§ Mr. Heald
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average number of days wait is before an unemployed person's initial appointment with a jobcentre adviser; what research his Department has conducted into the particular problems faced in waiting for appointments by agency workers who become unemployed for short periods of time on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Browne
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive, David Anderson. I have asked him to reply to the hon. Member.
Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Oliver Heald, dated 16 July 2003:As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning the average number of days an unemployed person has to wait for their initial appointment with a Jobcentre Plus advisor and the particular problems faced by agency workers who become unemployed for 758W short periods of time on a regular basis. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.We want to give every one who needs our help the best possible service, including providing them with prompt appointments when they are needed. Our Customer Charter, which details the level of service customers can expect from Jobcentre Plus, states our aim to make sure interviews, including initial interviews at the beginning of a claim, are undertaken within four working days of the customer making initial contact. This aim applies to all our customers, including agency workers.We do not collect dam about the number of days unemployed people have to wait for an initial interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser. However, we do have a target for the end to end processing of new claims which includes the time leading up to the initial interview. Our target is to make the first payment within 12 days of initial contact about a claim and I am pleased to say that the average clearance time for Jobseeker's Allowance is currently only 10.5 days.I hope this is helpful rid assures you of our intent to provide people with the best possible service.