Select Committee on Social Security Second Report


An outline of the purpose, staffing and method of operation of the central helpdesk

13.1  Throughout the period of the fieldwork and the adjudication a helpdesk was provided centrally in Leeds.


13.2  The helpdesk was staffed by one project officer from BA Security and either one or two adjudication experts from the FAMC Unit.


13.3  The helpdesk was set up to:

  • provide telephone support and advice to the interviewers on Benefit Review procedures,
  • provide technical advice on FAMC,
  • examine returned questionnaires and associated documentation, checking for accurate completion,
  • monitor the standard of document completion by each interviewer,
  • consider what further action, if any, was appropriate and refer cases for adjudication as necessary to the FAMC Unit,
  • examine cases returned from the FAMC Unit, categorising them as no change, customer error, departmental error, fraud, suspected fraud, or a combination of these,
  • prepare information concerning the outcome of each visit for input onto the database, and
  • monitor the flow of cases into the helpdesk from the interviewers, out from the helpdesk to the FAMC unit and back into the helpdesk from the FAMC Unit.

Questionnaire checking

13.4  Adjudication officers on the helpdesk scrutinised returned questionnaires and accompanying documents to identify those cases where the interviewer had obtained new information which indicated that adjudication might be appropriate. Such information typically consisted of evidence that the customer had provided incorrect details on their claim form, for instance details of earnings or composition of the household. Where there was considered sufficient evidence for adjudication the case was referred to the FAMC Unit with copies of the relevant documentation. The FAMC Unit was also notified of new information which did not indicate a need for adjudication.

Customer notification

13.5  In all cases where no referral was made to the FAMC Unit and in other cases where the FAMC Unit indicated that either a review of entitlement wasn't appropriate or a review of entitlement was carried out but resulted in no change to benefit, BA Security issued a "no change" letter to the customer and notified the FAMC Unit accordingly. In all cases where benefit was changed, the FAMC Unit notified the customer in the normal way.

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Prepared 4 February 1999