§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action he is taking in response to the chief adjudication officer's report on the number of(a) decisions in 1993–94 which were unsatisfactory and (b) decisions regarding appeals against benefit disqualification in the past year which did not follow the prescribed procedures.
§ Miss Widdecombe
Responsibility for the subject of' the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to the Mr. Jim Cunningham, dated 14 February 1995:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the action being taken in response to the Chief Adjudication Officers's (CAO) Annual Report on Adjudication Standards for 1993–94.
The fact that a monitoring comment has been raised by the CAO's adjudication monitors does not necessarily mean that the adjudication decision is incorrect, but rather that the adjudication process was not correctly followed in one or more respects. Similarly, where a comment is raised on a written appeal submission, it is an indication that some aspect of the information included in it was either deficient or incomplete. The type of shortcomings identified by the CAO are unlikely to affect the outcome of appeals.
The CAO recognises that some of the deficiencies in the adjudication process identified by his monitoring are more significant than others. One of the principal concerns must he whether the claimant received the correct amount of benefit but, until the current operational year, the monitoring procedures did not 619W assess this factor. When the CAO's monitoring for the current year (1994–95) is completed this information will be available for the first time and will enable him to focus his findings more closely on our service to claimants in the quality of decision making, as well as on deficiencies in aspects of the adjudication process.
I responded positively to the findings and recommendations made by the CAO in his 1992–93 report, which was published on 24 November 1993. My people introduced a package of measures aimed at improving the overall quality of our adjudication function.
This package includes a statistically valid system of quality monitoring; a review of all forms and procedures; and the creation of a permanent Quality Working Group. In his 1993–94 report, the CAO confirms that he expects these measures to lead to improved standards, and that their effect will be reflected in future reports by the CAO.
Two out of six recommendations in the CAO's 1993–94 report focused on the quality of adjudication within the Employment Service. They related to review and overpayment decisions and the standard of written appeal submissions respectively. These recommendations are currently being addressed by our Quality Working Group.
I hope this is helpful.