To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what minimum standards of service he has approved for customers of the disability living allowance unit; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has approved the charter standard statement which was published today by the Benefits Agency. We welcome this statement, which sets out the business of the unit, advice on contacting staff and the minimum standards of service customers of the unit can now expect.The publication of the statement underlines and further extends the Benefits Agency's strategy of maintaining and improving standards of service to its customers by establishing targets for the handling and clearance of claims and answering the telephone and correspondence.By the end of June 874,000 claims for disability living allowance had been made. More than 848,000 claims have been cleared, resulting in 502,000 awards. Early difficulties following the introduction of disability living allowance have now been redressed and I congratulate the unit's staff on their efforts to overcome these problems.A copy of the statement has been placed in the Library.