Skip to main content

Social Fund

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of centralisation of Social Fund processing on (a) service to the public and (b) debt recovery; and on what evidence his assessment is based; (130177)

(2) how many calls to the Social Fund system have been (a) received, (b) answered and (c) completed in each office dealing with Social Fund applications.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide my hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie dated 29 March 2007:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions about the centralisation of Social Fund processing and calls to the Social Fund system. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The centralisation of Social Fund is being undertaken on a roll-out basis and is not due for completion until March 2008. Once this schedule is complete Social Fund will be processed from 20 sites throughout the country. As we are only halfway through this process (with some of the rolled-out offices still to migrate Social Fund work into their sites), it is too early to make an assessment of the impact of centralisation. The decision to centralise this activity was to address performance variation and to concentrate our staff expertise to improve service to our customers.

The revised standard operating model was introduced recently. This makes our service more accessible to our customers because our customers can complete the process in a single call. As a result we have seen an increase in Social Fund applications and payments and a widening of access to the Fund.

The debt recovery process remains the same for centralised and non centralised offices.

As the modernisation programme for advanced telephony is still underway, we do not have management information giving the number of calls received, answered and completed in Social Fund sites.