A new electronic claims system set up for the government’s Jobcentre Plus service is failing to process 40% of claims.
MPs on Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee had been told by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union that two-thirds of claims were not being processed by the system, supplied by EDS.
But Lesley Strathie, chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, told the committee that the situation was now being tackled by asking staff not to double-key information.
She admitted that when the system was first introduced only 22% of Job Seekers Allowance claims were processed electronically, confirming the information released by the PCS.
She said 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.
The whole system is expected to be improved in March, when a new Customer Management System is introduced, Strathie told the committee.
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 misspelling.
Margaret Hodge, the Department for Work and Pensions minister responsible for Jobcentre Plus, said that although staff are often obiged 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.
The government is currently investigating tens of thousands of fraudulent tax credit claims made through its on-line claims site.