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Volume 116: debated on Tuesday 12 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people are presently in receipt of supplementary benefit in Coventry; what is the total number of people that benefit has to support, namely, claimants plus dependants; what were the comparable figures for 1979; what is the percentage change; and what percentage change has taken place in the number of his Department's staff over the same period.

The city of Coventry is covered by two of the Department's local offices — Coventry (east) and Coventry (west) — but their boundaries are not conterminous.The table shows the numbers of people receiving supplementary benefit from those offices on the latest date for which information is available and on a comparable date in 1979:

15 May 19795 May 1987Increase (per cent.)

Source: 100 per cent. count of cases in action.

I regret that information about the total number of people in Coventry supported by supplementary benefit is not available.

The percentage change in staff allocated to supplementary benefit over the period 1979 to 1987 is as follows:

Per cent.

Coventry (east)+48·4
Coventry (west)+74·1

Direct comparisons between numbers of claimants and staff are misleading as work loads vary considerably by type and duration of claim and the action that has to be taken. All these factors vary over time as a result of legislative, policy and procedural changes. Examples of such changes are the introduction of housing benefit and postal claim forms.