HL Deb 26 March 2004 vol 659 cc49-50WS
Lord Sainsbury of Turville

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Gerry Sutcliffe) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that in the light of a strong performance by the Insolvency Service in 2003–04 I have been able to set it a series of challenging targets for 2004–05 and 2005–06 that reflect the general pressure on the public service to deliver increasing efficiency and value for money. Official receivers and their staffs have a major role to play in delivering the personal insolvency reforms under the Enterprise Act 2002 which come into operation on 1 April 2004 and the new financial regime to which it moves on the same date will provide the flexibility it needs to respond to variations in caseloads within financial years and over longer periods. Under this new financial regime the service is expected to generate sufficient income from fees and charges to defray the total cost of its case administration, estate banking and professional regulation activities. Improvement in its customer focus is reflected in high levels of customer satisfaction and I expect the service to build on this over the coming years. I have asked the chief executive to continue the development of a range of outcome-focussed measures, particularly in the regulatory area. At the same time as ensuring that its enforcement action is proportionate and aligned to the policies that promote enterprise and the responsible use of credit, I have also asked the agency to pay particular attention to its role in ensuring high standards of commercial conduct.

The targets set out below reflect the variety of the service's operations.

It will reduce the cost of its policy work by 9 per cent in 2004–05.

The agency will reduce the average time for securing a disqualification from 24 months to 22 months.

It will reduce the 2004–05 cost of enforcement activity by 4 per cent.

It will establish a benchmark unit cost for enforcement activity during 2004–05 and then further reduce that cost by 25 per cent by March 2006.

It will increase enforcement activity outputs by 41 per cent in 2005–06 over the 2004–05 baseline.

It will action 90 per cent of redundancy payment claims within six weeks and will increase the manpower productivity of processing such claims by 11 per cent in 2004–05.

It will increase the percentage of user satisfaction as measured by the user satisfaction index from 86 per cent to 88 per cent.

It will retain Charter Mark by summer 2004 and will retain Investors in People accreditation in January 2006.

It will maintain the amount of open insolvency cases at no more than 12 months' input and by 1 April 2006 it will reduce the case administration fee from that prevailing at 1 April 2004 by 8.5 per cent, on a like-for-like basis.

It will action 100 per cent of invoices for payment within 30 days of receipt, and 97 per cent within 20 days. It will also action 98 per cent of Insolvency Service account payments within four days of their requisition.

Based on an expected reduction of 6.3 per cent in 2003–04, it will further reduce the costs of the accommodation and procurement functions by 8 per cent by April 2006.