To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what improvements have occurred recently in the quality of service to claimants of income support; and if he will make a statement.
Since the Government reforms were introduced in 1988, the social security system has become simpler for claimants to understand and easier for staff to operate. There have been very real all-round improvements in the standards of service to the public. For example, in 1989–90 the average time taken to clear income support claims improved by 25 per cent. to 4·7 days compared with 1987–88, the last year before the reforms, and error rates fell by 31 per cent. to 7·9 per cent.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the level of income support will be for youth training participants in this financial year.
Participants in youth training do not normally receive income support. Instead they receive a training allowance which exceeds the income support rates of personal allowance. The minimum value of the lower and higher levels of the youth training allowance are £29·50 for trainees aged 16 and £35 for trainees aged 17.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the latest figure he has for the number of lone parent families in receipt of income support; and how many such families were receiving supplementary benefit five years ago.
The latest published figures are those quoted in my reply to my hon. Friend on 2 April at column 487·