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Local Offices

Volume 33: debated on Tuesday 30 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many additional social security staff have been employed; and how many new offices have been opened since May 1979.

Between May 1979 and now the number of social security staff allocated to do the work in DHSS local offices has fallen by 1,425. This is the net effect of a wide variety of changes, including a rise in the supplementary benefit workload, a fall in the contributory benefit workload, and a number of legislative and procedural changes such as the partial start of housing benefit. This figure takes account of staff employed on ancillary duties such as messengers and security officers, and staff employed on specialist functions—in legal aid assessment offices, for example.The hon. Member may like to know that I placed in the Library last month a paper explaining more fully the DHSS local offices complementing system.Since May 1979, 13 integrated local offices have been opened, though 17 national insurance offices and 11 area offices—dealing with supplementary benefit claimants—have been closed.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give details of work load and staffing at his Department's office in Swindon for June 1979 and June 1982.

I have recently placed a description of the Department's local office complementing system in the Library of the House. As the hon. Member will see from section 4 of this guide, no simple measure of a local office's workload is available.In June 1982, 169 staff were employed at the Department's office in Swindon. A comparable figure is not available for June 1979, but at that time the number of staff allocated to do the work at Swindon was 167.