Headlines: May 2nd, 2000

More details have emerged about the new agency that will join up the Employment Service with parts of the Benefits Agency.A private sector businessman has been drafted in to oversee the design of the new ‘working age’ agency.

Richard Lapthorne, the chairman of Nycomed Amersham and former vice chairman of British Aerospace, also has experience working with government departments. He was a member of the Strategic Defence Review panel, and for the past eighteen months he has been working with the Navy Board producing its first long-term strategic plan.

The new agency will draw together the Employment Service and the parts of the Benefits Agency which support people of working age to deliver a single, integrated service to benefit claimants of working age and to employers. It will be established as soon as possible in 2001.

Richard Lapthorne will head the project team which will design and develop the agency. Based in the Treasury, the team will include civil servants from the DSS and the DfEE.

Its work will be overseen by a project board which will include Andrew Smith, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment and Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Social Security.

The chief executive of the new agency will be recruited by open competition later in this year.