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Jobseeker's Allowance

Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the waiting time is for jobseeker's allowance claims to be processed in (a) the South-West and (b) Somerset from (i) contacting the contact centre and being given an appointment for interview and (ii) interview to receipt of benefit; and if he will make a statement. (63378)

In June 2006, the average clearance time for jobseeker’s allowance claims in the south-west region was 17 days, and for Somerset claims was 17 days. The average time taken for the contact centres to return a customer's call was within the target 48 hours within the region. The average time between contacting the contact centre and the claim being taken in the Jobcentre was two days.

We recognise that the delivery of jobseeker’s allowance in the south-west and Somerset are not as we would want and that is why we have put additional measures in place to improve performance. These include the recruitment of additional staffing and increased telephony capacity. These measures along with closer working within Jobcentre Plus have resulted in an improvement in average clearance time for the south-west and Somerset. Jobseeker’s allowance claims are now being actioned on the day of receipt in all processing centres. We anticipate the improving trend to continue.

We are also operating a fast track system for those customers in urgent need. Details of this have been shared with local stakeholders.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what special considerations are given to women wearing the veil regarding their suitability for employment when they apply for jobseeker’s allowance; and if he will make a statement. (85016)

There are no special considerations given to a woman’s suitability for employment when wearing a veil or any other specific item of clothing.