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Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 22 November 2005, Official Report, columns 186768W, on the Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity, what the budget allocation has been for the programme; and if he will place in the Library copies of publications arising from the programme. 
The Decision to establish the programme, includingits eventual budget allocation, is subject to parliamentary scrutiny. The European Commission will publish annual activity reports, plus mid-term and ex-post evaluations of programme spending, outcomes and added value. Where appropriate these will be deposited for further consideration by the scrutiny Committees. Deposited documents and their associated explanatory memoranda provided by the Government are made available to the House Library.
John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 30 November 2005, Official Report, column 613W on the habitual residence test, whether someone who has paid sufficient national insurance contributions to qualify for contributory benefits is subject to the habitual residence test for non-contributory benefits. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the performance of the Customer Management System (CMS) for Jobcentre Plus benefit claims. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Since 2003 Jobcentre Plus has been introducing a new process for taking claims for benefit, supported by CMS. Information to support claims for benefit is gathered from customers through Contact Centres and recorded in CMS, before being transferred, electronically for Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance, to benefit processing IT systems.
When the system was first introduced, we experienced some difficulties with system performance and reliability. Following a series of performance releases" designed to tackle these problems, the computer system now performs to agreed service levels. Since February 2005, there has only been one occasion where a CMS failure has affected all offices and made it necessary to invoke business continuity procedures.
We have, however, experienced some difficulties in call handling in some of our Contact Centres. Some of our customers have found it difficult to get through on the telephone, and we have had to introduce clerical contingency procedures in a number of sites in order to maintain customer service. This has not been caused by any failure on the part of the computer system itself, but relates to the administrative processes that have been introduced alongside the new computer system.
Since introducing a number of temporary adjustments to these processes and taking urgent measures to recruit and train staff, there have been encouraging signs of recovery in our call handling. We are keeping the position under review on a site-by-site basis and each site has a plan for returning to the full process, supported by CMS, as quickly as possible.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of Jobcentre Plus CMS2 enabled contact centres have been unable to process cases on CMS2 in each of the last 24 months; what the average time taken to start payments (a) from CMS2 contact centres and (b) nationally was in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning how many CMS2 contact centres have been unable to process cases on CMS2 in each of the last 24 months and the average time taken to start payments from CMS2 contact centres and nationally. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
1. in the event of a full CMS failure, contingency processes to issue clerical claim forms would be invoked. Information on this has only been recorded from February 2005. There has only been one single day instance between February 2005 and October 2005 where this affected all contact centres; and
2. when a business decision is taken to ensure that customer service is maintained; for example, a decision to introduce temporary process adjustments. Across all 22 CMS contact centres this happened in:
Turning to the second part of your question about the average time to start payments from CMS2 contact centres and nationally, Jobcentre Plus keeps statistics about the number of claims cleared and how long it takes. The statistics only show where the claim was processed, not where it originated so it is not possible to differentiate between claims that have been initiated through CMS2 enabled contact centres and existing service outlets. This means we cannot provide the specific information you have requested.
I can say, however, that in September, Income Support claims were cleared in an average of 10.8 days against a standard of 12days, Incapacity Benefit claims were cleared in an average of 15.2 days against a standard of 17 days and Jobseeker's Allowance claims were cleared in an average of 13.5 days against a standard of 12 days.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many calls to Jobcentre Plus contact centres (a) were answered, (b) received an engaged tone and (c) were disconnected in each month from January; and if he will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning how many calls to Jobcentre Plus contact centres (a)were answered, (b) received an engaged tone and (c) were disconnected in each month from January; and if he will make a statement. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
|2005||Calls answered||Number of weeks in month|
When a customer calls they are placed into a queue either until the call is answered or they choose to abandon the call. Customers do not get an engaged tone. The information on disconnected calls is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
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