|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average (a) length and (b) cost (i) in total and (ii) per minute to callers of calls to each helpline operated by his Department and its agencies in each of the last five years. 
|DWP helpline||Average call length||Total cost (in pence)||Cost per minute (in pence)|
|(1) No cost.|
(2) Various STD numbers.
1. Figures are taken from 2008-09. Some figures are based on quarterly performance and others on yearly performance.
2, Figures for the past five years not available as they were not recorded in the format requested.
3. To provide an illustration of the cost of calls the table uses BTs standard landline tariff of 3.864p per minute, with an 8p set up charge. Both amounts are inclusive of VAT.
4. The telecommunications market is very complex, with many different providers, all with their own tariffs and call plans. Recent research by the Department shows that over 80 per cent. of our customers contact the Department using landlines. As BT account for two-thirds of landline provision the table uses BTs landline tariff to calculate average costs. Only 9 per cent. of BT landline customers do not have a package that may now include free calls to 0845 numbers.
5. Figures for average call length include speed of answer and time spent with an agent.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average cost to a caller of a mobile telephone call to a helpline operated by his Department; and if he will make representations to mobile telephone network providers to seek to lower these costs. 
Jonathan Shaw: The average cost of a call from a mobile telephone to numbers used by the Department varies widely. It depends on the contract between mobile operators and a caller, the number used0800 for initial claims and 0845 for changes in circumstances, and the length of the call.
Following consultation with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the Office of Communications (OFCOM), the Department is making representations to mobile telephone operators to reduce and where possible eradicate these costs for its customers. As a first step, it is approaching operators to provide a free phone service for 0800 numbers. BT has already announced that calls to 0800 numbers will be free from 1 May. The Department hopes other operators will follow this lead.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to
reduce the cost to callers of a telephone call to its helplines; and if he will provide freephones in Jobcentres for clients to call such helplines. 
Calls to claim benefit should be free, so we should use 0800 numbers.
Calls for other reasons, which take less time to resolve, should be charged at a standard rate, so we should use 0845 numbers.
We currently offer to call back customers who request a call back, so that we can absorb the cost of the call.
We are constantly evaluating whether our numbering approach and technology best serves our customers. The telecommunications market is ever changing and increasingly complex and we are keen that our numbering policy is sustainable and continues to meet the needs of our customers. To ensure we maintain a consistently up-to-date view of the situation we are working with Ofcom, our telephony suppliers and with other telephony service providers.
While we encourage customers to access self-service and telephone channels from their own home, for Jobcentre Plus customers, free to use Customer Access Phones with direct dial to our Helplines are available for those who do not have access to a telephone at home. People assessed to be in a vulnerable position due to their personal circumstances, for example customers who are homeless, can also make use of the Customer Access Phones.
In addition, Jobcentre Plus offices have touch screen Jobpoint terminals installed for customers to use to access the same full range of vacancies available through the Jobseeker Direct helpline.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies received on the cost of telephone calls to their helplines in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much of the deprived areas funds (a) allocated by his Department in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08 and (b) carried forward to 2008-09 have been spent, broken down by district; and if he will make a statement. 
In 2007-08, £27 million Deprived Areas Fund was allocated to Jobcentre Plus Districts, of which they spent £16.5 million. For 2008-09, £1 million was allocated to Jobcentre Plus to cover the estimated costs of residual outcomes.
City Strategy Pathfinders were paid a grant of £42.5 million in 2007-08: an original allocation of £32.1 million plus authority to spend an additional £10.4 million. The Department does not hold a breakdown of expenditure by City Strategy Pathfinders at Jobcentre Plus District level.
|Deprived Areas Fund expenditure|
|Jobcentre Plus Districts|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|