechanism (see
"Areas for Improvement") needs to be undertaken quickly
to have value.
8. It is impossible to identify savings accruing
from SDC recommendations, be they at an "embedding"
level or operationally. Many savings have been made (for instance,
£8million p.a. on energy) but these are attributable to many
SECTION 3 - PAN-GOVERNMENT
9. A long standing commitment exists to embed
sustainability throughout policy development and decision making.
This was addressed explicitly in the 2005 UK SD Strategy and subsequently
supplemented by additional requirements such as the inclusion
of carbon emissions within Impact Assessments.
10. The Department already meets, or is on track
to meet, SOGE targets for energy, water, waste, road travel, procurement
etc (see "Key Achievements"). It is now working with
key NDPBs to integrate their activities.
11. The Department is working closely with colleagues
in other departments to encourage the introduction of further
mandatory measures to ensure consistent appraisal of key sustainability
impacts such as carbon, climate change adaptation and social aspects
that need consideration within policy development across government.
12. The Department believes that the process
to assure this consistency is unclear and, whilst recent improvements
such as the sustainability Specific Impact Test have assisted,
governance and "policing" of appraisals needs to be
clarified and tightened to ensure that policy and strategy proposals
receive robust analysis. DEFRA have indicated that the "value
of the natural environment" will also need to be impacted,
although this is work in progress.
13. The Department also believe that the pan-government
governance process for sustainability requires streamlining to
ensure integration and consistency. Currently, sustainability
policy, operations and procurement, and climate change adaptation
are governed through separate programmes chaired and led by different
departments (DEFRA, Cabinet Office and DECC respectively). There
is no overall strategy which integrates these activities, prioritising
them as one single programme and therefore aligning expectations
on departments and avoiding duplication and gaps. The Department
believes that, ideally, a single overseeing Board should govern
the individual strategies and the overall programme, chaired by
a single department who would take the overall lead on the programme.
This would also streamline reporting structures and minimise duplication,
enabling departments to focus on outcomes.
14. Work is ongoing across government to identify
what it aims to achieve on social sustainability. This needs to
have a clearer focus and robust objectives to ensure that social
and environmental factors receive equal weighting in the development
of policy and strategy.
15. The principle of reporting through the SDIG
process is more than adequate to monitor performance. However,
the scope of questioning needs to remain static wherever possible
to give an accurate year on year picture of progress, with departments
being given adequate lead in periods for the gathering of new
data. The size and scale of departments also needs to receive
greater consideration, as each department has its own difficulties
in delivering against targets, increasing with that department's
16. It is essential that government and departmental
reporting is robust and transparent, particularly ensuring we
are well placed to meet the requirements of the International
Financial Reporting Standards and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.
Currently, SDiG provides a high degree of assurance by identifying
performance outside of expectations.
17. But there is no third party verification
of departmental returns. It is essential that independent audits,
perhaps by the National Audit Office, take place on sustainability
reports to ensure and demonstrate consistency and robustness of
data. There is the opportunity for this to be built into the new
SDIG process. It could, however, add to the length of the reporting
process, increase costs and will clearly need to demonstrate value
for money to the cost conscious public. This could be undertaken
through "system audit" of the processes involved in
departments and the sampling of actual data, thereby assessing
the robustness of the process whilst being relatively light touch.
This could allow the assurance to be undertaken quickly (i.e.
ongoing assurance of data throughout the reporting year) to maximise
18. As part of any reporting process it is important
to recognise past improvements, as these will always affect an
organisation's ability to deliver further savings. Currently,
there is insufficient recognition of current position when developing
future targets, which could be addressed by comparing performance
to best practice benchmarks as well as ongoing targets.
19. Integrated reporting tools are also essential
if we are to ensure that government is fully accountable for its
impacts. The Department is working closely with the Efficiency
Reform Group to develop a pilot Carbon Management Tool for government.
This is designed to be low cost (integrating within existing systems)
but to automate and streamline the process as much as possible
to enable departments to focus on outcomes rather than reporting.
SECTION 4 - FUTURE
20. A comprehensive impact assessment toolkit
has been developed by the DWP Sustainability and Climate Change
(SCC) Team and Jobcentre Plus. This was based on DEFRA's "Stretching
the Web" tool, but refined and enhanced to address specific
issues of relevance to the Department. The toolkit is aimed at
the earliest stage of policy development (where the greatest opportunity
exists to influence outcomes). It provides an initial assessment
of potential impacts scores them and produces a graphic (web),
providing a simple check that a comprehensive and relevant range
of issues have been considered. The SCC Team is working with the
Department's Policy Professionalism Capability Team to identify
how to embed the toolkit consistently across all policy development.
21. Adaptation to Climate Change is a key theme
being built into the Department's processes, both at the above
"embedding" level and also within business continuity
planning. This will ensure that potential climate change impacts
on policies such as Winter Fuel Allowance and the Social Fund
are considered, but also the potential impact on the Department's
operations and staff. Further aspects are identified within the
Department's Climate Change Adaptation Plan.
22. Autumn 2010 will see the installation of
a Combined Heat and Power unit in one of the Department's largest
buildings (Quarry House, Leeds) which will save £93,000 and
428 tonnes of CO2 per year. The CHP is funded through
the Salix scheme. The Department is working with the Carbon Trust
to identify other potential funding schemes for long payback low-carbon
initiatives such as solar, wind and biomass. It is also looking
at the potential to use feed-in tariffs to incentivise on-site
23. On IT, the Department's Data Centre is being
moved to a new energy efficient facility, and "thin-client"
technology is being introduced to replace PCs, and multi-function
devices to replace printers, scanners and faxes. Telephony possibilities
are also being assessed.
24. As part of the new DWP AWaRE campaign
(Avoid Waste and Reduce Energy) volunteer "Energy
Champions" are in place across the Department's sites to
ensure local engagement. In addition, the Environment brief is
being added to Health and Safety Committees or "House Committees"
to further integrate local ownership. To ensure opportunities
when replacing equipment at the end of its life are maximised,
the Department is working with the Building Research Establishment
to identify "best in class" equipment that could be
installed under the PFI or invested in under the "spend-to-save"
scheme. In addition, the Department continues to build home and
tele-working and low-carbon location choices into its Estate Strategy.
25. Further initiatives are identified within
the Department's Carbon Reduction Delivery Plan, supported by
its sign up to the Carbon Trust's Carbon Management Programme.
SECTION 5 - KEY
26. Energy use and carbon emissions reduced
by 23% in the last three years - 11% in 2007-08, 3%
in 2008-09 and 9% in 2009-10. This latter year is particularly
significant, with continuing reductions despite increased demand
for services leading to longer opening hours, more staff and more
IT. Per annum, this saves approximately £8 million
and 70,000 tonnes CO2 through a combination of
technical and "housekeeping" measures such as:
- joint campaign with Telereal Trillium to implement
no-cost and low-cost measures, challenge behaviours and encourage
- intranet based "Energy Pack" - good
practice guidance and reports to inform and encourage staff;
- "Smart Meters" on largest 600 sites
(90% of total electricity usage), adding gas and water readings
where possible, enabling "next-day" rectification of
issues and demonstrating campaign results;
- 41,000 national "spend-to-save" measures.
27. The Department was awarded the Carbon
Trust Standard this year, ranking it alongside well known
"green" organisations such as Marks and Spencer and
Asda. The Department is, we believe, the largest UK public sector
organisation to hold the Standard.
28. Water consumption reduced by over a third
(400,000m3) in the last four years, through a programme
of improved data collection, leak detection, installation of waterless
urinals and campaigns with staff.
29. The Department was awarded "5 out
of 5" for sustainable procurement (Flexible Framework)
in SDiG reporting period (April 2008 - March 2009).
30. Waste generation fell by 44% in the
last five years and recycling has consistently achieved 62-66%.
Particular popular is the intranet-based "swap shop"
where staff nationally advertise and swap surplus or wanted items
of office equipment/stationery, reducing waste and procurement
31. Road mileage has reduced by 20% (grey
fleet by 40%) in the last three years, and CO2
from road travel by 35% (8,000 tonnes).
32. The Department has won a number of awards
in the past few years:
- Mayor of London's Green 500 "platinum"
award (both 2009 & 2010).
- Short-listed for Civil Service Diversity and
Equality Awards 2010.
- Government Finance Profession Sustainability
- GO Excellence in Public Procurement SP Award
- Various Green Apple awards.
- Building Magazine Sustainability Award 2005.
- Premises & Facilities Mgt "Partners
in Sustainability" Award 2003.
15 October 2010
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