Select Committee on Social Security Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Note submitted by the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency (CS 53)


  "Face to Face" will produce significant service and performance improvements. The number of staff available for providing an interviewing service for our customers will increase from approximately 120 to 600.

  Following the success of a trial in 17 of our Field offices in 1998, roll out of the initiative began this year and will be available nation wide by March 2000. During the trial 88 per cent of customers who responded to a questionnaire thought the service they received was either good or very good. Although most interviews were held in local DSS premises, convenient for the customer, 20 per cent of the interviews were conducted at the customer's home and other interviews were conducted in Citizen 's Advice Bureau offices, customers' places of employment and at their accountant or solicitor's office.

  As a result of adopting this initiative nation wide we will be able to interview more customers at times of the day and at locations convenient to them.

  To deliver these improvements we have set ourselves challenging targets based on what we believe our customers have a right to expect. We aim to ensure that interviews are conducted within 10 working days of notification to Face to Face staff that an interview is required. Interviews will be arranged at times convenient for our customers, and we will make sure the appointments give them the time they need to gather any information they wish to bring and make any arrangements to attend. Full details of the targets are included in Annex 1.

  Our intention is that Face to Face staff will be available to see customers where and when they want to be seen, at locations convenient to them. These could include the customer's home, BA local offices, CAB offices, or at their place of employment. Staff will be based at 88 Local Service Bases to allow them to operate in geographical areas and travel to visit our customers. We will be making use of arrangements already in place in Benefits Agency to ensure interpreters and officers proficient in sign language will be available where required during interviews.

  To help our staff provide an efficient modern service we are equipping them with the latest Information Technology. Staff will use mobile telephones, laptop computers with printers, scanners and remote access fax and e-mail facilities.

  This represents a significant step forward in customer service and will enable us to:

    —  contact customers early in the maintenance application process;

    —  keep them informed at all subsequent stages;

    —  make maximum use of the telephone in initiating and maintaining this contact;

    —  build effective relationships with our customers leading to increased natural compliance.

  Annex 1 is a list of our current Face to Face targets.

  Annex 2 to this paper lists those LSBs that are already providing a Face to Face service along with their phone numbers. It includes details of when the remainder are expected to open for business. These locations and roll out dates are to some extent fluid and changes may occur as organisational and accommodation issues are addressed.

  Annex 3 is a map of Great Britain showing the locations of the LSBs [not printed].

Annex 1

  The targets for the Face to Face service will be:

    —  Officers receiving request for interview to have made a referral to Face to Face staff within two working days of a request being received.

    —  Local Co-ordinators to have arranged the interview within two working days of receipt of the referral.

    —  Interviews to be conducted within 10 working days of the referral being received.

    —  Interview Report form to be sent back to the Instigating Officer within two working days.

    —  CSA Centre to impact the findings of the interview on the case within 10 working days of receipt.

Annex 2




Local Service Base Service Available fromTelephone
AberystwythOpen for business 01970 653871
NewtonOpen for business 01686 863071
Swansea4 October 1999 01792 450373
Pontypridd4 October 1999 01443 484788
Newport4 October 1999 01633 241756
Wrexham1 November 1999
Caernarfon1 November 1999
Rhyl1 November 1999
Haverfordwest3 April 2000

North West

Local Service BaseService Available from Telephone
WirralOpen for business 0151 649 1038
Bury4 October 19990161 762 2035
Huyton4 October 1999 0151 443 6565
Salford1 November 1999
Skelmersdale6 December 1999
Carlisle10 January 2000
Blackpool3 April 2000
Lancaster10 April 2000
Kendal10 April 2000
Barrow10 April 2000

South Western Business Unit

Local Service BaseService Available from Telephone
Truro1 October 1999 01872 355150
Plymouth1 October 1999 01752 761659
Barnstaple1 October 1999 01872 355150
Exeter1 October 1999 01752 761659
Taunton1 October 1999 01823 349130
Bristol1 October 1999 0117 958857
Gloucester1 October 1999 01823 349130
Weymouth1 October 1999 01202 712638
Southampton1 October 1999 01703 713860
Poole1 October 1999 01202 712638
Isle of Wight1 October 1999 01703 713860
Portsmouth1 October 1999 01705 308203
Worthing1 October 1999 01705 308203
Guildford1 October 1999 01483 442517
Redhill1 October 1999 01737 775885
Hounslow1 October 1999 0181 607 1684
Basingstoke1 October 1999 01256 726941
Swindon1 October 1999 01793 489616

South Eastern Business Unit

Local Service BaseService Available from Telephone
CanterburyOpen for business 01227 596892
HighgateOpen for business 013990 43358
Gravesend1 October 1999 01474 592720
Acton1 November 1999
Basildon1 November 1999
Colchester1 November 1999
Croydon1 November 1999
Brixton1 November 1999
Hastings1 November 1999
Ilford1 November 1999
Lewisham1 November 1999

Eastern Business Unit

Local Service BaseService Available from Telephone
BradfordOpen for business 01274 336584
PeterboroughOpen for business 01733 296533
NorthamptonOpen for business 01604 446109
St AlbansOpen for business 01727 773429
LeicesterOpen for business 0116 252931
Hull1 October 19990142 584609
Doncaster1 October 1999 01302 503651
Lincoln1 November 1999
Nottingham1 November 1999
Sutton in Ashfield1 November 1999
Ipswich1 December 1999
Cambridge1 December 1999
Norwich1 December 1999
Scarborough1 December 1999
Pontefract1 December 1999

Midlands Business Unit

Local Service BaseService Available from Telephone
LichfieldOpen for business 01543 513835
DudleyOpen for business 01384 482885
Birmingham27 September 1999 0121 253 8881
Hanley11 October 1999 01782 224562
Telford30 November 1999
Chester7 February 2000
Milton Keynes7 February 2000
Banbury14 February 2000
Stockport6 March 2000

Scotland and North East Business Unit

Local Service BaseService Available from Telephone
EdinburghOpen for business 0131 222 6416
GalashielsOpen for business 01896 612468
WickOpen for business 01955 673142
IrvineOpen for business 01294 314508
GlasgowOpen for business 01294 314508
CambeltownOpen for business 01294 314508
ObanOpen for business 01294 314508
AberdeenNot yet decided
DundeeNot yet decided
InvernessNot yet decided

North East

Local Service BaseService Available from Telephone
MiddlesbroughOpen for business 01642 398562
North ShieldsOpen for business 0191 293 0098
DarlingtonOpen for business 01325 385086
SunderlandOpen for business 0191 554 6318
GatesheadOpen for business 0191 220 4192
Leeds EastOpen for business 0113 285 0105

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