HC Deb 16 January 1992 vol 201 cc636-7W
Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what modifications of benefit payment arrangements are made during the Christmas period; and what evidence he has of the extent to which the modified arrangements meet the wishes of claimants.

Miss Widdecombe

Arrangements for benefit payments are a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member and copies will be placed in the Library and the Public Information Office.

Mr. Ralph Howell

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what progress the Social Security Benefits Agency has made towards meeting the targets set out in the published business plan for 1991–92; and whether there have been any changes to the targets.

Mr. Newton

I am informed by the chief executive of the Social Security Benefits Agency that if current performance is maintained the agency should meet 19 out of the 21 key targets specified in the published business plan with performance improving in the remaining two areas—war pensions disablement claims, where the number of claims has been much higher than expected, and short-term benefits accuracy. This will represent a substantial achievement in the first year of the agency.

I have decided to revise four of the Benefits Agency's published key targets for technical reasons. Changes to two of the published social fund targets are necessary following the increase in provision for social fund grants and loans in 1991–92 which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State announced on 6 November. The revised targets are:

  1. i. to live within a gross budget of £268 million for loans and grants;
  2. ii. to recover £139 million in loan repayments.1

The agency's efficiency savings target for the current financial year has been revised to take account of lower than forecast average salaries and a small transfer of savings to the Contributions Agency. The revised target is: iii. to achieve cumulative running costs efficiency savings of £182.4 million, reflected in the net Budget figure.

I have decided to replace the ARMS Phase 2 milestone target. The ARMS—administrative resource management system—project has been subsumed within the FAMIS—financial and management information systems—project which is an overall strategy to integrate and upgrade the Department's finance and management information systems. The new milestone is: iv. to complete the FAMIS resource management user requirement by 31 March 1982.

1The new target represents the higher cash level of loan repayments which the Benefits Agency is expected to achieve as a result of the increased gross allocations for loans. We do not propose to increase the rate of recovery from individual customers or change their repayment arrangements.

Forward to