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You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many telephone calls to the Child Support Agency (a) were received (b) received an engaged tone and (c) were disconnected during the interactive response process for the period April 2002 to June 2006 for (i) all calls and (ii) calls relating to the cases being processed on the CS2 computer system.
The latest information is contained in the two following tables. Note that the CS2 computer system did not become operational until March 2003. Therefore it is not possible to provide data for the year 2002-03.
Note also that point (c) has been interpreted as referring to the total number of calls abandoned (for example, where the client does not have a National Insurance number to hand and hangs up to go and find it before calling back) or lost during the automated part of the process, as the Agency cannot disconnect a call once it is in the IVR system.
Further information on the Agency's telephony performance is available in Table 16 of the latest edition of the Agency's Quarterly Summary of Statistics. A copy of this document is available in the House Library, as well as on the internet, at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/csa.asp.
The Agency has shown a significant and sustained improvement in telephony performance, with respect to waiting times and the percentage of calls answered. Specifically:
In the quarter ending June 2006, the Agency answered 97% of telephone calls available to be answered, compared to 91% in the year ending March 2006.
In the quarter ending June 2006, average waiting time for all calls was 24 seconds, down from 59 seconds in the year ending March 2006.
I hope you find this helpful.
|Telephony outcomes for calls relating to cases on both CS2 and CSCS, 2002-03 to 2005-06|
|April 2002 to March 2003||April 2003 to March 2004||April 2004 to March 2005||April 2005 to March 2006||April 2006 to June 2006|
|(1) It is not possible to break down ineffective calls into those that did or did not receive an engaged tone for old system calls in 2002-03. Notes: 1. Data are presented for calls made regarding cases on the new system (CS2) and the old system (CSCS) combined. 2. "Attempted customer calls" excludes calls attempted outside working hours. 3. "Calls for which outcome not recorded" are those that were received but for which, due to data problems, the eventual outcome was not recorded. The volume of such calls has decreased significantly in the last three years as management information systems have improved. 4. "Calls for which outcome recorded" are those which were received and for which there is management information to track the eventual outcome. 5. IVR denotes the automated touch tone part of the process where customers enter their details via the telephone key pad. Once callers have cleared this part of the process, they enter a queue to be answered by a member of CSA staff. Note that there is no IVR process on the old system. 6. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding.|
Mr. Plaskitt: Enabling and helping parents to make their own child support arrangements will help to create a simpler, more focused child support system. We are currently developing plans for introducing a new system of child support. As part of this we are considering the most cost effective way of moving to, and administering, the new system.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account he takes of the number of homes in Scotland which are heated by coal fires when determining cold weather payments. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Eligible customers for cold weather payments are those people awarded pension credit and those awarded income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance who have a pensioner or disability premium, or have a child who is disabled or under the age of five when the temperature criteria are met for their postcode.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what average hourly rate his Department paid to employment agencies for agency staff in each year since 1999, broken down by agency. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Departments policy is first to source any requirements for temporary administrative staff from the local Jobcentre Plus office. If this is unsuccessful we acquire agency staff through a framework agreement led by the Prison Service. Under these arrangements the average hourly rate by agency in 2005-06 was:
|(1) Mainly London based staff|
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what contracts were awarded by his Department to Bird and Bird Solicitors in each year since 1997; what the (a) value and (b) duration of each such contract was; and if he will make a statement. 
|Department for Work and Pensions: Contracts with Bird and Bird Solicitors|
|Description||Start date||End date||Value (£)|
DWP was created in 2001 and earlier figures relate to the ex-DSS.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what tax efficient schemes for the purchase of bicycles his Department makes available to its employees; how many and what percentage of his Department's staff purchased bicycles through such schemes in 2005-06; whether the schemes are available through a range of suppliers; and whether arrangements are made to enable staff with disabilities to purchase adapted bicycles from a specialist supplier. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offers employees an interest-free advance if they wish to purchase a bicycle. Cycle racks are provided at sites where we have parking. We also offer lockers and showers where possible and where the building allows.
The Department has no current plans to implement the cycle to work tax incentive scheme. As the Department cannot reclaim VAT, the tax savings are more limited than they would be for other employers, and the scheme is therefore not as attractive to our employees. Based on the low take-up of our existing scheme, we do not believe that the tax incentive scheme would be widely used. We will, however, keep the position under review.
Mrs. McGuire: The Department of Work and Pensions has a contract with BT to provide its telephony services. Hold music is provided as part of the standard package provided on all BT switch boards and as such does not incur a discrete identifiable charge to DWP.
Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households in Gateshead and Sunderland include a person with a learning disability who receives the care component of disability living allowance at the (a) highest rate, (b) middle rate and (c) lowest rate. 
Mrs. McGuire: The administration of disability living allowance is a matter for the chief executive of the Disability and Carers Service, Mr. Terry Moran. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many households in Gateshead and Sunderland include a person with a learning disability who receives the care component of disability living allowance at the (a) highest rate, (b) middle rate and (c) lowest rate.
The Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire MP, promised you a substantive reply from the Chief Executive of the Disability and Carers Service. In his absence, I am replying.
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