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Departmental Service

Volume 175: debated on Monday 2 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how his Department is planning to improve its service to the public.

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. Nevertheless, there is still room for further improvement, particularly in inner London. This is being tackled by relocating work which requires no face-to-face contact away from 21 London offices to areas where recruitment and retention of staff is easier. There is already substantial evidence that significant improvements in accuracy, clearance times and quality of service are being made.By 1991 the major programme underway to computerise social security operations will bring major improvements in service standards to all local offices. It produces faster and more accurate payments and decisions, and provides fast access to information needed to deal with queries.In 1991, the new agency to administer the benefit systems will be established, having as one of its principal aims a high quality service for customers.