asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many persons in the Carlisle area entitled to receive sick pay in the last three weeks have not received any payment for that period; and if he will make a statement.
The Department's Carlisle local office receives rather over 300 sickness benefit claims each week and ordinarily four-fifths of these are cleared within four days. Over Easter the link between the local office and the records computer at Newcastle upon Tyne failed, and this resulted in delays in deciding entitlement to claims. I regret it is not possible to say exactly to how many or for how long. I apologise to the hon. Member's constituents for the temporary decline in the standards of service.