To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many complaints submitted to the DWP Independent Case Examiner are awaiting allocation to an Investigation Case Manager as of 2 December 2022; what the average wait time was for complaints to be allocated to an Independent Case Manager in the latest period for which data is available; and what steps his Department is taking to reduce Independent Case Examiner waiting times.
Post-Covid, ICE has seen an increased number of referrals accompanied by an increase in the number of cases it has accepted. In the year April 2021 to March 2022, there was a 17% increase in the number of complaints being referred to ICE and a 68% increase in the number of complaints being accepted for examination, compared to the previous reporting year.
Currently, there are 1249 cases awaiting allocation to an ICE investigator.
The rate at which complaints can be allocated to an investigator is dependent on multiple factors, including the volume and complexity of complaints received, as well as available investigative resource.
The average time taken, as at 5 December, from complaint receipt to allocation to an investigator (based on all current live cases being investigated) is 53 weeks (67 weeks for CMS cases, 50 weeks for DWP cases, 44 weeks for Provider cases).
The ICE office is continuously reviewing its own processes and operating model to improve productivity and is piloting a new way of allocating cases according to their nature and complexity as part of the initial complaint review.
The office has recruited 11 more investigators since April with a further 6 due to start in January 2023.