Departmental Telephone Services

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 1st November 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Lloyd Stephen Lloyd Liberal Democrat, Eastbourne

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department has allocated to each telephone helpline funded by his Department in 2011-12; what the purpose is of each such helpline; and how many calls each helpline received in the last 12 months.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) operates several telephone helplines and service lines. It has not been possible to provide a detailed breakdown of funding for each service line, as many DWP people are to be multi skilled, either across several service lines and helplines or they perform both telephony and processing duties.

The information provided is by business.

Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus operates 22 service lines. Figures for calls received are for the last 12 months unless otherwise stated:

First contact—where members of the public contact us to make a new claim to benefit. Calls received 5,968,813;

Crisis loans (for living expenses)—where claimants contact us to apply for a Crisis loan. Calls received 7,648,744;

Employer Direct—where employers contact us to place a vacancy. Calls received 801,363;

National insurance number (NINO) allocation—where people without a NINO can apply for one. Calls received 1,256,240;

National benefit fraud hotline—where members of the public report claimants for suspected benefit fraud. Calls received 254,314;

Tax evasion hotline—is operated by Jobcentre Plus on behalf of HMRC, members of the public report people for suspected tax evasion. Calls received 53,776;

Local authority fraud—is operated by Jobcentre Plus on behalf of local authorities, members of the public report people for suspected housing benefit or council tax benefit fraud. Calls received 7,243;

Jobseekers allowance (JSA) benefit enquiry line—JSA claimants can report a change of circumstances or make an enquiry about their claim. Calls received 12,161,938;

Income support (IS) benefit enquiry line—IS claimants can report a change of circumstances or make an enquiry about their claim. Calls received 6,880,021;

Incapacity benefit (IB) enquiry line—IB claimants can report a change of circumstances or make an enquiry about their claim. Calls received 1,706,724;

IB reassessment—Dealing with claimants enquiring about IB reassessment. Calls received 187,352;

Employment support allowance (ESA)—Benefit for working age claimants unable to work on grounds of incapacity. Calls received 1,654,844

Employment support allowance (ESA) enquiry line—ESA claimants can report a change of circumstances or make an enquiry about their claim. Calls received 7,935,594;

Maternity allowance—where members of the public contact us to make a new claim to maternity allowance. Calls received 262,821;

Overseas vacancy team—where employers contact us to place a vacancy outside of the UK. Calls received 141;

International jobsearch advice—is for members of the public who want information about working and living abroad. Calls received 431;

Jobseeker direct—members of the public can call to look for jobs or obtain more information about a particular vacancy they have found. Calls received 3,600,086;

Self service helpdesk—technical support for customers who are having difficulty making an application to benefit online. Calls received 4,394;

UK Borders Agency Immigration Enquiry Bureau—Jobcentre Plus are currently running a proof of concept exercise in partnership with UKBA taking some of their calls dealing with enquiries from immigration and emigration. Calls received 136,745 (figures from February 2011 only);

E-Business operational support team—technical support for employers who are having difficulty placing a vacancy online. Calls received 38,489;

Small and medium business recruitment helpline—offers advice and support to small and medium-sized businesses and guides them through the recruitment process. Calls received 28,810;

Social fund—enquiry line for customers relating to enquiries re social fund claims. Calls received 5,962,228.

The overall budget for this year is £212.3 million and this is broken down into £197.8 million for staff costs and £14.5 million for non-staff costs. Agents who operate Jobcentre Plus service lines are multi skilled, which means that they answer calls across multiple service lines. This means that they are unable to provide a breakdown of funding per service line. They do not undertake any duties other than telephony.

Shared Services

Shared services are split into three areas, purchase to pay and payment resolution service, employee services and debt management.

Purchase to pay and payment resolution service operates three service lines and helplines;

Purchase to pay helpline—is for suppliers relating to queries around payments for goods and services. It also receives calls from Jobcentre Plus advisers and claimants seeking clarification on payments made to support people back to work. Calls received 131,675.

This line is operated by approximately 13 staff and costs £290,000 per annum.

Bank liaison section—is an internal helpline and receives calls from Pension Centre or Jobcentre Plus staff requesting that the bank liaison section recalls a payment from a bank account. Calls received 169,820.

This line is operated by approximately five staff and costs £110,000 per annum.

Third party payments helpline—is a helpline for third party creditors, for example utilities companies and local authorities, querying payments made to them following deductions made from benefits. Calls received 25,258.

This line is operated by approximately 2.5 staff and costs £55,000 per annum.

The Purchase to Pay and Payment Resolution Service estimated non-staff annual costs are £128,508. This means that overall this service will cost £583,508 this operational year.

Employee Services operates three internal service lines and helplines for DWP employees to raise HR and payroll queries.

Simple queries are answered at the first point of contact and funding of £1.510 million has been provided for this year. Calls received 235,570;

More complex queries are handled by specialist caseworkers and funding of £169,000 has been provided for this year. 509 complex cases handled;

An external recruitment helpline is operated for candidates applying for externally advertised posts. Due to the civil service recruitment freeze no funding has been provided for this activity for 2011/12. Calls received 624.

Employee Services estimated non-staff annual costs are £299,520. This means that overall this service will cost £1,978,520 this operational year.

Debt Management does not operate any helplines but has three service lines:

Debt Recovery—is for customers to make enquiries about new or ongoing debt cases. Calls received 970,188;

Debt Payment—debt customers are able to make direct payments through debit card transactions. Calls received 139,189;

Recovery from Estates—is for enquiries regarding debt recovery from a deceased customer's estate. Calls received 61,346.

Debt management's overall budget for this year is £6,902,967 and this is broken down into £6,121,755 for staff costs and £781,212 for non-staff costs.

Pensions

PDCS operates 15 helplines and service lines:

State pension new claims—where members of the public contact us to claim their state pension. Calls received 994,805;

Pension credit new claims—for customers who have an enquiry relating to pension credit. This includes checking entitlement, making a new claim or progressing a claim which they have already started. Calls received 1,016,810;

State pension changes—for customers who are in receipt of their state pension and wish to inform PDCS of a change of circumstances. Calls received 2,361,965;

Pension credit changes—for customers who are in receipt of their pension credit and wish to inform PDCS of a change of circumstances. Calls received 2,477,115;

Bereavement service—for customers who are calling to report bereavement, this provides advice and support on how to cease benefits. Calls received 566,145;

Future Pension Centre—for members of the public at working age who want a pension forecast. Calls received 672,742

National Pension Centre—for customers who are in receipt of state pension and are above a certain age who wish to make a query about their claim or report a change of circumstances. Calls received 457,572

International Pension Centre—for customers who are living abroad and are in receipt of state pension. Calls received 501,573

Tell Us Once service—is undertaking a phased roll-out approach and allows customers who live within certain local authorities to give details of bereavement and this will notify all other affected authorities of the bereavement. Calls received 11,216;

Winter fuel—for customers who have a query relating to winter fuel. This service is only available within the months of November to March. Calls received 363,605;

Pension tracing service—for customers who have lost details of a Pension scheme which they were previously contributing to. Calls received 51,744;

Method of payment reform service—for customers who receive their state pension or pension credit via cheque or giro cheque and need to change their payment method to direct payment to a bank account. Calls received 13,566;

Method of payment social fund—for customers who receive their state pension or pension credit via cheque or giro cheque and need to change their payment method to direct payment to a bank account. Calls received 4,322;

Overseas healthcare team—for customers making enquiries about healthcare abroad. This is includes applying for, renewing and make changes to a European Health Insurance Card. It is also an advice line for customers who are travelling abroad as well as a helpline for NHS and insurance workers. Calls received 124,093;

Ventura [DLA] DCS claims—The DCS Claims line deal with customer requests for claim packs regarding disability living allowance and attendance allowance. Calls received 11,351

Pensions budgets are calculated by Pension Centre rather than by function and staff perform both telephony and processing duties, which means that it is not possible to provide a breakdown by service line nor how much funding is given to their telephony services. Pensions have an overall budget of £155 million for this operational year.

Disability and Carers Service

Disability and Carers Service operates three service lines and have no helplines.

Carers allowance—for customers who have caring responsibilities for a disabled person and deals with all enquiries, including new claims. Calls received 962,707.

This service line has a budget of £3.5 million for this operational year and includes staff and non-staff costs.

Disability living allowance/attendance allowance helpline—deals with all enquiries, including new claims, for disability living allowance and attendance allowance. Calls received 4,789,944.

This service line has a budget of £8.7 million for this operational year and includes staff and non-staff costs.

Benefit enquiry line (BEL)—is a helpline for people with disabilities, their carers and representatives, offering confidential advice and general information on all benefits and how to claim them. Calls received 700,816.

This service line has a budget of £1.1 million for this operational year and includes staff and non-staff costs.

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