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Improving communication with customers by the Department for Work and Pensions

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Changes in communication about social security benefits have helped the Department for Work and Pensions provide a more responsive service to customers finds a new report, published today by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO commissioned a study team led by Professor Patrick Dunleavy| from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Professor Helen Margetts from the University of Oxford, Oxford Internet Institute to work with them on the report, Communicating with Customers.

The report looks at the information exchanges between citizens and the Department that underpin applications for social security benefits and finds that the Department has placed a reducing emphasis on issuing leaflets and had a significant growth in telephone enquiries and in online information provision about benefits on the internet.

The report finds that the Department has significantly changed the way in which it provides information in recent years although there is still progress to be made in moving services online. Some forms are still unnecessarily long and guidance notes are complicated and the Department's computer generated letters are overly long and confusing for customers.

Professor Patrick Dunleavy, chair of LSE's Public Policy Group, said: 'This new report also shows that recently there has been a strong take-up of DWP's online facilities for claiming JobSeekers' Allowance, and that the Department is now moving rapidly to begin communicating with more of its customers online.'

To access the full report, see:
http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0809/communicating_with_customers.aspx| 

Ends

Notes for editors

The National Audit Office study team consisted of: David Raraty and David Dorrell, working with a team from the London School of Economics and Political Science led by Professor Patrick Dunleavy, of Sofi a Goldchluk, Mohamed Khalid Khan, Jane Tinkler and Ed Towers, and the University of Oxford, Oxford Internet Institute led by Professor Helen Margetts, of Tobias Escher and Stephane Reissfelder, under the direction of Liane Hinds.

Press cuttings

Press Association
Online form saves £9m a year
(7 May) 

Daily Mirror
Claim forms for benefits confusing says watchdog (7 May)
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2009/05/07/claim-forms-for-benefits-confusing-115875-21338347/|

7 May 2009

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