HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 cc212-3W
Mr. Dawson

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations she has received about the cost of the recent conference of War Pensions Agency staff in Windermere; and what assessment she has made of the value for money of that conference. [4150]

Mr. Denham

One of our key aims is that delivery of service should be simpler and more efficient. Queries on operational matters concerning the War Pensions Agency are for its Chief Executive Mr. Kevin Caldwell. I have asked him to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from K. C. Caldwell to Mr. Hilton Dawson, dated 7 June 1997: The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the recent conference of war pensions staff. The Secretary of State has received no representations regarding the conference. As Chief Executive of the War Pensions Agency, approval of a conference of this nature falls within my authority. My approval of the conference followed normal Departmental guidelines and I am content that the conference represented good value for money. The Agency does not maintain on-site facilities that would he appropriate for a conference of this nature. The conference, involving 26 delegates of all grades within the Agency, was designed to identify how the Agency could improve the levels of service offered to war pensioners. As you may be aware, the Agency has made significant recent improvements in service levels as measured against Secretary of State targets and to continue this improvement it is important that we seek to identify and resolve any significant barriers to service or performance improvement. The action plans and detailed task lists which were created will help the hundreds of staff in the operational group at the Agency to sustain improved performance. Another great advantage of this event was the opportunity to enthuse and motivate the people who attended—as an accredited Investors in People organisation we look for opportunities to do this. Events of this nature are extremely rare in the Agency (this is the first in my term as Chief Executive) and are strictly limited to circumstances where the benefit clearly outweighs the cost. I have no hesitation in providing my personal assurance that the conference represented good value for money. I hope you find this information useful.