§ Charlotte Atkins
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what is the overall level of sickness absence in the Civil Service. 
§ Dr. Jack Cunningham
The average level of sickness absence in 1997 was unchanged from 1996 at 8.5 days per person (10.4 days per staff year). This is broadly in line with the level in the economy as a whole.
I have placed in the Libraries of the House copies of the report on Sickness Absence in the Civil Service during 1997, which contains a comprehensive analysis of the figures about the Civil Service. This report was prepared for my Department by BMI Health Services.
My Department is discussing with Departments and Agencies how they can achieve the targets of reducing sickness absence in the Civil Service by 20 per cent. by 2001 and 30 per cent. by 2003 which were set following the July 1998 report "Managing Attendance in the Public Sector". I shall receive regular reports on progress.