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Telephone Advice Lines

Volume 447: debated on Wednesday 14 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many telephone advice lines his Department and its non-departmental public bodies support; how many telephone advisers each employs; and how much funding is provided by (a) his Department and its non-departmental public bodies, (b) other Government departments, (c) the private sector and (d) the voluntary sector. (66583)

The Department for Work and Pensions and its non-departmental public bodies (NDPB’s) have a total of 28 telephone advice lines. The information that is available (from the advice lines where some relevant data are held) is included in the following table.

Funding information is not held on a consistent basis. We do not provide any funding for helplines run by the voluntary sector. The constructing better health CLG helpline run by the Health and Safety Commission/Executive receives funding from another Government Department, Department of Trade and Industry and from the private sector. The pensions regulator raises an administration levy on pension schemes and money raised from this levy is offset against funding provided by DWP.

The number of advisers shown in the table are full-time equivalents at March 2006 for those who spend the majority of their time answering calls.

The Pension Service (TPS) operates its telephony service as an integrated part of its business, and does not hold separate data on the number of telephone advisers nor is it able provide specific data for telephony costs alone. Other pension service helplines are run by private companies and, under the terms of confidential commercial contracts, suppliers are not required to provide information on staffing or budgeting information.

Debt management staff undertake both telephony and non-telephony duties, therefore separate data are not available for the number of telephone advisers or telephony budgetary information.

Helplines

(a) Number of advisers

DWP

Child support agency

CSA national helpline

454

DCS

Benefit enquiry line

70

Disability living allowance/ attendance allowance

316

Jobcentre Plus1

Employer direct

Not available

Jobcentre plus direct—jobseeker direct

527

Jobcentre plus direct—first contact

3607

National benefit fraud hotline

Not available

Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB)

Executive NDPB

Disability Rights Commission (DRC)2

40

Health and Safety Commission/Executive (HSC/E)

Health and safety infoline

70

Health and safety gas safety advice line

Incident contact centre

Workplace health connect

Health and Safety Executive/Freight Transport Association advice line

Constructing better health CLG

Remploy Ltd.

4.5

The pensions regulator

20.5

Other bodies funded by DWP

The pensions advisory service (TPAS)

4

Pension protection fund (PPF) (public corporation)

4

1 For national benefit fraud hotline and employer direct specific data on the number of telephone advisors is not available as data collected relates to all staff employed regardless of their responsibilities.

2 Helpline is contracted out.