Tackling the Complexity of the Benefits System: Thirty-sixth Report of Session 2005-06; Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence

The complexity of the benefit system is a key factor affecting the performance of the Department for Work and Pensions. Although this complexity is often necessary in order to administer the system cost-effectively and protect public funds against abuse, it can also result in high levels of error by staff, confusion for customers and help create a climate where fraud can more easily take place. The Committee's report finds that although the DWP has taken steps to address this problem (for example, in the design of Pension Credit, simplifying claim processes for several benefits and better sharing of information with local authorities), these are rather piecemeal developments and it is difficult to tell whether the system as a whole has become more or less complex as there is currently no objective way of measuring it. Some of the steps taken to simplify processes for customers are a way of managing complexity, rather than eliminating it. Managing complexity requires well-trained staff supported by accessible guidance and assistance and efficient information technology systems, and the DWP should also improve its written communications with customers.

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