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IT Projects

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the information technology projects being undertaken by his Department and agencies responsible to his Department, including (a) the start date, (b) the planned completion date, (c) the current expected completion date, (d) the planned cost and (e) the current estimated cost; and if he will make a statement. [4403]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 16 July 2001]: A major programme of change is currently under way in the Department to modernise the way it delivers its services and to support the implementation of important new policy initiatives such as the reform of Child Support and the introduction of new tax credits. This programme requires extensive IT change affecting all areas of the Department.

A number of the projects to deliver this change programme are already under way and will continue into the next year. Plans for others, including the implementation of Pension Credit from 2003 and the replacement of the

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Department's outdated computer systems, are currently being developed. Finalised completion dates and costs for these are therefore still under development.

Modernisation projects are brigaded under the headings given in the table in order to facilitate the management of the Department's modernisation programme. The overall costs of the projects to support Working Age, Pensions, Child Support and other key welfare reforms are shown but it is not yet possible to show the IT cost component because contracts have not yet been let for many of the IT projects. Because of the number of projects involved under each of the headings, the dates given can only be a broad indication of the earliest project start date, and the latest planned and expected end dates. The dates given are overall project targets, and thus embrace the IT elements of the project.

ProgrammeExpected completion datePlanned cost (£ million)Current estimated coast (£ million)
Working AgeMarch 2003289726
PensionsDecember 200457432
ChildrenApril 2003914864
CorporateMarch 20058561,539


1. The increase in planned and estimated cost under Working Age project work from the information provided previously in response to PC 641/2001 is due to the Department's responsibility for projects which were previously the Department for Education and Employment. An additional factor in the increased costs is the number of additional projects which have come on stream since February, as well as revised estimates for Child Support reform.

2. The costs shown have the following characteristics: they do not include any increase for pay and prices over the period; they include IT and non-IT cost components relating to each IT project; they do not include on-going core costs which will be incurred once the projects 'go live'. Additionally, the figures are high level estimates which are consequently subject to change.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints in relation to Child Support Agency cases were received in (a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01 by (i) the Child Support Agency, (ii) the Child Support Agency independent case examiner and (iii) the Parliamentary Ombudsman. [4162]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 July 2001]: The number of complaints that the agency has received has decreased in comparison with an increase in the agency's caseload. Also, while the number of complaints referred to the independent case examiner (ICE) and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (PCA) has increased, this is also against an increase in the caseload of the agency.

The Child Support Agency only started to count how many complaints it received from 1999–2000. Prior to this, the agency only counted how many complaints were being cleared.

Agency caseload (as at March of each year)


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Number of complaints received by the agency


Number of complaints received by the Independent Case Examiner


Number of cases received by the Parliamentary Commissioner for


Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the rate was of non-compliance in (a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01 with payment of maintenance assessments by the CSA; what the backlog of cases is at the CSA; how many cases have been outstanding for one year or more; what the level of outstanding debt is in the CSA and what percentage of that debt is considered unrecoverable; and what assessment he has made of the level of accuracy in maintenance assessments. [4163]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 July 2001]: Compliance has improved; we have increased the number of fully compliant cases by 16.03 per cent. in 2000–01.

Average rate of non-compliance


There are 186,323 cases awaiting initial assessment and of these 47,209 are over 52 weeks old.

As of March 2001, the level of outstanding debt was £527,802,484. From this figure the percentage of debt that would possibly be uncollectable is 39.5 per cent.

The accuracy of the most recent action taken on cases was 78.5 per cent.

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many child support claimants have had to wait more than six months from the date their claim was submitted before their first payment is received in the last three years; [6296]

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Malcolm Wicks: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Mr. Doug Smith to Mr. Denis Murphy, dated 20 July 2001:

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) PFI and (b) PPP contracts have been agreed by his Department over the last five years; how many have been satisfactorily completed; and in how many has compensation been (i) paid and (ii) claimed for performance failure. [4598]

Mr. McCartney: The information is as follows:

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All the above, apart from the cancelled benefit payment card, are long-term service agreements and as such none has yet been completed.

The Department has not claimed compensation under any PFI/PPP contract to date.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how (1) many PFI transactions have been overseen by his Department and its predecessors in each of the last 10 years; what his estimate is of the cost savings made in each of these transactions in comparison with the public sector alternative; what are the outstanding payments to be made in relation to these transactions for each of the next 15 years; and if he will make a statement; [5718]

Mr. McCartney: I will write to the hon. Member.

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