asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, pursuant to the answer of 17 June, Official Report, column 40, he will give details of the numbers of staff employed in administration of death grant, the cost of accommodation, the cost of postage and the cost of post office encashment charges in those years on which the calculation of costs was based in 1982 and 1985, respectively.
The costs of administering individual benefits are derived by apportioning total administrative costs in accordance with sample surveys of the amount of staff time devoted to particular activities. The results inevitably have a high degree of statistical uncertainty for the smaller benefits, and it would not be meaningful to break them down into individual categories of expenditure. As explained in my reply to the hon. Member on 17 June, at column 40, the overall costs of salaries, accommodation and encashment charges increased over the period, due in part to changes in the basis on which these costs are attributed to Departments; at the same time, later sample surveys suggested a greater proportion of staff time spent on death grant work. Neither of the figures referred to in my previous reply were intended to give more than a broad indication of costs.