HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 cc325-6W
Gregory Barker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what performance indicators and output targets are used by the National Asylum Support Service to measure the efficiency of its service to asylum seekers and other stakeholders; and how the NASS performed against these performance indicators and output targets in the latest year for which figures are available. [120805]

Beverley Hughes

For the financial year 2002–03 the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) had a target to increase to 70 per cent, the proportion of applications for support decided within five working days by the end of March 2003. The latest outturn figure available shows that 38 per cent, of applications for support were decided (assessed and accommodation arranged) within five working days. It has not been possible to meet the target of 70 per cent, of applications decided by March 2003 because of delays in processing the backlog of applications.

NASS also had a target to reduce the annual cost of support asylum seekers by maintaining the actual cost at £130 per week for single asylum seekers and £280 per week for families. The latest available figures show that the actual cost of supporting single asylum seekers was £120 per week and £276 per week for families.

In common with the rest of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, NASS is expected to respond to 95 per cent, of ministerial correspondence agreed with the Cabinet Office. During the year IND as a whole fell short of this target although there was continuous improvement in performance during the latter half of the year and further initiatives aimed at speeding up processing times are being planned. Letters from the public on general NASS issues should be responded to within 20 days of receipt. This target is being met.

Correspondence about individual support applicants is also subject to targets for response. Targets for response depend on the nature of the correspondence. Correspondence which can be fast tracked will receive meaningful action within three working days. Correspondence raising complex issues will receive meaningful action within 10 working days. For example, an application for a single additional payment will be assessed within three working days of receipt and the applicant is notified of the outcome at this stage. Any payment approved will be included in the support applicant's regular payment within three weeks of the application being made.

All targets are monitored to ensure compliance and any backlog is addressed to avoid unnecessary delay.