Today, I am pleased to announce that Jobcentre Plus is to introduce enhanced services across the country for people who wish to apply for working age benefits.
In response to feedback from customers, staff and key stakeholders, Jobcentre Plus has been testing improved services in parts of North Lincolnshire since 27 February 2006 and parts of London since 24 April specifically designed to improve the customer's experience when applying for working age benefits.
These changes have proven effective and have been well received in the pilot area. Therefore in the early part of 2007 Jobcentre Plus will start to introduce the following improvements nationally.
The introduction of a 0800 telephone number for all people making new claims to working age benefits. Currently the initial call to an 0845 number is made at the customer's expense;
Customers will only need to have one telephone conversation with a Contact Centre Adviser to make their application. Currently there are two;
We will introduce fast-track procedures for people making repeat claims and for people who do not require an immediate work focused interview; and
Faster access to improved information and advice to help customers access the service they need.
These enhancements, along with administrative changes, will improve and simplify the service we offer to our customers and provide speedier access to the help they need to get into work as soon as possible.