HC Deb 08 April 1998 vol 310 c382W
Mr. Hoyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if she will instruct the Independent Tribunal Service to respond to the inquiries from the hon. Member for Chorley made by fax on 20, 23 and 24 March on behalf of a constituent; [36943]

(2) what percentage of telephone calls are answered by the Independent Tribunal Service within three minutes; [36945]

(3) if she will make a statement on the time taken by the Independent Tribunal Service headquarters to respond to requests for assistance on benefits matters from (a) the public and (b) hon. Members; [36944]

(4) how many complaints she has received concerning response times of the Independent Tribunal Service in Nottingham in the last year. [36946]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The operation of the appeals system is a matter for the Independent Tribunal Service (ITS).

ITS report that a response to my hon. Friend's fax was sent by its Nottingham office on Friday 27 March 1998.

The time taken to respond to inquiries varies according to the nature and complexity of the individual enquiry. All inquiries, from whatever source, are answered normally within two weeks.

Information regarding the percentage of telephone calls answered within three minutes are not kept and information about the number of complaints received regarding response times is not available.

We are determined to reduce the current delays and complexity in the appeals system. The Social Security Bill, which paves the way for modernising the delivery of Social Security, including the handling of appeals, is currently being debated in Committee in the House of Lords. We shall assume responsibility for the administration of the appeals system. We shall set and publish demanding targets for the administration of appeals and report on the results.