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Social Fund

Volume 129: debated on Wednesday 9 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement outlining the staffing arrangements for the social fund, indicating the numbers and grades or titles of officers at each social security office, with an outline of their respective roles.

[holding answer 8 March 1988]: The arrangements are currently being finalised but broadly speaking, staff engaged on single payments work will be allocated to social fund work from April 1988. Work to determine the mix of grades and the distribution of these staff to each social security office is under way. Job descriptions have been agreed with the departmental trade union side but further discussions are needed on the specific grades and numbers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will describe the procedures for appealing or requesting a review of a decision by a social fund officer; what provisions have now been made for such procedures; and what requirements, rights or other factors must be considered in reviewing a decision by a social fund officer.

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[holding answer 8 March 1988]: The procedure for making applications for review of determinations by social fund officers is set out in the Social Fund (Application for Review) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1988 (SR1988 No. 20) which comes into operation on I 1 April 1988. Briefly, the application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision having been issued and the reason for the application must be stated.Applications for review will be considered within the social security office by the social fund officer who made the original decision and by a senior officer. If the applicant remains dissatisfied the decision will be reviewed by a social fund inspector who will operate independently from the social security office.In reviewing a decision a social fund officer must have full regard to all the circumstances which existed at the time of the original decision together with any new evidence or relevant change of circumstances.