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Benefits Agency Freeline

Volume 281: debated on Tuesday 16 July 1996

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received from the Disablement Income Group in regard to the planned closure of the Benefits Agency freeline; what reply he is sending; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement. [35516]

This is a matter for Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the right hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Alfred Morris, dated 15 July 1996:

The Secretary of State for social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what representations he has received from the Disablement Income Group in regard to the planned closure of the Benefits Agency Freeline; what reply he is sending; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.
The BA has received two letters from the Disablement Income Group (DIG) concerning the closure of the BA Freeline, one of which was addressed to the Secretary of State for Social Security and passed to me for reply. I have replied to a letter dated 27 June a copy of which is attached. The second letter was received from DIG in Scotland and has been passed to the Director of Operations with responsibility for Scotland, Mr John Lutton for reply.
The Benefit Enquiry Line for people with disabilities is not affected by the decision to close Freeline. The BA recognises that people with disabilities have special needs and may have difficulties contacting their local office.
The closure of Freeline will allow resources to be refocused so that the customer is in touch with the staff who administer their claims or who can directly link the benefits available with the specific personal details of the customer.
I hope you find this reply helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the future of the DSS freeline service. [37407]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Milton Keynes, North-East (Mr. Butler) on 21 June, Official Report, column 629.