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Ministerial Correction

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Justice

Employment and Support Allowance: Appeals

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people (a) in Hull and (b) nationally have been waiting more than 12 months for an employment and support allowance appeal. [103497]

[Official Report, 18 April 2012, Vol. 543, c. 432-33W.]

Letter of correction from Jonathan Djanogly:

An error has been identified in the written answer given to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) on 18 April 2012. The figure for the average waiting times for employment and support allowance appeals in Hull was incorrect.

The full answer given was as follows:

Mr Djanogly: It is not possible to provide the number of employment and support allowance (ESA) appeals that are over 12 months old at this time because the data does not form part of the published statistics and so was not extracted the last time the statistics were produced. To ensure the consistency and integrity of data, Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) only provides data based upon published statistics. I will therefore arrange for the number of appeals over 12 months old nationally and in Hull to be supplied to the hon. Member when the next social security and child support data are published for the quarter to March 2012.

The following table shows the average time taken from receipt of an appeal until the date of the first appeal hearing at HMCTS for ESA appeals nationally and in Hull. The information covers 1 April 2011 to 31 December 2011, the latest period for which published data is available.

Average waiting times—employment and support allowance
 NationalHull

Average time in weeks from receipt at HMCTS to first hearing

22.7

17.4

Note: These data are taken from management information.

HMCTS is working hard to increase the capacity of the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal (SSCS) and reduce waiting times. It has increased hearing rooms; the number of cases listed in each session; and the number of sessions held: streamlined its administrative processes; started running double shifts in its largest processing centre so that more appeals can be processed each day; started running Saturday sittings in some of the busiest venues (where there is demand and where it is feasible); set up a customer contact centre to deal with telephone inquiries for the processing sites, freeing

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up other staff to focus on processing appeals and arranging hearings; and recruited more judges and panel members to hear more appeals.

All of this is having a positive effect. The number of disposals has increased significantly from 279,000 in 2009-10 to 380,000 in 2010-11. Disposals outstripped receipts in each of the 12 months between January 2011 and December 2011 and the number of cases waiting to be heard reduced by over 44,000 between April and December. The average waiting time has stabilised nationally, and is beginning to fall in many venues.

The correct answer should have been:

Mr Djanogly: It is not possible to provide the number of employment and support allowance (ESA) appeals that are over 12 months old at this time because the data does not form part of the published statistics and so was not extracted the last time the statistics were produced. To ensure the consistency and integrity of data, Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) only provides data based upon published statistics. I will therefore arrange for the number of appeals over 12 months old nationally and in Hull to be supplied to the hon. Member when the next social security and child support data are published for the quarter to March 2012.

The following table shows the average time taken from receipt of an appeal until the date of the first appeal hearing at HMCTS for ESA appeals nationally and in Hull. The information covers 1 April 2011 to 31 December 2011, the latest period for which published data is available.

Average waiting times—employment and support allowance
 NationalHull

Average time in weeks from receipt at HMCTS to first hearing

22.7

21.4

Note: These data are taken from management information.

HMCTS is working hard to increase the capacity of the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal (SSCS) and reduce waiting times. It has increased hearing rooms; the number of cases listed in each session; and the number of sessions held: streamlined its administrative processes; started running double shifts in its largest processing centre so that more appeals can be processed each day; started running Saturday sittings in some of the busiest venues (where there is demand and where it is feasible); set up a customer contact centre to deal with telephone inquiries for the processing sites, freeing up other staff to focus on processing appeals and arranging hearings; and recruited more judges and panel members to hear more appeals.

All of this is having a positive effect. The number of disposals has increased significantly from 279,000 in 2009-10 to 380,000 in 2010-11. Disposals outstripped receipts in each of the 12 months between January 2011 and December 2011 and the number of cases waiting to be heard reduced by over 44,000 between April and December. The average waiting time has stabilised nationally, and is beginning to fall in many venues.