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Benefits Offices

Volume 281: debated on Wednesday 17 July 1996

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list all benefits offices indicating the owner of the freehold, the owner of the lease, and the length of lease, and the annual cost to his Department. [37548]

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows:

Freehold ownership of the Government's civil estate is vested in the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Information regarding the ownership and cost of individual leasehold properties is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The total annual cost to the Department is currently £200.5 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when his Department began its review of the relocation of Highgate and Finsbury Park benefits offices; when the offices were relocated; and what was the cost of the relocation. [37547]

The Department began its review in the mid-1980s. Finsbury Park benefit office moved out of Archway tower in November 1992 and Highgate benefit office moved out in March 1995. The estimated cost of the total relocation project was £216 million, which resulted in net estimated savings of £43 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when a lease was first taken out on Archway tower, London N19, by his Department, what was its length; what has been the total payment to date; and what are the projected future payments on this building. [37546]

The property was acquired in 1974. Historic costs are not readily available because of variations in rent. rates and other costs over the term of the lease. Current holding costs are around £1 million per annum and the lease expires in 2009.