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Departmental Correspondence

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the (a) target and (b) average actual time taken to respond to correspondence was of (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies in the most recent period for which figures are available. (284155)

With the exception of the Compensation Agency, the target for responding to correspondence (a) for my Department and agencies is 15 working days. The Compensation Agency works to a tighter target of 10 working days because of its closer direct contact with the general public.

Data on the actual time taken to respond to individual correspondence is not held centrally and to collate the average time taken (b), given the volumes of correspondence received, would therefore incur disproportionate costs.

My Department and agencies do however report annually on percentage of correspondence replied to within target timeframes. The most recent period for which performance against these targets is available is the 2008 calendar year, as set out in annex F of the Northern Ireland Office's 2009 departmental report

Performance for the period 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 was as follows:

Number of letters received

Percentage replied to within target

NIO core



Northern Ireland Prison Service



Forensic Science Northern Ireland



Compensation Agency



Youth Justice Agency