To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
(1) where the call centre handling calls to the adult learning grant helpline is located;
(2) what the average length of time is for an application for adult learning grant to be processed following receipt of a completed application form;
(3) what training is given to staff responsible for responding to calls by members of the public to the adult learning grant helpline; and if he will make a statement;
(4) how many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff are employed to manage and operate the adult learning grant helpline;
(5) how many applications for adult learning grant have been (a) made, ( b) accepted and (c) refused in (i) England, (ii) the area of the Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Learning and Skills Council, (iii) Buckinghamshire and (iv) Aylesbury parliamentary constituency in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement.
Adult learning grant has been available throughout England since September 2007 and during its pilot phase showed that it was successful at helping more individuals raise their skill levels through completing their training and gaining a qualification. It is intended to help low skilled individuals in work on low incomes achieve their first full Level 2 or first full Level 3 qualification. The grant offers up to £30 per week.
The issues raised are matters for the Learning and Skills Council adult learning grant for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and have responsibility for the contract with the helpline, assessment and payment body. Mark Haysom, the Council's chief executive, will write to the hon. Gentleman with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.
Letter from Verity Bullough, dated
In the absence of Mark Haysom I am writing in response to your parliamentary questions that asked:
1. What performance indicators have been set to asses the (a) quality of customer service provided by the adult learning grant helpline and (b) efficiency of the processing of applications for adult learning grant; and if he will make a statement.
The administration of Adult Learning Grant moves to a new system from September 2008, This is part of wider changes to bring together the delivery of a number of strands of the LSC Learner Support, Programme, in order to give improved service to prospective learners.
Delivery of the Adult Learning Grant on the old system in the first term of this academic year was not always satisfactory. Service performance indicators have been set for the new system and these have been met since early January. A baseline survey of the helpline was carried out last year and will be repeated when the new service is in operation, to assess improvement and customer satisfaction.
2. How many applications to grant have been (a) made, (b) accepted and (c) refused in (i) England, (ii) the area of the Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Learning and Skills Council, (iii) Buckinghamshire and (iv) Aylesbury parliamentary constituency in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement.
Application information is available at LSC area level but not at local authority or constituency level.
The table below shows application data for the Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes LSC area.
|Area||Applications received||Applications accepted (Awards)||Applications refused||Applications in progress|
|Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes||572||421||104||47|
3. Where the call centre handling calls to the Adult Learning Grant helpline is located.
The Call Centre dedicated to handling Adult Learning Grant calls is in Manchester, with a back-up site in Barrow and imminent further back-up sites in Coventry and Darlington.
4. What training is given to staff responsible for responding to calls by members of the public to the Adult Learning Grant helpline; and if he will make a statement.
Advisors undertake an initial two week training course incorporating mentoring with an experienced advisor and ongoing support and guidance from team leaders. Training continues throughout the Advisors' employment
5. What is the average length of time for an application for Adult Learning Grant to be processed following receipt of a completed application form.
Applications are processed and a communication to the applicant is sent within 10 days of receipt.
6. How many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff are employed to manage and operate the Adult Learning Grant helpline.
Staff levels dedicated to ALG calls vary in accordance with volumes of calls. There is a core of 7 full-time staff increasing to 27 full-time staff as required.
7. What is the average length of time for dispatch of an Adult Learning Grant pack following receipt of a request from a member of the public.
ALG application forms are available from learning providers, Nextstep, Connexions and Learndirect. Learndirect despatch application packs direct to applicants within two working days of the request being made by 2(nd) class post. Learndirect advise callers that the application form should be with them within 7 days.