To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they give to Jobcentre Plus staff about customer contact and information provision by text message, e-mail and other forms of electronic and digital communication.
The benefits adviser went live in April 2008, providing entitlement advice for 28 benefits, pensions and credits. The service enables customers to get an estimate of the amount of benefit that they may be entitled to and to put in "what if" scenarios to see how starting work or increasing their hours of work could affect their benefit. To date, we have had over 4 million visitors to the service.
Jobseeker's allowance (JSA) online was introduced in August 2009. The service enables unemployed customers to claim online, providing a convenient alternative channel, giving them the required flexibility identified by our customer insight. Customers who provide their e-mail address details will be sent e-mail confirmation that their application has been successfully received. More than 460,000 customers have successfully claimed JSA online.
An SMS text-messaging service for Jobcentre Plus customers was introduced from January 2011 to remind customers of appointments and to let them know when their medical certificates have been received. These messages do not contain personal information.
Before introducing new services such as the ones detailed above, we provide our change teams within Jobcentre Plus with guidance for cascade to appropriate staff. This is to ensure that staff are prepared in advance to be able to understand the new service and explain the changes to our customers. In addition, we have introduced digital champions into each Jobcentre whose role is to raise the profile of our online services and support offered to customers to develop digital skills.