asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he has taken to introduce a written notice of assessment for supplementary benefit claimants showing how the benefit is calculated or why it is refused; and what estimate he makes of the staff and cost needed for such a scheme.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 15 December 1978; Vol. 965, c. 450–1], gave the following information:Written explanations of assessment are already issued to claimants on request and their attention is drawn to this in notices issued to them. Claimants are told in general terms why benefit is refused and advised on their appeal rights. The automatic issue of written notices of assessment has been considered in the past but they have not been introduced, primarily because of the high manpower cost. Recent studies suggest however that a notice produced by carbon copy from a working document is feasible at a much more economical cost—of some 50–70 staff—and the possibility is therefore being reconsidered. Work is well advanced on the design of a suitable notice, but any increase in staff costs has to be considered carefully in relation to other competing claims for priority.