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Firefighter Pensions

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has today published a consultation document setting out proposals for new financial arrangements for firefighter pensions.

The Firefighters Pension Scheme is currently financed on a "pay-as-you-go" system. This means that employees' contributions are paid into fire and rescue authorities' operating accounts from which pensions awards are made. Authorities receive funding from central government to support pension payments as part of formula grant.

The current system for financing firefighter pensions can cause volatility in pension expenditure as a result of lump-sum retirement payments. It can also be difficult to establish what proportion of budget and council tax increases is the result of rising pension costs as opposed to the cost of running the service. Further, over time the forecast growth in pension costs would see pension expenditure rise as a proportion of authorities' budgets.

The new financial arrangements we are proposing are based on employer contributions and are similar to those used for other unfunded public service pension schemes such as those for teachers, civil servants, NHS staff and the Armed Forces.

The new arrangements would mean that employee contributions and a new employer's contribution would be paid into a new local pension account, from which pensions payments would be made. Government would make up the shortfall as necessary. At the outset, appropriate adjustments would be made in the level of grant so that neither local nor national taxpayers would be disadvantaged.

The new arrangements would be for both the existing and new firefighter pension schemes, but would have no impact on the terms and conditions of either scheme.

Consulting on these proposals is part of the Government's commitment to review the financial arrangements for firefighter pensions which was made in the 2003 White Paper Our Fire and Rescue Service and reiterated in the 2004–05 and 2005–06 fire and rescue service national frameworks.
 
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Copies of the consultation document have been sent to fire and rescue service stakeholders, including chief fire officers, chairs of fire and rescue authorities, the LGA and the Fire Pensions Committee. The consultation period will be for 12 weeks and will close on 3 May 2005.

Copies of the 2005–06 national framework are available in the Libraries of the House.

Food Standards Agency: Annual Report and Accounts 2003–04

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health (Ms Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Food Standards Agency's Annual Report and Accounts 2003–04 was laid before Parliament today.

Copies will be placed in the Library.

Care Services: Regulatory Fees

Lord Warner: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Community (Dr Stephen Ladyman) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Increased fees for registration and inspection will be charged by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and the Healthcare Commission from April 2005. These are set out in the table. The fees for CSCI are subject to an across-the-board increase of 20 per cent over 2004–05 levels. The fees for the Healthcare Commission are subject to variable increases for different services: registration fees are subject to an across-the-board increase of 50 per cent and increases in inspection fees range from 20 per cent to 55 per cent over 2004–05 levels.

It is the Government's firm policy that we should move to a position where the recurrent costs of providing regulation are fully recovered from service providers. The fee increases for 2005–06 are part of this process.

The Government are tackling the issue of how much regulation costs overall, and this will ultimately limit what providers will pay in future. We are also working with the inspectorates to ensure regulatory services are provided as cost effectively as possible and working with public commissioners of care to ensure they understand regulatory costs are a legitimate part of the cost of providing care and need to be reflected in fees.

Individual letters are being sent to all providers of care services regulated by CSCI and the Healthcare Commission to notify them about the increases.
 
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Fees for registration and inspection 2005–06 (2004–05 in brackets) Commission for Social Care Inspection


ServiceProviderregistrationManagerregistrationMinor variationVariationrequiring visit
Care homes£1,901 (£1,584)£518 (£432)£86 (£72)£950 (£792)
Small care homes and adult placement carers£518 (£432)N/A£86 (£72)£518 (£432)
Children's homes£1,901 (£1,584)£518 (£432)£86 (£72)£950 (£792)
Small children's homes£518 (£432)N/A£86 (£72)£518 (£432)
Residential family centres£1,584 (£1,320)£432 (£360)£72 (£60)£792 (£660)
Small residential family centres£432 (£360)N/A£72 (£60)£432 (£360)
Domiciliary care agencies£1,584 (£1,320)£432 (£360)£72 (£60)£792 (£660)
Small domiciliary care agencies£432 (£360)N/A£72 (£60)£432 (£360)
Nurses agencies£1,584 (£1,320)£432 (£360)£72 (£60)£792 (£660)
Small nurses agencies£432 (£360)N/A£72 (£60)£432 (£360)
Voluntary adoption agencies principal office and branches£1,320 (£1,100)N/A£60 (£50)£660 (£550)
VAAs with small principal office or branch£360 (£300)N/A£60 (£50)£360 (£300)
Adult placement schemes£1,901 (£1,584)£518 (£432)£86 (£72)£950 (£792)
Small adult placement schemes£518 (£432)N/A£86 (£72)£518 (£432)

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Annual Fees


ServiceFlat rateApprovedplace from4th to 29thApprovedplaceover 30th
Care homes£259 (£216)£86 (£72)£86 (£72)
Small care homes and adult placements£173 (£144)N/AN/A
Children's homes£864 (£720)£86 (£72)£86 (£72)
Small children's homes£864 (£720)N/AN/A
Boarding schools and FE£432 (£360)£26 (£21.60)£13 (£10.80)
Residential special schools£691 (£576)£69 (£57.60)£35 (£28.80)
Residential family centres£576 (£480)£72 (£60)£72 (£60)
Domiciliary care agencies£1,080 (£900)N/AN/A
Small domiciliary care agencies£540 (£450)N/AN/A
Nurses agencies£720 (£600)N/AN/A
Small nurses agencies£360 (£300)N/AN/A
Voluntary adoption agencies£600 (£500)N/AN/A
VAA branches£600 (£500)N/AN/A
Small voluntary adoption agencies£300 (£250)N/AN/A
Small VAA branches£300 (£250)N/AN/A
Adult Placement Schemes£1,728 (£1,440)N/AN/A
Small Adult Placement Schemes£864 (£720)N/AN/A

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Healthcare Commission


ServiceNew Fee
Provider registration£2,376 (£1,584)
Provider registration (small establishments)£648 (£432)
Manager registration£648 (£432)
Variation requiring visit£1,188 (£792)
Variation requiring visit (small establishments)£648 (£432)
Minor variation£108 (£72)


Annual Fees


ServiceFlat rateApprovedplace from4th to 29thApprovedplace over30th
Hospices£259 (£216)£86£86
Acute hospital or mental health hospital£5,580 (£3,600)£223£112
Hospital using prescribed techniques or prescribed technology£1,566 (£1,080)£209£104
Hospital providing listed services£1,944 (£1,440)£194£97
Independent clinic or independent medical agency£1,944 (£1,440)N/AN/A


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