(2) whether there is a target in place for the length of time taken to process an application for a community care grant;
(3) whether applications made to the Social Fund can be fast tracked under exceptional circumstances;
(4) whether there is a target in place for the length of time taken to process an application to the Social Fund via the Social Fund hotline.
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 19 March 2007:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking whether there are targets in place for the length of time taken to process an application to the Social Fund via the Social Fund hotline, for the length of time taken to process an application for a community care grant, and whether applications made to the Social Fund can be fast tracked under exceptional circumstances. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus has a number of targets that are agreed with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, supported by a suite of Key Management Indicators (KMI) that set the expected standards of delivery.
The KMI relating to Social Fund applications requires Crisis Loans (whether taken by telephone or otherwise) to be dealt with within an actual average clearance time of two days. Where the application is for living expenses however this must, wherever possible, be dealt with on the day that the application is made. For Community Care Grants, the KMI specifies that applications be processed within an actual average clearance time of nine days.
All applications to the Social Fund are dealt with as quickly as possible. Whilst there is no specific fast track system, staff are expected to treat each individual application on its merits to give sympathetic consideration to any exceptional circumstances faced by the customer.
I hope this is helpful,
Jobcentre plus does not have a social fund hotline and does not actively promote the social fund to the public. However, material is produced to signpost customers to the correct channels if they wish to make or pursue an enquiry or make an application.
During the last 12 months £289,746.84 has been spent on signposting for the social fund.