To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, what steps he is taking to help ensure that IPSA has sufficient resources to extend its working hours so that (a) telephone calls can be answered during the hours the House sits and (b) responses can be given to emails from MPs within three to five working days.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
20 June 2019
IPSA’s December 2018 user survey found that 68 per cent of MPs and their staff were satisfied with the support that they receive from IPSA on the phone, up from 53 per cent in 2017. Since the introduction of its new online finance and expenses system in April 2019, IPSA has experienced a higher-than-normal volume of calls, with some calls taking up to 45 minutes as MPs and their staff familiarise themselves with the new system. To respond to this increased demand, IPSA has recruited five temporary staff to answer the phone to MPs, and has temporarily closed its phone lines at 4pm in order to respond to the queries raised. IPSA expects to re-open its phone lines until 5pm when this demand subsides.
IPSA has a key performance target to respond to 90 per cent of emails within five days. In 2018-19, IPSA responded to over 85 per cent of the 54,500 letters and emails that were received within five working days of receipt. In April 2019, following the introduction on the new system, IPSA only replied to 70 per cent of emails within this target. The additional temporary staff will also address this increased demand.
IPSA’s performance is monitored by the Speaker’s Committee for the IPSA which approves IPSA’s budget and targets, including how it responds to MPs’ queries.