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Arcola Street Office, Hackney

Volume 181: debated on Monday 19 November 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he next plans to visit Arcola street social security office

My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so, but my noble Friend Lord Henley visited the office on 9 November 1990

Is the Minister aware that if he visited our Hackney social security offices he would see how London claimants continue to receive one of the worst services in the country and how Hackney residents suffer under his Poor Law regime? I draw to his attention the case of Mrs. S. Moore of 156 Evelyn Court, Amhurst road, London E8, who is disabled but was refused a grant for a pair of shoes because they were deemed to be of low priority. What sort of social security regime refuses disabled people money for shoes?

In general, I believe that those within the area of that local office are served well by the staff there. The hon. Lady will not expect me to comment on an individual case that she presents to me across the Floor of the House. The performance targets are being met. I know that the hon. Lady has a harmonious relationship with the management of that office and that the people there do their best to meet the points that she puts to them

There is an Arcola element in my question, Mr. Speaker. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that all benefit claimants at Arcola street and other social security offices will benefit from the work carried out in my constituency by the Information Technology Services Agency, which has been working on a £1·8 billion project to computerise the social security system and thus improve benefits for claimants?

I am sure that Arcola street, where computerisation for the pensions system will come on stream next February and for income support next April, will benefit from the efforts that we have put into operational strategy as a whole.