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Crisis Loans: Standards

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in implementing the Crisis Loans Improvement Plan; and if he will make a statement. (163589)

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 6 December 2007:

The Secretary of State has asked me to respond to your question on what progress has been made in implementing the Crisis Loan Improvement Plan. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The Crisis Loan Improvement Plan involved a pilot which started in Sheffield Contact Centre on 21 May 2007 which involved working with Benefit Delivery Centres to provide decisions on Crisis Loan applications within three hours of the customer's telephone call. Due to the success of this pilot the process has since been extended to 12 Social Fund Centres, supported by eight Contact Centres answering all Crisis Loan calls.

The Contact Centres are able to move calls around the network to support demand. After three months 700 Contact Centre staff, supported by Benefit Delivery Centre colleagues are undertaking this work. As a result over 90% of calls handled in this way are now being answered first time.

In addition, the call logger system, which captures management information on volumes of calls and numbers of calls answered has been further developed and is currently being implemented in Benefit Delivery Centres and Contact Centres to ensure that sufficient staff are available to answer calls.

I hope this is helpful.