The Social Security Minister, Senator Francis Le Gresley, has published the departmental review for 2013. This review 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.He has also released the latest five year actuarial review of the Health Insurance Fund. This review considers the projected income and expenditure of the Health Insurance Fund over the next 20 years.
The 2013 annual report provides a summary of departmental activity during the year. Senator Le Gresley explained: “The Department has made significant progress during 2013 against a backdrop of short-term and long-term challenges, including responding to record unemployment and preparing for an ageing population. The teams at the Department are working hard to address immediate issues, plan for the future and provide a high standard of customer service.”
Tackling unemployment remained the Island’s greatest priority during 2013 and the Department’s dedicated Back to Work team continued to deliver innovative initiatives to tackle the record levels of unemployment. For example, a new hospitality training programme in January resulted in 268 jobs being secured by unemployed Islanders, and October saw the successful debut of JobsFest which led to the creation of 109 paid positions. Over the course of 2013, Back to Work helped unemployed people into 1,818 paid jobs, up from 1,326 in 2012.
Work to ensure that the benefits system has the capacity to provide for a growing proportion of older residents continued in 2013. The Department introduced a new method for calculating the annual pension uprate which guarantees a pension increase that is at least in line with inflation without threatening the sustainability of pensions in the long term.
The Department also made significant progress towards the introduction of the new Long Term Care Benefit. A series of debates in December approved the details of the scheme which came into force last month.
A new law to provide protection against discrimination was approved in 2013, and race discrimination legislation will be in force from next month.
As well, as the departmental annual report, Senator le Gresley has also released the latest review, undertaken by the UK Government Actuary, on the Health Insurance Fund. This review considers the status of the Fund over a 20 year period from 2012 – 2032. In the short term, the Fund remains healthy, holding assets of well over £80 million. However, the review sets out the anticipated growth in primary care health costs over the next two decades, and indicates that action will need to be taken to maintain the Fund in the longer term.
Senator Francis le Gresley, said “The pressures on the Fund will grow steadily over the next 20 years. However, the reserves that we have built up give us time to plan for these additional costs and to adjust the scheme as needed as primary care health costs continue to increase.
Senator Le Gresley concluded: “The annual report explains the work of each section of the Department and gives people a real insight into what the Department does and its reach into the community. The review of the Health Insurance Fund helps the Department plan for the future of benefits to support primary health costs. It will also feed into the wider review of health funding that is currently taking place. Both reports also serve to better inform future debate in respect of social policy.”