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Social Security Benefits: Industrial Disputes

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what contingency plans he is considering to ensure the efficient and effective operation of benefit payments for the duration of planned industrial action by civil service unions; (230005)

(2) what assessment he has made of the effect on his Department’s published performance targets of planned industrial action by civil service unions; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what assessment he has made of the effect on pension and benefit recipients of planned industrial action by civil service unions;

(4) what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department’s budget of planned industrial action by civil service unions; and what adjustments will be necessary to ensure that his Department’s budgets balance.

Our contingency plans, which are flexible and proven, include prioritising our resources to ensure that our top priority—to make payments to our customers—is maintained throughout any strike action by staff. We will also maintain access to our services by telephone and wherever possible face to face.

Ninety-eight per cent. of DWP customers receive automated payments. Customers, including pensioners, job seekers, benefit claimants and those who rely on child maintenance payments will continue to receive the payments on which they depend.

The flexible nature of our business delivery and our business continuity planning will enable us to minimise the impact of industrial action on published performance targets.

Short-term periods of industrial action do not have any significant impact on the Department’s budget.