Department of Social Security (DSS), 1988-2001
The Department of Social Security was created on 25 July 1988, when the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) was divided by prime-ministerial fiat. The health and social security divisions of DHSS had never been integrated; only the personnel and resource management functions had been eventually merged, and the split of DHSS was readily accomplished.
DSS has overall responsibility for the payment of benefits (including non-contributory benefits) of numerous kinds, from maternity benefits to old age pensions, and for the collection of contributions under the National Insurance and Industrial Injuries schemes.
During the early 1990s, DSS underwent a substantial reorganisation, converting major divisions into executive agencies as part of the government's Next Steps programme.
The first part of the department's work to be devolved concerned rehabilitation and resettlement of homeless people: this work passed in 1989 to the Resettlement Agency, which continued to perform the function until a general disengagement from the work occurred in 1996 and the Agency was abolished.
In 1990, functions concerning the increased use, application, and supervision of computer technology in the department were delegated to DSS's Information Technology Services Agency.
In 1991, the functions centred around the collection and administration of National Insurance were devolved to the Contributions Agency, and the work of calculating and paying benefits was passed to the Benefits Agency.
In 1993, the Child Support Agency was created as an executive agency of DSS to perform new responsibilities concerning the calculation and provision of financial support for children from absent parents.
Responsibilities for the assessment and administration of war pensions passed to the War Pensions Agency in 1994.
DSS's work was now concentrated on policy development and long-term planning. It maintained a supervisory role over its executive agencies, and also oversaw the work of some independent bodies established by statute, such as the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority and the Pensions Ombudsman.
Department for Work and Pensions, 2001-
On 8 June 2001 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was formed from parts of the former DSS and the Department for Education and Employment, and the Employment Service. The DWP is the government department responsible for welfare. It works with people of working age, employers, disabled people, pensioners, families and children, providing services through a number of executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies.
The DWP was set up to help unemployed people of working age into work, to help employers to fill their vacancies, and to provide financial support to people unable to help themselves through back to work programmes. The department also administered the Child Support system, social security benefits and the social fund, and additionally the department also had reciprocal social security arrangements with other countries.
In April 2002 the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service were replaced by the Jobcentre Plus network (responsible for helping to find jobs and paying benefits to people of working age), and the Pension Service (to administer the Benefit Agency's pension-related services).
The DWP is aso responsible for the following Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs):
- Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission;
- Disability Employment Advisory Committee (DEAC);
- Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board;
- Equality 2025;
- Health and Safety Executive;
- Industrial Injuries Advisory Council;
- Independent Living Funds;
- National Employment Panel;
- Pension Protection Fund;
- Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman;
- Pensions Ombudsman;
- Remploy Ltd;
- Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC);
- The Pensions Advisory Service;
- The Pensions Regulator.
The DWP is also responsible for the Disability Employment Advisory Committee and the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board, which are both advisory NDPBs.
Before 2008, the DWP was also responsible for the National Employment Panel, which closed on 31 March 2008 and merged with the Sector Skills Development Agency to be succeeded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills which reports to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.