HC Deb 22 July 1980 vol 989 cc207-8W
Mr. John Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many individual firms have been invited to complete the questionnaire on the proposals in the Green Paper "Income During Initial Sickness: A New Strategy", Cmnd. 7864; and, of these, how many were small firms with five or fewer employees.

Mr. Prentice

No questionnaires have been sent out by the Department on the Green Paper proposals. I understand that a survey is being conducted by an independent body, the Institute of Manpower Studies, on the initial responses to the proposals of employers who took part in an earlier institute survey, or who have recently changed sick pay schemes. Of the 72 firms approached, 32 have responded; none of these has five or fewer employees. I am most anxious to hear the views of small employers on the proposals and I and officials of the Department have already been in touch with representative organisations.

Mr. Grylls

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the staff saving he expects to achieve if the Government proceed with their proposals contained in the Green Paper, "Income During Initial Sickness: A New Strategy", and by how much these staff savings will be affected if all small firms employing up to 20 people are given the option of staying outside the new scheme.

Mr. Prentice

It is estimated that some 5,000 civil service posts would be saved if the proposals in the Green Paper were implemented.

It is not possible to estimate the number of staff required if firms with 20 or less were excluded from the scheme. However, there would inevitably be a sustantial erosion of our planned administrative savings. Furthermore, such an exemption would seriously undermine the scheme's objective of bringing 90 per cent. of all payments during sickness into tax and reduce the planned savings in public expenditure.