Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Department of Social Security


  1.  The Department of Social Security deals with 70 per cent of the population at some time in their lives and handles over 879,000 customers daily. For many people it is the face of Government—it touches their lives in many ways. It is therefore vital that we ensure our public consultation on policy and the delivery of services is open to innovation and improvements to enable us to continue to meet the needs of those we serve.


  2.  The Department has been reorganised to reflect its different client groups—children, people of working age and those who have retired. This part of our determination to focus on the people the Department is here to serve.

  3.  The Department and its agencies are continually and routinely engaged in consulting the public and external stakeholders on a wide range of policy and other matters, both nationally and locally, and through formal written exercises, as well as more informally.

  4.  A list of the main formal national public consultation exercises on policy matters carried out by the DSS since May 1997 has been placed in the House of Commons Library and is available to members of the House (see Hansard vol 344 col 501W-502W 15 February 2000).

  5.  The Department is always grateful to those who take the time to let us have their views during public consultation exercises. All replies are categorised and carefully examined by the relevant policy and service delivery areas and the responses serve to inform the development of detailed policy and service.

  6.  Since May 1997 we have introduced a variety of innovative approaches to consultation and involvement of the public in the Government's modernisation of the welfare state. This Department has been at the forefront of working with the Cabinet Office on developing the idea of a consumer test to help assess our users views of our services. These new approaches have been well received and have enabled the Department and its agencies to form closer links and constructive dialogue with the public.


  7.  This list is not exhaustive.

Departmental Board Membership

  We are putting the customer at the centre of the Department's organisation most visibly by representation on the Departmental Board, both through the appointment of a Departmental Board Member as Consumer Champion and by inviting outside advisers to join the board.

Wider availability of consultation documents

  The Department has published summary versions of Green and White Papers to widen public accessibility to consultation documents. These have been available to the public free of charge. For instance, summary versions of the welfare reform Green Paper: New Ambitions for our country: A New Contract for Welfare (March 1998 Cm 3805) were made available in supermarkets, summaries of the child support Green Paper: Children first: a new approach to child support (July 1998 Cm 3992) were made available in doctors' surgeries. Approximately 200,000 free copies went to supermarkets and 70,000 to doctors' surgeries.

Use of web sites

(1)  Consultation papers available on the DSS website

  • The Government's Green Paper, New Ambitions for our country: A New Contract for Welfare, (Cm 3805) was published on 26 March 1998 with a commitment to reform the welfare state. A public consultation exercise was launched seeking views on the proposals including via the DSS web site on the internet. Since then the Department has been active in inviting responses through an internet e-mail address to consultation exercises to help develop policy, for example the Green Paper on Pensions (December 1998 Cm 4179) consultation on stakeholders pension, pensions on divorce and Children first: a new approach to child support (July 1998 Cm 3992). Copies of consultation documents are available on a free phone orderline and we are currently setting up an on-line ordering facility to enable the public to order printed versions of our documents on-line.

  • The DSS web site has a feedback section for the public to comment/complain/make enquiries. This covers all of DSS. The site will be re-launched in May 2000, organised around client groups (children and families, working age and pensioners) rather than the structure of the Department. This will aid navigation. The site receives thousands of visitors a month.

(2)  The Social Security Advisory Committee

  • The Social Security Advisory Committee is the main UK advisory body on social security matters. It is a statutory body established in 1980. The Committee gives impartial advice on social security issues as it sees fit; considers and reports on social security regulations referred to it; and considers and advises on any matters referred to it by the Secretary of State for Social Security or the Northern Ireland Department responsible for social security. It is independent of both Government and sectional interests.

  • In May 1998 the Committee set up an Internet web site. It provides full details of the Committee, its remit, activities, membership and publications, including its annual reports and details of public consultations they are undertaking. Visitors to the web site (which is linked to the main DSS and related sites) can respond via the site. Consideration is being given to extending the site including inviting "expressions of interest" on membership from suitably qualified people.

  • In March 2000 it was decided that the Social Security Advisory Committee should audit all DSS leaflets and other public information to make sure they are clear, accurate and comprehensive.

(3)  The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council

  • The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council is an independent statutory body set up in 1946 to advise the Secretary of State on matters relating to the industrial injuries scheme. The major part of the Council's time is spent considering whether the list of prescribed diseases for which benefit may be paid should be amended. The Council's Research Working Group meets quarterly to review any available new evidence on occupational diseases.

  • The Council have set up an internet web site (which is linked to the main DSS and related sites), it gives details about their work, the latest reports and press releases.

Regional Consultation


  • As part of the public consultation exercise on the proposals in the welfare reform Green Paper: New Ambitions for our country: A New Contract for Welfare, (Cm 3805) the views of the public and staff were sought through a series of regional events.

  • The aim was to widen the consultation, provide an opportunity to listen to staff and for an invited audience to attend public events across the country where the views of academics and local welfare commentators or voluntary groups could be sought. It was also intended to give wider publicity to specific themes in the Green Paper. Internally, the visits aimed to capture feedback from staff to help inform Ministers' thoughts on the development of policy arising from various reviews to modernise and reform the welfare system.


  • Events were held in Edinburgh; London; Cardiff; Newcastle; Leeds; Lancaster and Bath/Stroud. Public events were run by a local organisation and there was a wide perspective from an invited audience comprising academics, welfare lobby organisations, local councillors, representatives from other local organisations (community groups etc) and those delivering welfare services. At the staff events there was a cross section of staff from DSS Agencies, the Employment Service, Local Authorities and NHS. Staff did not "pull punches" and they were able to give good first-hand knowledge of staff attitudes and ideas.


  • About 35 people attended each public event and 25 staff came to each staff event.

Results and Lessons learnt

  • The three main objectives of the programme: generally broadening the consultation exercise; giving wider publicity to specific themes in the Green Paper; presenting Ministers' continuing dialogue of ideas with DSS staff, were all achieved. Comments from staff and public from all the events were summarised and referred to policy managers. However, the exercise involved relatively small numbers and was therefore of limited value.

  • A summary report made practical recommendations for officials organising similar events to ensure better project management in the future.

Better Government for Older People (BGOP)

(1)  Listening to Older People Events Programme


  The Inter-Ministerial Group for Older People (IMG) chaired by the DSS Minister of State organised, in partnership with non-Government organisations, a consultation programme of listening events during 1999—the International Year for Older Persons.

  • The overall aim of the programme was to provide information and feedback to be used when considering priorities and the shape of future Government policy. The specific objectives were to:

    —  engage more with individual older people and not just established groups;

    —  widen the debate between Government and older people beyond the "traditional" agenda of issues;

    —  find ways of empowering older people to speak and be heard for themselves; and

    —  test various models that could inform the development of a national structure for consultation and involvement.


  Over a dozen Ministers were involved in events across the UK, including one especially for ethnic minority elders. 11 events, including a virtual conference on the Internet, took place, in Belfast, Newcastle, Leamington, Cardiff, Harrow, Liverpool, Southampton, Truro, Aberdeen and Wolverhampton. Participants talked about issues as diverse as care and health, transport, lifelong learning and active ageing, as well as consultation and involvement. The events lasted between half a day to one day.

  Never before has Government gone out to seek the views of older people in such a direct way. The events were a forum for open and lively discussion in which all those attending had the opportunity to speak.


  Numbers were kept to 40-60 people per event. The vast majority were a representative mix of the local older population. Although the events were small, innovative and imaginative ways to involve the wider community were tested out. For example, live local radio links, phone-ins, video links with a residential care home, etc.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  Independent researchers prepared a report on each event. The reports covered the issues raised and reflected on the success of events themselves. The reports were provided to Ministers and the older people who took part. A summary analysis will be published in due course. The findings are informing the work of the IMG in preparation for a larger national "listening" event to be held in May. At this event the Government will respond to the issues raised by older people with a programme of action.

  The Department is also actively supporting the DTI-led "Foresight" programme through involvement in the Ageing Population Panel.

(2)  BA Better Government for Older People Project


  The BA are using the BGOP programme to develop an understanding of how to improve front-line services for pensioners and to assess whether or not it is practical to combine services from the BA with other local service providers.


  Eight BA prototypes have been established in Bolton, Devon, Harrow, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, Newcastle, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Stirling and Wolverhampton. The prototypes were set up in spring 1999 and were expected to run for one year. The prototypes are community based and designed locally in consultation with the local authorities, other organisations and local pensioners. In Rhondda Cynon Taff, 5,000 questionnaires were issued to local pensioners, via Post Offices, supermarkets, Day Centres, libraries etc.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  The information received was analysed and used to design services which will be delivered by the prototype. These services included integrated information surgeries; third parties using a locally produced proforma to test eligibility for the Minimum Income Guarantee; targeting the housebound and using a bus to provide customers in rural areas with access to information. Social and operational research and evaluation is still underway, the results are expected in summer 2000.

(3)  The Pensions Forecasting Project


  The Project is actively developing a strategy for improving the information available to the working population. The emphasis is on informing people by providing complete, understandable, easily accessible and meaningful information that will help them understand how they can ensure they have a decent income in retirement.


  One of the initiatives is to replace the current state pension forecast letter with an improved version that is simpler, clearer and easier to understand and to support it with a leaflet.

  In 1998 revised forecast letters and leaflets were tested with a small representative customer group. To evaluate the effectiveness of these products qualitative research was carried out by means of 22 individual depth interviews across the country.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  The feedback from the research showed that given the complexity of the subject, both letter and leaflet performed reasonably well, even though there was some scope for improvement. The recommendations of the focus group report have been incorporated into the letters and leaflet where appropriate. The report concluded that the work on forecasting had an important role in today's world of financial independence and that the person receiving a forecast would be a better informed individual and better able to progress their post-retirement planning.

National debate on the future of the welfare state


  In July 1999 the Secretary of State launched a national debate on the future of the welfare state in response to recommendations made by the Labour Party's National Policy Forum. The objective is to examine the long term future of welfare in the light of expected social trends.


  The Department has also started to issue a number of occasional papers, of which two have been so far published on trends in social security expenditure and pensioner incomes, to inform the debate.

  DSS Ministers have addressed a broad range of audiences, including trade unions, religious organisations and groups representing specific interests such as pensions.

Research and evaluation of policy


  We regularly seek the views of customers on new policy ideas (see for example Attitudes to the Welfare State and response to reform, by Teresa Williams, Maxine Hill and Rachael Davies (DSS Research Report No 88 Corporate Document Services ISBN 1 84123 098 7), a copy is available from the House of Commons Library) as part of the evaluation of policy and to obtain customer views on service delivery issues.


  We use focus groups but only as part of qualitative research. This includes depth interviews as well as mini-groups. It is essentially small-scale, explorative work. Technically it is "hypothesis-generating" rather than "hypothesis-testing". The crucial aspect is that it is not representative but gives a range of views. Qualitative research has a number of features, such as providing understanding of issues in depth, learning about processes etc.

  We use qualitative research to explore and identify issues we can later test in surveys. It also has an important function in large-scale evaluations.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  Surveys can measure the impact whilst qualitative work shows how things work. The lessons are numerous but one example is the identification of the pivotal role of personal advisers identified by qualitative work in the New Deal for Lone Parents evaluation and this has been instrumental in other New Deals.

Research of publicity material


  To test attitudes and reactions to publicity campaign material.


  We have undertaken qualitative research among our target audience on most of our publicity campaign material. Eg on Winter Fuel Payments publicity; New Deal for Lone Parents publicity; on benefit fraud; and on education about pensions. The research has involved a number of techniques to assess attitudes and reactions towards proposed campaign material. For example we have used focus groups and group discussions as well as in-depth one-to-one interviews and projective techniques. Research is carried out using up-to-date technology. Eg multi-media CAPI (computer assisted personal interviewing).

  We have also consulted with voluntary organisations and the Local Government Association on Winter Fuel Payments publicity and on other pensioner publicity. On new benefit fraud publicity, we have recently consulted with National Association of Citizen's Advice Bureau, financial advisers and debt counsellors to get views on how a proposed campaign could affect those who are poor.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  The results of this research have been used by the Department to further develop publicity campaign material. The consultative exercise informed the work that went into research with the wider public.

Pre-legislative scrutiny by the Social Security Select Committee

  In 1998, the Social Security Select Committee carried out for the first time an innovative pre-legislative scrutiny of draft legislation on pensions on divorce. The aim was to improve the scrutiny of legislation before a Bill was formally brought before Parliament. As part of this process the Committee took evidence from a number of individuals and organisations interested in these issues.

Decision Making and Appeals


  The Department is seeking to improve the quality of decisions and to make the systems for redress more responsive and quicker.


  The Department has made fundamental changes to the social security decision-making and appeals system to make it more sensitive to customer needs and to streamline and modernise administrative processes.

  In designing and implementing the new system we took full account of the interests of all stakeholders and in particular our clients and their representatives. We set up a consultative group of welfare rights advisers to input to the policy design and involved them in considering drafts of the regulations.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  The relationship proved very fruitful from both sides and we are continuing to hold group meetings to advise us on evaluation of the new system. We now have a collaborative partnership relationship with shared goals and outcomes.

The Disability Benefits Forum

  The Disability Benefits Forum was set up in 1998. The Forum was not a formal statutory consultative body and was not linked to consideration of any specific policy proposals. Its terms of reference were: "To consider the possible options for change in the gateways to benefits for long-term sickness, for disabled people and carers and how to ensure that help is directed to those who need it".

  The Forum was wound up in May 1999. However, working groups of officials and representatives of disability organisations, previously set up under its aegis, continue to meet to consider improvements in the administration and possible structure of benefits.

Stakeholder pensions

  The consultation on stakeholders pensions has been in several parts as follows:

    The Green Paper "A new contract for welfare: Partnership in Pensions" was issued in December 1998. (Stakeholder formed a part of the paper). This invited comments by 31 March 1999.

    During the summer of 1999 the Department issued five consultation documents. (Inland Revenue issued a sixth document on the tax regime). These went to around 600 destinations—including all those who responded to the Green Paper and anyone else who asked for a copy. The documents were also available on the DSS web site.

    Having received comments, draft regulations have been written and these too have been sent to the 600—and have been made available on the DSS web site.

  In addition to the above paper consultation, there have been two working groups set up as follows.

The Core Group

  The role of the core group is to complement the written consultation process. It should draw out the key issues and review the comments received on the consultation papers.

  The group comprises 20+ people from representative groups such as ABI, CBI, NAPF, TUC, FSB etc.

The Advisory Group

  The group's terms of reference are:

    —  To complement the formal consultation process for stakeholder pensions by advising on the practicalities of introducing stakeholder pensions, and in particular:

      —  consider how best to reconcile diverging views about stakeholder pensions, drawing on group members' own range of experience;

      —  act as a sounding board during the development of the detail for stakeholder pensions;

      —  interpret and clarify issues raised about the development of stakeholder pensions and the wider impact on pension provision and on employers;

      —  examine how best to keep costs to a minimum.

  The group is chaired independently. The seven members of the group are representatives of the industry plus a large employer and a small employer.

Member-nominated Trustees and Directors


  To seek help with examining the differing views about implementing proposals on the Government's proposals for trust-based occupational pension schemes to have at least one-third member-nominated trustees.


  A working group involving representatives from various pensions industry was charged with looking at the Government's proposals for changes to member-nominated trustee and director provisions. They were asked to pay particular attention to: the Government's wish to maximise the coverage of member-nominated trustees; the interests of all scheme members, including pensioners and the burdens on schemes. The Working Group comprised DSS officials and nominees from the following organisations: National Association of Pension Funds, the Association of Pension Lawyers, the Society of Pension Consultants, the Association of Consulting Actuaries, the Association of British Insurers, the TUC and Opra.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  The Working Group developed and revised proposals during their discussions over a period of time, these were published in a consultation paper which was generally well received. As a result the revised proposals were to have at least one-third member-nominated trustees, but the way a member-nominated trustee is defined will give greater scope for schemes to adopt arrangements which suit their particular circumstances. This was an excellent example of Government and the pensions industry working together.


The Benefits Agency Customer Liaison Team


  The BA Customer Liaison team is active in forming links with national customer organisations and for co-ordinating their national meetings with BA. Particular emphasis is placed on organisations representing customers from vulnerable groups, such as those with disabilities, those from abroad and who are homeless.


  Formal communication channels are:

Chief Executive's Meetings with National Organisations

  The Chief Executive (CE) meets the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, Child Poverty Action Group and Local Government Association on a regular basis to discuss benefit delivery related issues. The organisations table agenda items where they are seeking information or wish to raise concerns; BA table issues upon which they wish to consult or provide information.

National Customer Forums

  Each year BA holds a series of customer forums attended by delegates from national and regional organisations. The objectives are to hear and respond to concerns expressed by the organisations and to pro-actively consult and provide information on new benefit delivery projects and initiatives.

  The main event is the BA Annual Forum. This is a general forum attended by the CE and BA Directors and is open to all customer representative organisations. The Secretary of State has addressed the last two events. BA decides the overall theme of the event and there are workshops on specific issues as well as a delegate-led plenary session.

  Four other forums, chaired by BA Directors, are aimed at specific customer groups including ethnic minority customers, homeless customers and people with disabilities.

  "Ad hoc" Forums and meetings are organised to deal with "one off" issues as and when appropriate. Recent examples include consultation on the Customer Charter and provision of better customer notifications (Access Strategy).

  Quarterly meetings with representative organisations are also organised on behalf of the BA Standards Committee on decision making and appeals.


  Touchbase is a quarterly magazine for customer advisers and intermediaries, which is used to provide information on benefit changes, new benefit developments and other topical issues. Touchbase is issued to around 90,000 members of the BA Publicity Register.


  On-going, day-to-day liaison with customer representative organisations is conducted by the Customer Liaison team, who co-ordinate responses to a wide variety of queries and problems. The team is also responsible for guidance to BA field staff on how local liaison should be conducted.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  There have been many examples where feedback has been taken into account either in planning or revising procedures, for example:

    —  In the production of our revised leaflet programme;

    —  The production of the Customer Charter;

    —  Revised instructions to staff dealing with people from abroad;

    —  Operation of the new decision-making and appeals processes;

    —  Provision of information to representatives.

  By working with and consulting those who represent our customers we are able to understand more clearly the issues they face and provide a more customer focused service. We are able to work with representative organisations, for example the Refugee and Asylum Seekers Forum.

  The BA have increasingly involved outside organisations in the planning processes over the last few years. Whilst we cannot always do what they want, where we can, increasingly, we do.

Benefits Agency Project Access


  Project Access was set up to review the range of pre-claim benefit information, and to make improvements.


   The review involved:

    —  A consultation paper aimed at customer advisers to canvas opinion on the suggested improvements and why they were being done—which was sent out to the BA publicity register for comments;

    —  Workshops with customer adviser representatives to talk about potential changes to leaflets;

    —  Quantitative and qualitative research with users;

    —  Placing regular information in "Touchbase", the BA quarterly newsletter for customer advisers.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  As a result a new range of leaflets was produced. The contents of the leaflets are new clearer and easier to follow, provide better information and there is a reduction in the number of leaflets to avoid confusion.

  We are presently undertaking the BA Better Letters Project, which seeks to improve the 107 million annual postal claim letters and notifications we send out each year. This project has also consulted customer advisers representatives via workshops to discuss improvements to existing letters and new formats for customer notifications.

Customer Service Action Plan


  A drive to improve customer service following the findings from the BA customer survey, introduced in June 1998.


  The Customer Service Team have produced a Customer Service Action Plan with a view to improving customer service standards. Remedial actions to tackle shortcomings appear as action points in the plan. A member of staff from each of the Area and Benefit directorates and key central service branches has been selected to form a Customer Service Network Group. The group meet regularly to present their views and ideas on customer service issues. The views of customers are sought via meetings with customer groups and outside organisations.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  Customer feedback by way of complaints is analysed. It is planned to share the good practices identified throughout the organisation by issuing regular updates.

  In Central Staffs District an Independent Review Panel has been set up to look at how complaints by customers have been handled by the BA. The panel sits on a monthly basis and consists of four independent people from outside drawn from social workers, information officers from social services and representatives from Age Concern. In Lincoln two local councillors have assisted in discussing the review of customer services at Sleaford. In Wolverhampton a member of staff from the BA is helping to provide advice to the bereaved in a specialised centre set up by the local authority and manned by representatives from different agencies. Consultation will take place with all relevant customer representatives to measure its effectiveness.

Overseas Innovations

  Two members of the Overseas Division made contact with the Jamaican Residents Association when visiting Jamaica on behalf of the Department to set up and maintain communication channels between the Overseas Directorate and pensioners living in Jamaica.

  The Overseas Divisional Manager made contact with the New Zealand British Pensioners Association when he visited New Zealand and he acts as a regular contact with the Association via fax and e-mail.


Ex-Service Welfare Liaison Group


  To provide ex-servicemen and women with a seamless welfare service between the War Pensioners' Welfare Service and the ex-service charities.

  To discuss the provision of welfare via IT, support for caseworkers, training and publicity.


  Formal biannual meeting of senior officials of the War Pensions Agency and all major ex-service charities.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  Every suggestion is considered and acted on by the group as a whole. Achievements include joint training for caseworkers of the Department and ex-service charities. The group is working towards providing a central website which will give access to all the service welfare organisations' individual sites.

War Pensions Committee Consultative Group


  To discuss ways to improve the service provided to war pensioners and war widows by the War Pensioners' Welfare Service and the War Pensions Agency.


  Formal meeting held three times a year to discuss delivery of welfare, policy and administrative matters.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  Each issue is discussed and the Agency uses the comments of the group to decide the best way forward to influence any changes in administrative procedures. There is then an appreciation of the issues affecting both the Agency and the War Pensioners/Widows. In particular the Group have commented on decision-making and appeals initiatives; redesigns of the WPA leaflets, all obtaining the Crystal Mark; introduction of public appointments processes into appointment of members to the War Pensions Committee and contributions to the agency's target-setting process.


Customer Representative Groups


  The CSA external relations team actively promote links with customer representative groups on all areas of work.


  The team:

    —  Organises quarterly customer representative group forums with the Chief Executive;

    —  Inform the group about developments within the Agency;

    —  Provide contact points for advice and information.

    —  Formal communications take place at quarterly Customer Representative Group Forums. The forum membership consists of various organisations both local and national. They represent the interests of parents with care, non-resident parents, children and employers. Examples of membership include:

      —  National Council for One Parent Families;

      —  Child Poverty Action Group;

      —  Families Need Fathers;

      —  Childline;

      —  Local Government Authorities;

      —  SCOOPAID;

      —  Family Law Consortium;

    —  The CSA Standards Committee is also represented at the meetings.

  Results and Lessons learnt

  Liaison with customer representatives has also led to development of:

    —  CSA internet website designed with the information customers want;

    —  Facilities for communicating via e-mail;

    —  A revised Customer Charter;

    —  Operation of Decision Making and Appeals;

  An Information Pack for customer representatives. Copies were issued to organisations that contributed to the pack and it is available on request free of charge. The pack contains sections on the work of the Agency, the services provided and the assessment process. It also includes direct telephone numbers of local liaison teams within each business unit. There is also a section to signpost customers to other organisations, which may be able to help customers in other areas of personal, financial or family matters.

  By liaison with these groups the Agency is able to focus on the more immediate issues and to strengthen customer service. In particular, employer representatives groups are becoming increasingly involved and more are being recruited to ensure that maintenance, once assessed, is actually paid for the benefit of the child.

Open Door

  "Open Door" is a quarterly magazine for customer representatives groups and other external interested bodies such as employers and social lecturers. It provides information on the performance of the Agency, new legislation or methods of working, other related issues and insights into the workplace with interviews with members of staff. Its aim is to ensure that as much information as possible is provided in the area of eliminating child poverty and articles have included information about Working Families Tax Credit, the Child Support Reforms and the work of the Independent Case Examiner.

Customer Consultation Panels

  Each of the Agency's six business units have set up customer consultation panels. These groups are made up of stakeholders (for example Citizens Advice Bureau, MP caseworkers, solicitors, social workers and CSA customers—both parents with care and non-resident parents). These groups meet on a quarterly or six monthly basis. The panel aims to:

    —  Identify gaps in the service provided;

    —  Recognise what is done well and areas for improvement;

    —  Encourage discussion and participation in future developments.

National Baseline Customer Survey

  A research team are conducting a national baseline survey of current CSA clients. This is the first stage in a wider research programme which will evaluate the reformed Child Support system to ensure it is "accessible, comprehensible and responsive to the parents involved". Further surveys will measure the effect of the reforms against this baseline.

Face to Face

  All six business units can now meet customers for interview. Officers are also proactive in going out into the community to liaise with employers, stakeholder groups and schools to provide awareness about the Agency and to deal with any issues they may raise.

Insight Days

  One business unit has held two "Insight Days" over the last year when stakeholders get a tour of the Child Support Agency Centre and talk to staff about their areas of work. Time at the end of each day is given over to general discussion and questions. Feedback has been positive and more insight days are planned.

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