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Social Security Commissioners

Volume 174: debated on Monday 18 June 1990

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To ask the Attorney-General what steps have been taken to reduce delays in deciding appeals to the social security commissioners and in notifying claimants of commissioners' decisions and what effect those steps have had or are expected to have on the average length of such delays.

The following steps have been taken within the last month by the Lord Chancellor's Department and local management of the office of social security commissioners (OSSC):

  • (a) The Department is recruiting an additional legally qualified Nominated Officer to assist the Commissioners;
  • (b) A 'fast-stream' system has been introduced to expedite appeals where both parties agree the lower tribunal erred in law. At present up to 20 cases a week of this sort are being dealt with out of the usual chronological order;
  • (c) Agency typists and word processor operators are now used to cover for sick and annual leave by full-time staff;
  • (d) Two new word processors have been installed. A new photocopier will be installed shortly which will significantly reduce the time taken to photocopy case papers and Commissioners' decisions;
  • (e) Tighter targets have been set for the typing of work, including Commissioners' decisions, to reduce delays; and
  • (f) Office systems at OSSC's London headquarters have been reviewed and simplified to increase effectiveness and management control. Some sections have been amalgamated.
  • The Department believes that these measures will start to reduce the average length of delays over the next three months, but it is too early to predict the scale of that reduction.