To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average length of time that clients in Benefits Agency offices have to wait in the office to obtain an interview. 
This is a matter for Peter Mathison, chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Barry Sheerman, dated 15 July 1996:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what is the average length of time that clients in Benefits Agency (BA) offices have to wait in the office to obtain an interview.
The information is not available in the format requested. The Benefits Agency does not specifically monitor the length of time customers have to wait to obtain an interview.
The BA commissions independent customer research and the National Customer Survey provides an independent assessment of customer perception of, and satisfaction with, the service they have received from the BA during the previous year. The 1995 results show that the average waiting time for the majority of customers is 15 minutes.
The BA Customer Charter sets the standard that customers should be seen by the receptionist within 10 minutes (or 30 minutes at exceptionally busy times). Initial waiting times have been monitored independently and results for October 1994 to September 1995, the latest figures available, show that customers are seen, on average, within 11 minutes.
The Charter, including the standard on caller waiting times is displayed in local office reception areas and local managers have the overall responsibility for ensuring that customers are seen within that standard.
I hope you find this reply helpful.