Dear Sir or Madam,

Please can you provide me with a breakdown of the number of outstanding Child Benefit claims by the number of weeks that the claims have been in progress?

Thank you for your help.

Yours faithfully,

Matt Raven

Chapman, Juliette (Governance Group, L&F), HM Revenue and Customs

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    Freedom of Information request Child benefit processing time breakdown.html

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    FOI 1665 Matt Raven Acknowledgement Letter.doc

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Message sent on behalf of Michael Armstrong

Kind Regards

Juliette Chapman/Lucy Howe
Freedom of Information Unit
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Child Benefit Office, HM Revenue and Customs

Dear Mr Raven

I refer to your request under the above legislation for information about Child Benefit claims in which you have asked that we provide you with a breakdown of the number of outstanding Child Benefit claims by the number of weeks that the claims have been in progress.

We do not hold this information. However, although it does not exactly meet your request and is consequently being provided outside the terms of the Act, you may be interested to know that for the period April 2008 to March 2009 we received 977,829 Child Benefit claims and our target and results on all Child Benefit claims were:

- Target - Pay 69% of all new Child Benefit in 9 working days.
- Results - 65.3% for 08/09 of all Child Benefit claims were paid in 9 working days.
- Target - All new claims to be paid within an average of 20 calendar days.
-Results - All new claims were paid within 28 (average) calendar days.

Our claims target achievements from April 2008 to March 2009 are as follows:

Month Average Clearance in days
Apr-08 27.7
May-08 26.8
Jun-08 26.9
Jul-08 27.6
Aug-08 27.4
Sep-08 28.4
Oct-08 28.6
Nov-08 28.7
Dec-08 28.7
Jan-09 28.6
Feb-09 28.8
Mar-09 28

From April 2009 to May 2009 we received 157,462 Child Benefit claims and our end of year results for the period April 2009 to March 2010 will be published next year.

If you are not happy with this reply you may request a review by writing to HMRC FOI Team, Room 4/52, 100 Parliament Street London SWIA 2BQ. You must request a review within two months of the date of this letter. It would assist our review if you set out which aspects of the reply concern you and why you are dissatisfied.

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The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder. Most documents supplied by HMRC will have been produced by government officials and will be Crown Copyright. You can find details on the arrangements for re-using Crown Copyright on HMSOnline (internet access required) at:

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Yours sincerely

Yvonne Aubrey
Freedom of Information Unit
Child Benefit Office

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Website: www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit

Helplines:

Great Britain: 0845 302 1444
Minicom / Textphone: 0845 302 1474

If you are phoning from outside Great Britain: 00 44 161 2103086
Opening hours 7 days a week 08.00 to 20.00

If your preferred language is Welsh: 0845 302 1489
Opening hours Monday to Friday 08.30 to 17.00

show quoted sections

Dear Yvonne Aubrey,

Thank you very much for your reply.

I am however slightly confused - In your reply you state that "All new claims were paid within 28 (average) calendar days", however we have been waiting for five months now for our claim to be processed (received on 30 January 2009) and we were told on contacting the office that new claims could "take up to 26 weeks and usually take all of that time". How does that square with all claims being paid in an average of 28 working days? Obviously a high number of claims being processed quickly would lower the average time, but the statement from your colleague suggests that 6 months is the norm.

Obviously you cannot give any information about our specific case, but anecdotally I have friends whose claims have taken a similar amount of time.

Incidentally I find it rather odd that you do not have a breakdown of the processing time, surely one is needed to assess whether target are being met and also to see where delays are occurring? You have the average clearance time in days, to arrive at an average surely the actual figures must be known?

Thank you again for your help so far, but please could you double check whether the breakdown of processing times is available as it would appear to have been used to produce the figures that you have kindly provided. I would also welcome an explanation of the apparent discrepancy between your figures and the experience of my family and friends in claiming.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Raven

Child Benefit Office, HM Revenue and Customs

Thank you for getting in touch with the Child Benefit Office.

Our email service is temporarily unavailable and your message has not been read by an advisor.

For an alternative service, please visit our website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/cont...

show quoted sections

Dear Yvonne Aubrey,

Resent asyour email system was down nd the response suggests that the original was lost.

Thank you very much for your reply.

I am however slightly confused - In your reply you state that "All
new claims were paid within 28 (average) calendar days", however we
have been waiting for five months now for our claim to be processed
(received on 30 January 2009) and we were told on contacting the
office that new claims could "take up to 26 weeks and usually take
all of that time". How does that square with all claims being paid
in an average of 28 working days? Obviously a high number of claims
being processed quickly would lower the average time, but the
statement from your colleague suggests that 6 months is the norm.

Obviously you cannot give any information about our specific case,
but anecdotally I have friends whose claims have taken a similar
amount of time.

Incidentally I find it rather odd that you do not have a breakdown
of the processing time, surely one is needed to assess whether
target are being met and also to see where delays are occurring?
You have the average clearance time in days, to arrive at an
average surely the actual figures must be known?

Thank you again for your help so far, but please could you double
check whether the breakdown of processing times is available as it
would appear to have been used to produce the figures that you have
kindly provided. I would also welcome an explanation of the
apparent discrepancy between your figures and the experience of my
family and friends in claiming.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Raven

Child Benefit Office, HM Revenue and Customs

Thank you for getting in touch with the Child Benefit Office.

Our email service is temporarily unavailable and your message has not been read by an advisor.

For an alternative service, please visit our website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/cont...

show quoted sections

Dear Yvonne Aubrey,

Resent as your email system was down and the response suggests that the original was lost.

Thank you very much for your reply.

I am however slightly confused - In your reply you state that "All new claims were paid within 28 (average) calendar days", however we have been waiting for five months now for our claim to be processed (received on 30 January 2009) and we were told on contacting the office that new claims could "take up to 26 weeks and usually take all of that time". How does that square with all claims being paid in an average of 28 working days? Obviously a high number of claims being processed quickly would lower the average time, but the statement from your colleague suggests that 6 months is the norm.

Obviously you cannot give any information about our specific case, but anecdotally I have friends whose claims have taken a similar amount of time.

Incidentally I find it rather odd that you do not have a breakdown of the processing time, surely one is needed to assess whether target are being met and also to see where delays are occurring?

You have the average clearance time in days, to arrive at an average surely the actual figures must be known?

Thank you again for your help so far, but please could you double check whether the breakdown of processing times is available as it would appear to have been used to produce the figures that you have kindly provided. I would also welcome an explanation of the apparent discrepancy between your figures and the experience of my family and friends in claiming.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Raven

Child Benefit Office, HM Revenue and Customs

Thank you for getting in touch with the Child Benefit Office.

Our email service is temporarily unavailable and your message has not been read by an advisor.

For an alternative service, please visit our website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/cont...

show quoted sections

Matt Raven left an annotation ()

Funny sort of "temporary" unavailability

Dear Yvonne Aubrey,

Resent as your email system was down and the response suggests that the original was lost.

Thank you very much for your reply.

I am however slightly confused - In your reply you state that "All new claims were paid within 28 (average) calendar days", however we have been waiting for five months now for our claim to be processed (received on 30 January 2009) and we were told on contacting the office that new claims could "take up to 26 weeks and usually take all of that time". How does that square with all claims being paid in an average of 28 working days? Obviously a high number of claims being processed quickly would lower the average time, but the statement from your colleague suggests that 6 months is the norm.

Obviously you cannot give any information about our specific case, but anecdotally I have friends whose claims have taken a similar amount of time.

Incidentally I find it rather odd that you do not have a breakdown of the processing time, surely one is needed to assess whether target are being met and also to see where delays are occurring?

You have the average clearance time in days, to arrive at an average surely the actual figures must be known?

Thank you again for your help so far, but please could you double check whether the breakdown of processing times is available as it would appear to have been used to produce the figures that you have kindly provided. I would also welcome an explanation of the apparent discrepancy between your figures and the experience of my family and friends in claiming.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Raven

Child Benefit Office, HM Revenue and Customs

Dear Mr Raven

Thank you for your email of 1 August 2009 following our earlier contact about your Freedom of Information request. We have not treated your email of 1 August 2009 as a request to review our earlier answer and are just addressing your additional points.

Because you have not given me any of your personal details and information about your Child Benefit claim I can only answer you in general terms. If you wish I can make enquiries about your specific Child Benefit claim but you will need to tell me your full name and address your National Insurance number and if you already have one, your Child Benefit number.

As previously explained to you for April 2008 to March 2009 our targets and results for dealing with Child Benefit claims are detailed below.

1. Target - Pay 69% of all new Child Benefit in 9 working days.
2. Results - 65.3% for 08/09 of all Child Benefit claims were paid in 9 working days.
3. Target - All new claims to be paid within an average of 20 calendar days.
4. Results - All new claims were paid within 28 (average) calendar days.

Since April 2009 our Claims targets have been changed to pay 66% of all new Child Benefit in 9 working days. The latest figures available for April to July 2009 show that we have met this target.

You are right to say that in calculating these figures we can only take an average and therefore it follows that some claims will take a very short time to process whilst others can take considerably longer to deal with.

I would like to explain that Child Benefit clearance times, including the average time to pay, is measured by looking at a random sample of claims processed in a particular month. The size of the sample is statistically valid for the purpose of performance reporting. Clearance times are recorded by measuring the length of time taken within the sample from the date that the claim was received until the date that Child Benefit was paid to the customer.

Each new claim in the sample is analysed and the receipt dates and paid dates recorded for each. After the whole sample has been checked, the average number of days is recorded and the performance results reported.

As this result is an average of time taken, there will be some cases that are paid more quickly than others; we pay 66% of claims in 9 days and so some will take longer. The fact that cases are only sampled on payment explains why we don¿t have figures for those that have not yet been paid which means that we are unable to provide the breakdown you have asked for.

However on a general note we acknowledge there have been delays processing claims for Child Benefit and Her Majesty¿s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are very aware of the difficulties this may have caused to the families involved. HMRC have seen a rise in Child Benefit work in recent years and the nature of this work has changed over the same period of time, with an increase in work from customers moving in and out of the United Kingdom and in household breakdowns. The complexities involved in this type of work mean that claims from these customer groups often do take longer to resolve.

Over the past few months the Child Benefit Office has introduced a number of changes to the way they handle Child Benefit claims to improve processes and reduce the time customers have to wait for their claims to be dealt with. In addition HMRC has recently allocated more staff to Child Benefit Office. The changes have helped to ensure more claims are being dealt with more quickly and have led to improvements in performance.

I acknowledge there is still more to be done and further changes are planned to re-organise the Child Benefit Office to realise further improvements.

You have also expressed concerns about the information given by our Helpline about processing times of ChB claims. Because of the current very high volumes of claims being received, to manage customer¿s expectations our agents are telling customers that in some complex cases it can take up to 26 weeks to processes a claim. Where it is evident that a customer is in hardship we do all we can to quickly deal with their claim.

HMRC has also invested in extra staff to support its Child Benefit Helpline and this is helping to ease some of the difficulties that customers have encountered when trying to get through by telephone. In addition HMRC are piloting a new Child Benefit Helpline specifically for Intermediaries. This will provide intermediaries, such as Citizens Advice Bureau, with better access to enable them to deal with queries about Child Benefit and alleviate some of the problems you have described.

I hope that are reassured that HMRC are addressing the concerns you have raised and I thank you for taking the time to raise them with me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain the position.

Yours sincerely

Yvonne Aubrey
Freedom of Information Unit

Please do not click on 'reply' to this email. If you do other people using the Internet could see personal information about you.

If you need to reply, click on the link below.
Reply from our website at:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/cont...

Website: www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit

Helplines:

Great Britain: 0845 302 1444
Minicom / Textphone: 0845 302 1474

If you are phoning from outside Great Britain: 00 44 161 2103086
Opening hours 7 days a week 08.00 to 20.00

If your preferred language is Welsh: 0845 302 1489
Opening hours Monday to Friday 08.30 to 17.00

show quoted sections

Dear Yvonne Aubrey,

Thank you for your reply.

I still find it incredible that you do not monitor time outstanding directly. Surely it would make it easier to target outstanding cases? For example it would enable you to assign one group to clear the backlog while another group try to stay up to date with new cases. It would be a relatively simple SQL statement to extract the data. Of course, having the full data might affect your average processing times

Incidentally, while you might not have been able to comment on my specific case, but entirely coincidentally my claim was processed and payment received on the same day that I received your first reply.

Thank you for your help on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Raven

Child Benefit Office, HM Revenue and Customs

Thank you for getting in touch with the Child Benefit Office.

Our email service is temporarily unavailable and your message has not been read by an advisor.

For an alternative service, please visit our website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/cont...

show quoted sections

Dear Yvonne Aubrey,

Thank you for your reply.

I still find it incredible that you do not monitor time outstanding directly. Surely it would make it easier to target outstanding cases? For example it would enable you to assign one group of staff to clear the backlog while another group try to stay up to date with new cases. It would be a relatively simple SQL statement to extract the data. Of course, having the full data might affect your average processing times

Incidentally, while you might not have been able to comment on my specific case, but entirely coincidentally my claim was processed and payment received on the same day that I received your first reply.

Thank you for your help on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Raven

John Cross left an annotation ()

blog post about unavailability of Child Benefit email service:

http://confirm-or-deny.blogspot.com/2009...

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