Skip to main content

Correction to Commons Written Answer

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Plaskitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I regret that the Answer I gave to the honourable Member for South West Bedfordshire (Mr Selous) on 4 February 2008 (Official Report, col. 863W) was incorrect, as it did not include a letter from Social Fund Commissioner, Sir Richard Tilt.

Letter from Sir Richard Tilt, dated 4 February 2008:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the average length of time for (a) a decision on and (b) a review of social fund claims from the Birmingham office in the most recent period for which figures are available.

As the Social Fund Commissioner, it falls to me to respond in relation to the work of the Independent Review Service (IRS). The statutory role of the IRS is to provide an independent second tier review of social fund decisions that have been made and reviewed by the Jobcentre Plus. Independent reviews are carried out by Social Fund Inspectors. The IRS does not deal with initial social fund decisions or first tier reviews, both of which are the responsibility of the Jobcentre Plus.

The average completion times for IRS reviews for the period from 1 April 2007 to 31 December 2007 are given in the table below.

IRS Reviews in Great Britain April—December 2007

Application Type

Average Completion Time in Working Days

Community Care Grants

11.8

Budgeting Loans

6.9

Crisis Loans for Items

10.2

Crisis Loans for Living Expenses

2.2

The average completion times for reviews in the IRS are measured in working days from the date a case is ready for review to the date the inspector issues the decision. A case is ready when the application for independent review is made correctly and the Jobcentre Plus has provided the relevant social fund papers. The figures are derived from all cases in which a full review was conducted and exclude cases outside the inspector’s jurisdiction.

The overall completion times (excluding living expenses) outlined in the table above include a period during which applicants are given the opportunity to participate in their reviews. Before conducting the review, the inspector sets out the facts of the case, the issues to be decided, asks relevant questions and invites the applicant to comment. Around 85 per cent of applicants participate in their review. The completion times also include all cases in which applicants or their legal advisers requested, and were given, additional time to respond to the inspector.