§ Mrs. Anne Campbell
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the Appeals Service Agency will be introduced; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Angela Eagle
The Appeals Service agency will be established with effect from Monday 3 April 2000. This new executive agency will be responsible for administration of appeals, and its Chief Executive will be accountable to Parliament for performance. Appeal tribunals will remain independent of the Department with the President, who remains head of the tribunal Non Departmental Public Body, and panel members being appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The new structure will bring greater accountability, but will also retain and support the independence and impartiality of tribunals.
In the past year, following the introduction of the new decision making and appeals arrangements, the Appeals Service under its Chief Executive designate has achieved both substantial reductions in the backlog of older cases and reduced waiting times for appeals to be heard. Full agency status, and the fact that the Chief Executive will be accountable to Parliament for the agency's performance for the first time, will provide the scope to consolidate these gains and wherever possible improve upon them over the coming year.
A Framework Document for the agency will set out its aims and objectives, together with lines of accountability and details of planning, reporting, personnel and finance arrangements. A Service First statement will set out the standards of service appellants can expect from the agency. A Business Plan has also been published, together with Secretary of State targets for the forthcoming year. Copies of these documents are being placed in the Library.274W
£000 Approximate costs Initial start up costs (including staff and resources for the launch of the service) 430 Annual cost for service and maintenance 80 Costs for annual licence 50
These costs are only available for the Department as a whole and are borne by the Information Technology Services Agency who undertake a corporate role with respect to DSS Internet service provision.
Statistics Average hits (departmental) 2,510,316 Estimated average user sessions (departmental) 636,967