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Benefit Simplification Unit

Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the work of the Benefit Simplification Unit, with particular reference to (a) cost, (b) staffing and (c) performance to date. (72252)

When fully staffed, the Benefit Simplification Unit will have five full-time staff with additional input from senior officials. Gross costs during 2006-07 are estimated to be around £290,000. A secondee from Citizens Advice will also be joining the unit in June 2006 for six months, looking in particular at the customer interface.

Simplifying the benefits system requires action on many fronts, particularly among those developing and maintaining benefit policy and procedures. The Benefit Simplification Unit's role will be to act as a catalyst in driving forward simplification, challenging existing complexity and ensuring that the need to bear down on complexity is at the heart of future benefit design and delivery.

The unit published “Simplification: Guide to Best Practice” on 4 May 2006. A copy has been placed in the Library. The unit is now working to raise awareness of the simplification agenda across DWP and to embed best practice. Progress will be reported on annually in the departmental report.