A new electronic claims system set up for the government’s Jobcentre Plus service is failing to process 40% of claims, MPs heard this week.
Lesley Strathie, chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, admitted that when the system was first introduced only 22% of job seekers allowance claims were processed electronically.
She told the Work and Pensions Committee this figure had now increased to 60%. The committee was told that the Income Support computer system was the worst performing system, processing only 58% of claims electronically.
Strathie said the situation was now being tackled by asking staff not to double-key information. The whole system is expected to be improved in March, when a new customer management system is introduced, she added.
She said the new system will reject a claim if there is any mistake in it, which could include an apostrophe in the wrong place or a misspelled word.
Margaret Hodge, the Department for Work and Pensions minister responsible for Jobcentre Plus, said that although staff are often obliged to process claims manually, the quality of the service was not being affected.
Hodge said the ultimate aim was to encourage more applicants to make their claims over the internet.