Incapacity Benefit

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 23rd February 2005.

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Photo of Mr Howard Flight Mr Howard Flight Special Envoy To the City of London, Economic Affairs, Deputy Chair, Conservative Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

(1) what the average time taken to process a claim for incapacity benefit was in each year since 1975;

(2) what the average time taken to process a claim for income support was in each year since 1975;

(3) what the average time taken to process a claim for income-based jobseeker's allowance was in each year since 1975;

(4) what the average time taken to process a claim for contribution-based jobseeker's allowance was in each year since 1975.

Photo of Mr Chris Pond Mr Chris Pond Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Howard Flight, dated 23 February 2005

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply directly to your questions concerning the average time taken to process a claim for Incapacity Benefit, Income Support, Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance and Contribution-Based Jobseeker's Allowance in each year since 1975. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus sets internal performance measures for managing its workloads in addition to the published targets set by Ministers. These internal measures include clearance times for Incapacity Benefit, Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance. Currently, these internal measures are being met.

You will see from the following tables that the Average Actual Clearance Time for each of the benefits shown has increased, although our performance targets are still being met. The upward trend in clearance times reflects the greater emphasis on secure and accurate payment of benefit. Changes to the Claims and Payments regulations in 1997 put the onus of proof on customers to provide supporting evidence for a claim.

Increasing effort has been applied to enforcing this regime and we believe that this has been reflected in reductions in fraud (fraud and error losses have reduced by 37 per cent. between 1998 and 2004).

There has also been a significant period of change across the Department; the creation of Jobcentre Plus and The Pension Service involved considerable movement of staff between the two agencies and consequently required the training of new benefit processing officers.

Incapacity Benefit

Figures are only available from April 1998. The available information is in the table.

Average processing times for incapacity benefit claims.
Calendar

year

Average actual clearance time (days)
April-December 1998 11.9
1999 15.9
2000 16.0
2001 15.7
2002 16.2
2003 15.7
2004 16.9

Source:

Central Data Unit for figures up to and including July 2004; Management Information Systems Programme 04 (MISP04) from August 2004 to December 2004.

Income Support

Figures are only available from April 1994. The available information is in the table.

Average processing times for income support claims
Calendar

year

Average actual clearance time (days)
April to December 1994 5.6
1995 6.1
1996 7.0
1997 7.6
1998 8.8
1999 9.2
2000 9.2
2001 9.9
2002 8.7
2003 10.3
2004 10.9

Source:

Central Data Unit for figures up to and including July 2004; Management Information Systems Programme 04 (MISP04) from August 2004 to December 2004.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Figures are not available broken down by type of Jobseeker's Allowance. Figures are only available from 1997. The available information is in the table.

Average processing times for jobseeker's allowance claims
Calendar

year

Average actual clearance time (days)
1997 8.1
1998 8.7
1999 9.7
2000 9.1
2001 9.6
2002 10.2
2003 10.8
2004 12.0

Source:

Central Data Unit for figures up to and including July 2004; Management Information Systems Programme 04 (MISP04) from August 2004 to December 2004.

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