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Archive for January, 2012

Speed of Processing stats: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

The Department for Work and Pensions has released the latest official statistics on Speed of Processing (SoP).

Speed of Processing measures the average times to process a new Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit claim or amend an existing claim as a result of  a change in circumstances.

Speed of Processing for Quarter 2 of 2011/2012. The key points from the latest release are:

  • The average number of days to process new claims for quarter 2 is 24 days and the average number of days to process a change of circumstance is 11 days.
  • The average number of days to process a Housing Benefit new claim for quarter 2 is 24 days and the average number of days to process a Housing Benefit change of circumstance is 11 days.
  • The average number of days to process a Council Tax Benefit new claim for quarter 2 is 24 days and the average number of days to process a Council Tax Benefit change of circumstance is 11 days.

Read the statistical release

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Skills Funding Agency: additional 19 colleges to receive funding

The CEO of the Skills Funding Agency, Geoff Russell has confirmed a further 19 colleges will receive funding under the Enhanced Renewal Grant.

These colleges had previously been unsuccessful as they exceeded the Agency’s main allocation of £100 million. However, additional funds have been made available to fund the 19 projects amounting to around £29 million.

Geoff Russell said:  “We are delighted that we can provide Enhanced Renewal Grant allocations to an additional 19 colleges. These grants are part of our continuing support and commitment to colleges and the modernisation of the FE estate.  This investment reflects the crucial role that further education colleges have to play in providing skills to young people, adults and businesses, providing regeneration to local communities and the economy.”

Forty six colleges were successful in the original application for the Enhanced Renewal Grant.

Click here to read more and view the list of the 19 colleges

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New claims for ESA

The latest figures on new claims for Employment and Support Allowance, which replaced incapacity benefit in 2008, have been released.

Here are some of the main findings:

Outcomes of completed initial assessments for claims started from March to May 2011 show:

  •  48 per cent of claimants have an outcome i.e. decisions have been made on

their claims;

  • 38 per cent of claimants had their claim closed before having a face to face

assessment; and

  • 14 per cent of claimants were still undergoing assessment.

Claimants with an outcome for their claim can be broken down as follows:

 

  • 43 per cent of claimants were entitled to the benefit. Within this –
  • 21 per cent of claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group

(WRAG), and

  • 22 per cent of claimants were placed in the Support Group (SG); and 57 per cent of claimants were assessed as Fit for Work (FFW) and are no longer eligible for ESA.

Read the full bulletin

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Latest Access to Work Statistics

New statistics have been produced by the Department for Work and Pensions on the Access to Work programme for the period up to the end of September 2011.

Access to Work is a specialist initiative delivered by Jobcentre Plus to provide advice and support to disabled people and their employers to help them overcome barriers to employment.  For example, funding is provided to help towards the costs of equipment, transport and support workers.

The key points from the latest release are:

  • Number helped: 24,340 individuals helped in the period April 2011 – September 2011.
  • Number continuing to benefit: 15,930 individuals continuing to benefit in the period April 2011 – September 2011.

 

Access the latest official statistics

Read further information about Access to Work

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Household benefits cap defeated in the Lords

The Welfare Reform Bill has completed its Commons stages and is now in the penultimate stage in the House of Lords. Ministers have already said a defeat in the Lords will be overturned in the Commons, but it seems that the bill will be subject to a ping-pong effect until an agreement is reached.

Most recently, the government has been defeated in the Lords in a vote on its plans for a £26,000-a-year household benefit cap.

This was an amendment that child benefits should not be included in the cap, and this was backed by 252 to 237 peers.

The government argued that the benefit cap will save £290m next year, with 67,000 families losing on average £83 a week.

Benefit cap proposals:

  • From April 2013, the total amount of benefit that working-age people can receive will be capped so households on out-of-work benefits will not receive more than the average household weekly wage.
  • this applies to combined income from the main out-of-work benefits – Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, and Employment Support Allowance – and other benefits such as Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Exemptions for households in receipt of Working Tax Credit, Disability Living Allowance or its successor Personal Independence Payment, Constant Attendance Allowance and war widows and widowers.
  • Forecast to save £290m in 2013-14 and £330m in 2014-15.

Read more on the current progress of the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords.

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

 

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Chris Grayling “really disappointed” at NAO report

The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a less than glowing report on the achievements and future of the Work Programme. In particular, it states the government has overestimated the number of people to be helped return to employment.

The National Audit Office report said 26% of over-25s would get jobs, compared with the official estimate of 40%.

The report also described the possibility that some programme providers will “cut corners to stay in profit” by ignoring harder-to-reach people. Additionally, some of the programme providers could get into “serious financial difficulty” while trying to meet their ambitious targets.

Chris Grayling said payment by results was “a totally new approach” and its success could not “be assessed in the same old ways”.

“I’m really disappointed that the NAO is producing a report which is partially based on guesswork, when it’s private companies and not taxpayers who are carrying the risks.

“Unlike the last government’s welfare to work schemes, we only pay when companies succeed in getting the long-term unemployed into sustained employment.”

Read the full report “The Introduction of the Work Programme”

Click here to read the response of a DWP spokesperson

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Will providers act unethically

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