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Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions who in the Department has been made responsible for achieving the efficiency objectives set for the Department by the Gershon review. 
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average length of time taken by his Department to process requests for appeals of claims for income support awards was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question regarding the average length of time taken by his Department to process requests for appeals of claims for income support awards in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
|Number of weeks|
|Lodged to received||11|
|Received by Appeals Service to outcome||14|
|Lodged to outcome||25|
The 14 week figure quoted takes into account the duration from receipt of the appeal until its conclusion and includes those appeals that are adjourned at first hearing upon judicial direction. This, therefore, increases the overall duration and is an issue outside of my remit of responsibility for the Administration of this Service.
I can also let you know that the Secretary of State set a target for 200405 that the average waiting time for an appeal to be heard from receipt in the Appeals Service should be no more than 11 weeks and we met this target during 200405 for all appeals. specifically for income support appeals, we achieved a 10.3 weeks average waiting time. During this period, the average clearance time for an appeal from receipt in the Appeals Service, including those cases cleared before a tribunal hearing, was 8.89 weeks.
We are constantly looking at ways in which to improve the level of service that we offer our customers. We are working with the first tier agencies to agree national service agreements in order to establish, amongst other things, a reduced end-to-end clearance target. We are also currently looking at how to improve our customers' overall experience of our Service, including reducing the time they must wait for their appeal to be heard, and we will be capturing customer feedback on this.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions regarding Jobcentre Plus staff. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
At the inception of Jobcentre Plus on 1 April 2002 there were 85,880 full time equivalent staff, which included 34,040 staff employed by the Employment Service which was responsible for the delivery of services through Jobcentres. Jobcentre Plus employed 72,831 full time equivalent staff as at 30 September 2005.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many assaults there were on the staff of Jobcentre Plus in each of the last three years; and how many of these assaults resulted in successful prosecution. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning the number of assaults on Jobcentre Plus staff in each of the last three years and how many of these assaults resulted in prosecution. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
In answer to your specific questions we have limited our response to actual physical assaults, although we also data collect on other categories of unacceptable behaviour. The available data on actual physical assaults for the last three years in Jobcentre Plus is provided below. Data is not held on how many of these assaults resulted in successful prosecution, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
It may be helpful if I explain the background to these figures. Although data indicates there has been a rise in the number of incidents reported in the last 3 years it is not possible to identify any causal relationships. Not only are there significant variables such as staffing levels, types and numbers of offices and methods of service delivery over this period which render year on year comparisons, this period also coincides with a number of initiatives within the Department encouraging staff to report all incidents so that lessons can be learned and appropriate remedial action taken.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) which independent consultants were engaged for the Jobcentre Plus Programme procurement review; what reports were commissioned as part of the review; and whether he plans to publish the reports that were commissioned as part of the review; 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions concerning the Jobcentre Plus programme procurement review. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as chief executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The research into Jobcentre Plus programme procurement policy and procedures was commissioned from independent consultants PKF and Rocksharp. Their work was completed in the spring of 2003. The findings were presented to senior managers and formed the basis of the recommendations and actions of the programme procurement review. The review was supported by the Jobcentre Plus board and a steering group which included the DWP Director of Procurement. The findings and recommendations from the reviews were not required or presented in the format of final reports' intended for publication.
The ongoing work in delivering outstanding recommendations of the review and in developing further changes in support of the efficiency agenda is continuing as part of the wider DWP procurement modernisation programme.
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