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Edward Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many incapacity benefit claimants there are in Doncaster, North; how many claimants there were in each year since 1984; and what proportion of the working age population this represented in each year. 
Mrs. McGuire: The information is not available in the format requested. A breakdown of figures by parliamentary constituency is not available prior to 1997. Working-age population estimates are not available by parliamentary constituency. Figures broken down by local authorities are available from 1995 together with working-age population estimates.
|Number of claimants|
|Number of claimants||Percentage|
|September 1999 to August 2000||397,284|
|September 2000 to August 2001||402,302|
|September 2001 to August 2002||509,831|
|September 2002 to August 2003||524,894|
|September 2003 to August 2004||467,256|
|September 2004 to August 2005||483,084|
Initial awards of benefit are normally made on the basis of medical evidence from a GP rather than a medical examination. Medical examinations take place at a later date, according to the person's condition and likely duration of incapacity, to decide whether or not they remain incapable of work and whether or not benefit can continue. Income support may continue for other reasons after a person has been found to be no longer incapable of work.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Independent Living Task Force will be established; whether it will include expertise on the provision of housing for disabled people in its membership; what its terms of reference will be; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister's strategy unit report Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People", a copy of which is in the Library, recommended a Task Force should be established by December 2005. We are now planning to establish a Task Force for independent living by spring 2006. This has enabled us to focus immediate activity on setting up
6 Dec 2005 : Column 1201W
an office for disability issues and selecting an advisory group to inform the development of a national forum for organisations of disabled people. The membership and terms of reference of the Task Force will be announced when it is established.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question regarding notification and consultation on office closures. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
All office closures are currently managed as part of the rollout of the new Jobcentre Plus service. Consultation with local stakeholders is an integral part of the planning process for rollout. Local managers are required to share their early plans for new service delivery arrangements with a wide range of local stakeholders and the communication will describe any proposals for site closures. The manager replies to comments and views received during the consultation. We try to respond positively to alternative proposals, but we do have to operate an efficient service and I am sure you will understand that we are not always in a position to meet everyone's expectations.
Jobcentre Plus managers write again to inform stakeholders of firm plans, explaining if necessary why they may have changed from those initially circulated and will also explain the reasons behind the changes. Where a site is planned for closure, the manager will write again around six weeks before the site closes to remind stakeholders of the new arrangements being put in place.
The consultation process is a mandatory one that takes place before implementation activity progresses into a detailed design phase. The consultation exercise should be seen in the context of broader ongoing communications with stakeholders as part of our routine business.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many jobcentres including Jobcentre Plus offices, have (a) opened, (b) closed and (c) been relocated in each of the past three years. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question regarding the number of offices we have opened, closed and re-located in the past three years. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The number of offices opened includes those sites we have refurbished and sites we have built from new or newly acquired. We do not have figures for the number of offices being relocated because we are closing Jobcentres and social security offices and introducing an entirely new Jobcentre Plus service supported by new processes and modern IT and telephony. Where a site is closing, our staff are likely to relocate to the new offices and contact centres. This has occurred in Daventry where the former Jobcentre has closed to be replaced by a Jobcentre Plus office in a new location.
The total number of offices opened to date to support delivery of the new service is 663. This total includes the original 56 Pathfinder offices opened in the autumn of 2001. Rollout will be substantially complete next summer. When complete, customers will have access to our service in around 1,000 locations. Around 880 of these will be Jobcentre Plus sites. The remainder will be locations where we deliver services in conjunction with partner organisations. This flexible approach to service delivery might, for example, include locating a touch-screen Jobpoint and telephone in Local Authority premises, or delivering information and advisory services through third party premises.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning what consultation with customers was undertaken prior to the implementation of the Customer Management System (CMS). This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
It may be helpful if I explain that CMS is an Information Technology system used by staff in our contact centres to gather information from customers when they make a claim to benefit. To make a claim the customer calls a contact centre where CMS is used. Contact centre staff ask the customer a series of questions to assess their potential eligibility to Jobcentre Plus benefits and then arrange to call the customer back at a mutually agreed time, to assist in completion of a claim form. This removes the need for customers to complete a lengthy claim form and instead allows the customer to provide information by telephone.
Jobcentre Plus did not consult with customers about the introduction of CMS as it is an IT system used by staff. However, we do conduct an annual customer satisfaction survey which canvasses the views of our customers across the full range of our services, including the channels we provide. The surveys give us a clear picture of how our services are perceived by customers, including how well delivered they are, and how easy or difficult they are to access. These provide baseline information on customer expectations and satisfaction and also provide the basis for tracking, over time, how customer perceptions of the service change as Jobcentre Plus implementation is rolled out, helping to drive the process of performance improvement.
The results of the 2004 survey were published on 30th September 2004. The 2005 survey commenced in September. In addition, representatives from Jobcentre Plus routinely speak to groups and have meetings with stakeholders in order to better understand customer perception.
Mr. Anthony Wright:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the total cost has been of staff re-training associated with the implementation of Jobcentre Plus's Customer Management System to date; 
6 Dec 2005 : Column 1203W
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions about the costs of implementing the Customer Management System (CMS). This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Mr. Anthony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost is of an (a) in-bound and (b) out-bound call to contact centres using Jobcentre Plus's Customer Management System; and what the cost of each was prior to the implementation of that system. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning the cost of calls to contact centres using the Customer Management System (CMS). This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
It may be helpful if I first explain that to make a claim, the customer calls a contact centre. Contact centre staff ask the customer a series of questions to assess their potential eligibility to Jobcentre Plus benefits and then arrange to call the customer back at a mutually agreed time, to assist in completion of a claim form. This removes the need for customers to complete a lengthy claim form and instead allows the customer to provide information by telephone.
With regard to the cost of the initial call to all Jobcentre Plus contact centres, a local BT rate 0845 number is available. Customers using mobile telephones or other landline networks are charged at their network provider's normal tariff for 0845 calls. Customers can also use warm phones" in local Jobcentre Plus offices to make this call free of charge.
The average length of the inbound call is 11 minutes. BT call prices for 0845 numbers vary dependant on the time the customer calls, and can range from 1p to 3p per minute. Based on this information the cost of the inbound call would be on average between 11p and 33p.
Prior to implementation of CMS, customers wishing to claim social security benefits were required to either telephone a local office, or visit an office to request a claim form. It would then be necessary for them to complete the form and return it by post or take it back to an office. If there was any need for further information, forms would be sent back to customers, who would then need to re-submit them, prior to their entitlement to benefit being established. Individual customer circumstances vary, as did standards of self-completion of forms and, therefore, the cost of this process for individual customers would vary greatly. It would particularly depend on the extent to which further information was needed following initial submission of claim forms.
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