§ Mr. Ralph Howell
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set out the main improvements in economy and efficiency achieved in the Manpower Services Commission since 1979.
§ Mr. Peter Morrison
While total expenditure on the Commission's programmes and services is increased from £640 million in 1978–79 to an estimated £2,260 million in 1985–86 as a result of the introduction of major new programmes, such as the community programme, the316W youth training scheme and the enterprise allowance scheme, MSC staff numbers have been reduced from 25,300 in April 1979 to 20,800.
Major economies and improvements in efficiency in jobcentres have resulted from:
- —the abandonment of compulsory registration for unemployed people (1,300 staff saved);
- —a Rayner scrutiny of the employment service which resulted in a wide range of changes saving £8 million a year and almost 400 staff.
In addition recently agreed plans for the development of the employment service produce a larger jobcentre network with more advanced computerised vacancy handling arrangements leading to eventual savings of almost 1,000 staff and £8 million a year.
Professional and Executive Recruitment
Since April 1983 PER has been required to break even. It achieved this for the 1983–84 financial year and looks set to do so again this year. It now employes 290 permanent staff as compared with 770 in April 1979, but makes more placings overall.
It is planned to double—to 250,000—the number of adults trained under the commission's programmes within the current levels of resources available.
In order to ensure that the resources devoted to the direct provision of training by Government are spent cost effectively, the Government's main providers, the skillcentres, were reorganised in 1983 into the separate skillcentre training agency, and required ultimately to cover costs from trading income, in competition with other providers. The agency's proposals to enable it to do so from April 1986 will involve a significant streamlining of its operations.
Industrial Training Boards
Sixteen statutory industrial training boards out of a total of 23 have been replaced by more flexible voluntary arrangements, and the cost to the taxpayer of supporting these boards—over £60 million a year at today's prices—has been wholly eliminated.