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Sickness Benefit

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 22 March 1949

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asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, in view of the widespread hardship which is being experienced by large numbers who are unable to follow their employment due to illness and whose financial resources are insufficient to enable them to subsist until they are able to resume their employment, some steps will now be taken to expedite payment of sickness benefit to these people.

The increase in sickness in the last few weeks has led to delays in some places but I am not aware of any foundation for the suggestion that delays are widespread. If the hon. Member has any particular places in mind and will let me know I will have immediate inquiries made.

Is not the Minister aware that there are very large numbers of delays? Is it not a fact that to a large extent this is due to shortage of staff? Is it not possible to utilise the services of some of those who are no longer required in connection with clothes rationing to expedite these matters?

The fact is that in the last few weeks we have had a very substantial increase in sickness claims. This is not uniform all over the country; it is unfortunately confined to some places where we have been having a very stiff time. There are delays but with improvements in our organisation we are hoping that the situation will be remedied.