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Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: Correspondence

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 56159, tabled on 15 October 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking to improve her Department's response times to correspondence from members of the public.

Answered on

25 October 2021

The Government recognises the importance of responding to members of the public in an effective and timely manner, and the Cabinet Office published an updated Guide to Handling Correspondence for government departments and agencies in July 2021. The guidance reasserts the standards for handling correspondence, including a 20 working day deadline for departments to respond to members of the public, criteria outlining when a response to a member of the public is required, and when a piece of correspondence from a member of the public should be transferred to another department. Following publication of the updated guidance, all departments have been reminded that they must follow the processes outlined in the guidance.

In 2020 the FCDO received 43% more correspondence (former FCO and former DFID combined) from members of the public compared to 2019. The FCDO is now recruiting additional employees to help manage the increased volume of public correspondence in the central correspondence team, investigating how to make better use of technology, including automation, in managing all correspondence and actively monitoring performance across the FCDO to drive up the timeliness of answers to the 20 day deadline.