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Pension Service

34. Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects the new pension service to come into operation. [36360]

Mr. McCartney: The pension service will be launched on 1 April 2002 and will offer an improved service for pensioners. It will be customer-focused and will give pensioners a modern, personalised, efficient service designed to meet their needs. It will also provide information for future pensioners to help them make decisions about their future pension arrangements.

It will comprise an improved local service nationwide which will operate in the community to provide face to face contact for pensioners.

The local service will also provide a visiting service and will support customers by working in partnership with voluntary organisations, local authorities and other Government Departments to provide a more joined up service.

This improved service will be rolled out over the next two years. In the interim, our customers will continue to deal with their existing social security offices.

The local service for pensioners in each Government Office Region will be located throughout that region. Support work for the local service in the north-east will be shared between the Stockton and Seaham pension centres.

Stakeholder Pensions

35. Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of stakeholder pensions have been purchased by his Department's target group. [36361]

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Mr. McCartney: The information is not yet available, however, figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) state that around 640,000 stakeholder pensions had been sold up the end of December 2001 representing over £1 billion of new pension premiums. Over 310,000 employers had designated a stakeholder scheme for their workforce by that date; a compliance rate of about 80 per cent. achieved within three months of the requirement coming into force.

Stakeholder pensions have also helped to stimulate the wider pensions market. In 2001, new regular premium pensions business rose by 52.5 per cent. over the preceding year to a total of £2.4 billion. Over the same period, single premium pension business rose by 2.7 per cent. to just over £50 billion.

The aim of our long-term pension reforms is to give everyone access to a good value pension arrangement, so that they have the chance of a decent income in retirement. Stakeholder pensions are part of those reforms. Targets for a particular type of pension are not appropriate. The suitability of a stakeholder pension for any individual is a matter for them to decide in the light of their particular circumstances.

Equal Opportunities

37. Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent studies he has undertaken to identify the obstacles facing women returning to work. [36363]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: A number of studies are carried out on behalf of the Department looking at families with children and specifically lone parent families. These studies have examined the obstacles faced by women and informed the development of initiatives like the new deals, which have helped nearly a quarter of a million women move into work.

The current Employment Bill will introduce further measures that will help mothers to balance their work and family commitments. This is good for parents, children and business.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he intends to reply to the letters to him dated 8 and 16 January from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. M. Willingham. [40325]

Mr. McCartney: I replied to my right hon. Friend on 1 March.

Retirement Age

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has considered plans to change the state retirement age from 65 years. [36523]

Mr. McCartney: No.


Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list all contracts awarded by his Department to Capita since 1997, stating (a) start and finish date of contract, (b) value of contract, (c) description of

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work to be carried out, (d) evaluation mechanism for successful delivery of contract, (e) penalty charges for failure to deliver and (f) if penalty charges have been incurred; and if he will make a statement. [39982]

Mr. McCartney: Until 2000 most records for use of consultants were kept by individual projects and programmes, rather than centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The available information is as follows.

Accommodation and Office Services (AOS)

(a) Start and finish dates:

AOS contractStart dateEnd date
North-west coast and Greater Manchester1 April 1999Extended to 31 March 2004
Tyne Tees and Yorkshire1 April 1999Extended to 31 March 2004
West Midlands and Mercia1 April 1999Extended to 31 March 2004

(b) Estimated total value for the three contracts to 31 March 2004 is £112.9 million.

(c) Services provided under each of these contracts are:

(d) The contractor is monitored against the standards of delivery stipulated in the contract. The contractor provides monthly reports detailing levels of service achieved. If the service level is deficient, service credits can be applied.

(e) and (f) There are no penalty clauses within the contract.

Winter Fuels Payments (New Rules)

(a) The initial contract was for one year from 5 May 2000 to 4 May 2001, with an option to run for up to five years—i.e. to 4 May 2005. To date there have been two one-year extensions—the current expiry date is 4 May 2003.

(b) Estimated value for the three years to 4 May 2003 is £16.1 million.

(c) Bulk issue of claim forms for winter fuels payments to potential customers, identified by the Department (as living within Great Britain); and provision of a helpline service to deal with inquiries and issue of forms to customers with potential entitlement from previous winters.

(d) and (e) Performance targets for service delivery were included in the contract, and liquidated damages set for failure to reach these targets. The detail of the targets set and the level of liquidated damages to be imposed for failure to deliver these are commercially confidential between the Department and Capita.

(f) To date, no liquidated damages have been imposed.

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Recruitment Services

(a) 13 July 2001 to 31 December 2002.

(b) Some £600,000 in total.

(c) To provide the Department's Human Resource Services with professional, independent advice and recruitment services.

(d) and (e) A range of quality criteria and control mechanisms are included in the contract, with post exercise reviews of administration, value for money and charging regimes.

(f) Not applicable.

Working Age Specification Framework

(a) Initially let from 15 October 2001 to 7 December 2001, then extended to 31 March 2002.

(b) £139,443.

(c) Support to provide a framework to ensure that Working Age Group is focused directly on activities that best contribute to the targets for which it is responsible.

(d) and (e) Payment for defined products, to time and standard. Unacceptable deliverables/products can result in re-work to correct at no additional charge to the Department, partial acceptance and pro-rata payment or, finally, termination of the contract.

(f) None.

Consultancy support to Pension Credit Project Central Design Authority

(a) Let from 4 February 2002 to 12 April 2002.

(b) Maximum value £198,000.

(c) Consultancy support to assist in key design tasks.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

User Tester to the Pensions Forecasting Project

(a) 19 November 2001 to 25 February 2002.

(b) £24,850.

(c) Capita analysed new business processes in order to establish their impact and any testing requirements.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

Private Sector Led New Deal—Solihull

(a) 1 August 1998 to 15 November 2002.

(b) £500,000.

(c) Provide consultancy advice and support to the Employment Service locally.

(d) The contract sets out the services to be delivered and the key performance indicators that have to be met. The contract manager is responsible for assuring that the services captured within the contract are being delivered. The contract sets out the remedies for non-delivery of the services specified within the contract. Performance management is undertaken by the contract manager who is responsible for working in partnership with the contractor to improve the levels of performance. Where appropriate the delivery of performance is directly linked to outputs/outcomes so in such circumstances payment is only triggered when the agreed levels of performance have been met.

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(e) and (f) The contract does not include provision for penalty charges and therefore none have been incurred.

Employment Services Estates Corporate Supply

(a) 6 May 1998 to 5 May 2002.

(b) £3 million.

(c) Advised on Jobcentre Plus pathfinder environment issues, acting as managing consultant for the Jobcentre Plus refurbishment programme in the Employment Services estate.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

New Deal Next Phase (progress2work)—Birmingham North

New Deal Next Phase (progress2work)—Birmingham South

(a) Both run from 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2004.

(b) £238,000 each.

(c) Establishing pathfinders for the first tranche of progress2work, targeting unemployed clients disadvantaged through drug misuse.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

Disability Marketing in the North-West

(a) 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2003.

(b) £168,000.

(c) Marketing support for the North West Disability Services.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

Access to Work

(a) 1 April 2001 to 1 October 2001.

(b) £184,000.

(c) Review of the Access to Work processes.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

New Deal for Disabled People (NDDP) Procurement Support

(a) 9 October 2000 to 22 December 2000.

(b) £127,000.

(c) Technical support during the NDDP procurement exercise.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

(d) (e) and (f) As above.

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