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Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many telephone calls to the Child Support Agency were abandoned by (a) agency staff and (b) clients in each month since May 2005. 
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many telephone calls to the Child Support Agency have been abandoned by (a) Agency staff and (b) clients in each month since May 2005. 
Information on the Agency's telephony performance is routinely published in Table 16 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics, the latest copy of which can be found in the House of Commons library or at the following link:
The attached table shows the diminishing number of telephone calls abandoned by clients in each month since May 2005. The first column of the table shows calls abandoned by the client during the automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) process (for example, where the client does not have a National Insurance number to hand and hangs up to obtain it before calling back). In the year to March 2008 eight percent of calls were abandoned by the client at this stage.
The second column of the table includes all abandoned calls from clients with cases managed on the old system (CSCS) which are not routed through the automated Interactive Voice Response process. It also includes calls relating to cases managed on the new system (CS2) abandoned by the client following the Interactive Voice Response process when their call is in a queue waiting to be answered by the Agency. In the year to March 2008, just one percent of clients abandoned the call at this stage. Once in a queue on either the old or new system, it is not possible for the Agency to abandon a call from a client, neither can the Agency abandon a call during the automated Interactive Voice Response process.
The Agency has shown a significant and sustained improvement in telephony performance since the introduction of the Operational Improvement Plan. In the year ending March 2008 the Agency received a total of 5,369,000 calls from clients. Agency people answered 98% of telephone calls available to be answered, with an average waiting time of just 20 seconds.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
|Telephone calls to Child Support Agency abandoned by clients May 2005 to March 2008|
|Month||Calls abandoned/lost during the IVR process||Calls abandoned in the queue (overall Agency)|
|1. The first column includes new system (CS2) telephone calls abandoned during the Agency's Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system as the telephony system gathers information to route the call through to the relevant team.|
2. There is no IVR process for old scheme telephone calls. Calls are classified as abandoned if the client terminates the call before the Agency member of staff is able to respond.
3. The second column shows telephony outcomes for calls relating to cases on both the new system (CS2) and old system (CSCS).
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements are in place to ensure that claimants awarded a compensatory payment for errors made by his Department are (a) notified to and (b) agreed with the claimant before payment is made; and what consideration is made of the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 during this process. 
Mrs. McGuire: The DWP is committed to meeting the needs of disabled people. We aim to go further than the legal requirements, and intend the Department to set a leading example to other organisations.
The Department is focused on providing high standards of customer service, and seeks to provide rapid and satisfactory resolution of any customer complaints. In the event that agency error or delay may have an adverse effect on a customer, the Department operates a discretionary scheme providing financial redress. Under these arrangements a special payment can be made to compensate for the impact of any error on the customer.
Notification of a special payment is sent to customers, and they are given the opportunity to discuss this if they are dissatisfied with the award. When it is known that a customer has a specific communication barrier, we will ensure that our written information is accessible by producing our correspondence in a different format as appropriate. When the use of written communication may not be suitable or available for a customer, customers will be offered an appropriate alternative.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's procedure is for publishing announcements on (a) the publication of departmental research reports and (b) departmental policy. 
The majority of our reports will also be announced by way of a factual analytical press notice. Analytical press notices are routinely issued with most research reports produced by the Department to announce their publication including highlighting the key findings of the report. When the report is considered to be of significant public interest, a ministerial press notice may also be issued.
DWP does not have a discrete procedure for announcing departmental policy. Ministers follow the principles contained in section 9 of the ministerial code that major policy announcements should be given to Parliament before being announced in the media.
Operational press notices are issued, where appropriate, in relation to operational and delivery issues, for example to invite media to attend events organised by the Department such as the opening of a new Jobcentre Plus office.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what date and at what time his Departments press releases on DWP research report (a) 472, (b) 481, (c) 486 and (d) 467 were first released; to whom each release was circulated; and when each release was uploaded on to the departmental website. 
Mrs. McGuire: The analytical press releases for each of the four research reports were released on Wednesday 7 May 2008 at 1.30 pm. In line with standard practice for analytical releases, all four were published on the DWP internet site.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the reasons are for the time taken to publish the (a) family resources survey, (b) households below average income and (c) pensioners income series; and when he expects each to be published. 
James Purnell: The Fabian Society invited the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to speak at its spring lecture event on the Departments role in fulfilling the Governments child poverty reduction commitments. The speech covered both political and departmental issues.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the annual savings resulting from the reduction in backdating facilities for housing benefit and council tax benefit; and how such savings will be allocated. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The changes to backdating for housing benefit and council tax benefit are part of a package of measures, rather than an individual change. Taken together, these changes will simplify and improve the claims process for pensioners by allowing claims for up to four benefits to be dealt with in a single telephone call, extending the period pension credit recipients can spend abroad without losing benefit and introducing indefinite assessed income periods for pension credit recipients aged 80 or over. Savings from the backdating changes will go towards the additional take-up that will result from the other changes in the package.
|Estimated savings from proposed changes to housing benefit and council tax benefit backdating|
|£ million, 2007-08 prices|
1. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest £5 million
2. Figures relate to financial years.
3. Estimated savings are consistent with the 2008 Budget settlement but they are based on a set of assumptions and are subject to change as new data become available.
4. Estimates are based on a single data extract. The backdating variable within the extract was introduced relatively recently, which means that we have no way of corroborating the robustness of the data.
5. Estimated savings from the housing benefit/council tax benefit backdating measure have been projected forward from 2011 in line with the growth in the long-run forecast of expenditure on housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Single HB extract from local authority computer systems
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