To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to increase the number of decision assurance calls to employment and support allowance applicants; and what assessment he has made of their effect.
My Department will run a pilot exercise in March to test possible improvements to the success rate of the decision assurance call. The pilot will aim to increase the success rates using text messages, with a text message being issued prior to the decision assurance call to give a stronger message to the claimant that it is important to take this call to prevent a gap or delay in payment. A follow up message will be issued after the second unsuccessful call to advise of the need to claim JSA immediately so that benefit payments can be made where employment and support allowance is to be disallowed. The results of the pilot will be monitored and evaluated to ensure that improvements can be successfully rolled out nationally. In addition guidance improvements have been made to increase the success rate of calls.
As part of the fourth independent review of the work capability assessment Dr Paul Litchfield made a recommendation about the decision assurance call. We are considering this, along with Dr Litchfield's other recommendations, as part of the Government's response to Dr Litchfield's review, which will be published in the first quarter of 2014.