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Maternity Benefits

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 8th October 2008.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average processing time for maternity allowance claims was in each quarter in each of the last five years.

Photo of James Purnell James Purnell Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions

holding answer 15 September 2008

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested. The letter will be placed in the Library.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the average processing time for Maternity Allowance claims in each quarter in each of the last five years. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The time it takes to process Maternity Allowance applications is measured by counting the average length of time taken to clear all claims processed within a set time period. The measure is referred to as the Average Actual Clearance Time.

The average processing time for Maternity Allowance claims in each quarter in each of the last five years is contained in the table below.

Maternity allowance average actual clearance time (AACT)
Period AACT(days)
2003-04
Quarter 1 13.2
Quarter 2 13.8
Quarter 3 13.8
Quarter 4 13.3
2004-05
Quarter 1 13.4
Quarter 2 14.2
Quarter 3 14.1
Quarter 4 12.2
2005-06
Quarter 1 11.1
Quarter 2 11.6
Quarter 3 11.9
Quarter 4 12.7
2006-07
Quarter 1 14.5
Quarter 2 14.1
Quarter 3 12.9
Quarter 4 13.9
2007-08
Quarter 1 16.5
Quarter 2 18.8
Quarter 3 20.5
Quarter 4 18.2
2008-09
Quarter 1 21.0

Over the last few months increases in the number of births in the general population have led through to an increase in Maternity Allowance applications by a fifth. This increase coincided with centralisation into the four units and a temporary dip in productivity associated with retraining existing members of staff. This has led to a backlog of around 7000 claims.

We are responding to these difficulties by increasing the staffing in the centralised sites by a fifth, so they can cope with the increase in new applications. The 7000 backlog cases are being dealt with separately by sharing the cases across our wider network of Benefit Delivery Centres. We are making progress now on clearing these cases. This action has seen immediate improvements in clearance numbers and we expect to have fully cleared the backlog by this autumn.

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