HC Deb 03 April 1995 vol 257 cc958-9W
Mr. Donohoe

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the public information telephone inquiry lines operated by his Department, in each case indicating the costs of establishing, operating and publicising these lines and the number of calls made to them up until this point; when they were established; and what assessment his Department has made of their effectiveness. [17458]

Mr. Hague

The full information is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The available information is as follows.

The public inquiry office is available to members of the public at national call rate. The number of calls taken from January to December 1994 was 86,355. This service is monitored routinely to establish how many incoming calls are presented to the system; the number answered and the average waiting time for answers. This line is not intended to provide a full public enquiry service for the Department, only for members of the public who need to contact the administrative headquarters in London. Other public information lines are available in the Department's agencies, as follows:

January—December 1994 Calls handled
Benefits agency
Freeline 2,688,000
Benefit inquiry line 930,000
Family credit advice line 2,173,000
Disability living allowance line 2,206,000
Pensions advice line, introduced June 1994 60,392

An assessment of effectiveness is included as part of a national customer service survey undertaken on behalf of the Benefits Agency by Public Attitudes Survey Ltd. It is intended that this will continue annually.

Contributions agency
Social security advice line for employers 240,000

Independent research has predicted the demand for this service will increase by 30 per cent. during the next two years.

War pensions agency
War pensions help line Approximately 600,000 calls sincestart up in january1992

A customer perception survey started six months after set up has been started on a rolling basis to assess customer satisfaction.

Child support agency
National inquiry line 356,569 calls answered since June 1994 when a centralised service was established. This was previously administered from individual agency centres.

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