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Jobcentre Plus: Telephone Services

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many calls to the central 0845 608 8564 Jobcentre Plus number were made in each month for which records are available; what the average time taken to answer customer calls to the number was in each month; and how many calls to the number were terminated before being answered in each month; (127850)

(2) what the maximum cost per minute is of calling the central 0845 608 8564 Jobcentre Plus number from (a) a land line and (b) a mobile telephone;

(3) which sections of Jobcentre Plus have to use the central 0845 608 8564 Jobcentre Plus number to make inquiries with central benefits teams; and which sections have alternative numbers by which to contact central benefit teams;

(4) how telephone and fax numbers for central benefits teams are circulated to (a) Jobcentre Plus offices and (b) Citizen's Advice Bureau offices.

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 29 March 2007:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking about calls made to the 08456 088564 Jobcentre Plus number of the Department for Work and Pensions; the use of alternative numbers by Jobcentre Plus; and the circulation of telephone and fax numbers to Jobcentre Plus offices and Citizens Advice Bureau offices. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The telephone number 08456 088564 relates to Exeter, which we are currently converting into a Benefits Delivery Centre. The current telephony system only gathers limited management information. The information we hold shows an increase in calls answered each month from 6,426 calls in December 2006 to 7,385 in January 2007 and 7,770 in February 2007. However, the current system does not provide data detailing the average time taken to answer calls or how many calls were terminated before being answered.

An average call lasts about 4 minutes—the calls cost (set by BT) between 1-3p per minute (from a landline) depending on the time of day. Call charges from mobile telephones vary depending on the service provider.

All Jobcentre Plus offices in Somerset were given alternative direct dial telephone numbers for central benefit teams. In addition, an e-mail procedure has been established to allow Jobcentre Plus staff to contact the processing teams, to improve communication. This will be in place by Mid April. The telephone and fax numbers were shared with Citizens Advice Bureau offices by means of a leaflet issued in the week prior to the introduction of the 0845 number on 05 December 2006.

I hope this is helpful.