HC Deb 28 March 2003 vol 402 cc30-1WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Miss Melanie Johnson)

The Insolvency Service's planning assumption is that compulsory insolvencies will total 33,000 in the year to 31 March 2004, and I have therefore set it the target of completing 26,000 case administrations in the year to 31 March 2004. This figure takes into account plans for Official Receivers to retain more cases with assets in order to ensure increased payments to creditors.

I have also set it targets for 2003–04 of containing an increase in the unit costs of administering bankruptcy and compulsory liquidation cases to plus 1 per cent. in real terms from the baseline of 2001–02; and containing the increase in the cost of investigations of bankruptcy and compulsory liquidation cases by plus 10 per cent, in real terms from the baseline of 2001–02. The increases reflect investment in staff and IT ahead of the implementation of the Enterprise Act. The investment is expected to lead to a reduction in unit costs over the next 4 years.

As part of its role in securing confidence in the market I expect the Insolvency Service to investigate and report financial misconduct, to assist in the prosecution of criminal offences and to bring proceedings for disqualification in all cases where that is in the public interest. I also expect the Service to reduce the average time of concluding disqualification proceedings from 26 months to 25 months by 31 March 2004; and to increase the percentage of disqualification cases concluded within 30 months from 78 to 84 per cent, and those within 24 months from 40 to 45 per cent.

I have set the Service a target to improve the benchmark score for the Service's User Satisfaction Index, introduced in 2002–03, to 84 per cent, by 31 March 2004 and to publish its survey results quarterly.

The Service is also expected to: Check and action at least 98 per cent, of Insolvency Services Account payment requisitions within 4 days or the due date, and Action 100 per cent of invoices for payment within 30 days of receipt and improve the percentage of invoices for payment within 20 days from 95 to 97 per cent. Action 80 per cent, of redundancy payments claims within 6 weeks.

The Chief Executive is also required to reply to correspondence from Members of Parliament within ten working days.

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