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Employment and Support Allowance

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average time taken to process (a) an employment support allowance (ESA) claim where a medical certificate was required and (b) an ESA claim where a repeat or duplicate request for a medical certificate was made was in the latest period for which figures are available, broken down by benefit delivery centre; (293414)

(2) how many requests have been made for medical certificates for the purpose of processing employment support allowance (ESA) claims in the most recent period for which figures are available; and how many duplicate or repeat requests have been made for medical certificates for the purpose of processing ESA claims, broken down by benefit delivery centre in each case.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking what the average time taken to process (a) an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim where a medical certificate was required and (b) an ESA claim where a repeat or duplicate request for a medical certificate was made in the latest period for which figures are available, broken down by benefit delivery centre; and how many requests have been made for medical certificates for the purpose of processing Employment and Support Allowance claims in the most recent period for which figures are available; and how many duplicate or repeat requests have been made for medical certificates for the purpose of processing ESA claims, broken down by benefit delivery centre in each case. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Performance against our average processing time targets are published on the Jobcentre Plus external website. The clearance times for Employment and Support Allowance are not yet part of Jobcentre Plus's targets. They will form part of the published target suite from April 2010 and will be placed on the website shortly afterwards.

The reason for the delay in publishing the official figures is because it is necessary for Jobcentre Plus to first collect an appropriate amount of performance data with which to inform and set a relevant target level.

We are currently exploring whether we can develop some official statistics on processing times for Employment and Support Allowance new claims in the near future.

Jobcentre Plus does not collate any information on requests for medical certificates so we are unable to supply the information requested with relevance to this element.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of those who stopped claiming employment and support allowance before their assessment was completed were (a) in work, (b) claiming jobseeker's allowance (JSA) and (c) not recorded as being in work or claiming JSA up to the end of August 2009. (294741)

[holding answer 21 October 2009]: The information is not available in the form requested. However, statistics published last week showed that between October 2008 and February 2009 38 per cent. of new claimants to employment and support allowance stopped claiming benefit before the work capability assessment in their case was completed.