The Social Security Minister, Senator Francis Le Gresley, has published his Reports and financial statements for 2012 and 2011.
The 2012 Annual Report provides a complete account of all of the Department’s activities in one publication, combining information on all contributory and tax-funded benefits and services, previously published in separate documents.
Senator Le Gresley said: “This Report marks an important step forward in informing the public of the full range of ways in which the States of Jersey, through the Social Security Department, provides assistance to those in need and enables people to maintain independence in retirement and when otherwise unable to work.
“The Department has made significant progress in a number of service areas during 2012 against a backdrop of long-term challenges, including record unemployment and the needs of an ageing population. The team at the Department are working hard to meet these challenges, plan for the future and provide a high standard of customer service.”
Tackling unemployment has been identified as a key priority for government, and services within the department were bolstered throughout 2012 with new initiatives, coordinated by Back to Work. These initiatives improve support for jobseekers and encourage employers to take on people registered as unemployed, which resulted in local people being assisted into more than 1,300 paid jobs during 2012.
Senator Le Gresley added: “As a result of the investment in Back to Work, unemployment, while still high, has not increased as much as had originally been forecast, despite the loss of the fulfilment
industry and other high profile redundancies. The team has developed and will continue to develop the work which was started in 2012, particularly in its engagement with employers.”
Work to ensure that the benefits system has the capacity to provide for a growing proportion of older residents continued in 2012. The department introduced the Cold Weather Bonus, a new benefit that joins a number of others specifically targeting pensioners, and continued work on the Long Term Care Fund to be implemented in 2014.
A total of £318 million of pensions and benefits were paid by the Department in 2012, including:
£146 million to more than 28,000 pensioner households across the world;
£72 million in Income Support weekly benefit, supporting more than 6,600 families at any one time;
£27 million from the Health Insurance Fund to assist with the costs of 364,000 visits to the GP, the costs of the 1.8 million drugs prescribed by those GPs, and the associated costs of dispensing those drugs by local community pharmacies;
£14 million of short term sickness benefits, representing more than 543,000 days of absence from the workplace.
£187 million of Social Security contributions were collected, an increase of more than £9.5 million on the figure for 2011. As forecast, £7 million of this arose from the introduction of a new contribution of 2% for incomes between £45,336 and £150,000 as part of the Fiscal Strategy, alongside a reduction of the significant contribution paid into the Social Security Fund by taxpayers (£61 million in 2012) to supplement the pensions of low middle earning workers.
The pattern of reducing numbers of contributors over recent years continued during 2012 with an average of 51,400 contributors during the year, compared to an average of 52,200 in 2011.
The Report also provides analysis of the robust health of the Social Security Reserve Fund, with total assets of the Fund rising well above £1 billion during the year.
Under the management of the Treasury and Resources Department, through the Collective Investment Fund, investment returns to the Social Security reserve amounted to £98 million, while the Health Insurance Fund investment income for the year amounted to more than £8 million in 2012.
Senator Le Gresley commented: “The work of each section of the Department is explained in the 2012 Report and we hope that they will give people a real insight into the work that the Department does and its reach into the community, with an average of 1,000 customer visits and 400 telephone calls per day. I would also hope that the information provided will serve to better inform future debate in respect of social policy.”
The financial statements attached to the Reports include the results of the Social Security Fund, the Social Security (Reserve) Fund and the Health Insurance Fund.
The 2011 Report was not issued last year while the post of Comptroller and Auditor General remained vacant. The Reports are available from the States bookshop or can be accessed online at:
http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=989 (2012 report)
http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=986 (2011 report)
Category: Finance & Business