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National Insurance Regulations

Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will review the regulations governing the payment of national insurance benefits.


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Mrs. Gillian Shephard : These regulations are contained within the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 and are as a matter of course kept under constant and ongoing review.

Local Offices (Illness)

Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what attempts have been made to identify stress-related illnesses suffered by staff in social security offices ; and what is being done to alleviate the problem.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : We have recently changed the system of collecting information on sick absences to provide more detailed analysis of illnesses which could be stress-related. The first analysis will be available in about 12 months time and will give a clearer basis for identifying any problem in this area and for exploring what needs to be done. This Department is also taking part in a long-term study on health and stress being conducted by University college, London, in conjunction with the Civil Service occupational health service.

Carers' Premium

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many carers on income support he estimates will benefit as a result of the new carers' premium announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis), earlier today.

Income Support

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to increase financial provisions for pensioners on income support.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, on 25 October, at columns 841-54.

Turkish Kurds

Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about the arrangements which local offices of his Department have for notifying officials of the Home Department of the addresses at which Turkish Kurds entering the United Kingdom may reside.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Local office staff notify the Home Department of all cases where income support is paid to people from abroad. Full instructions are contained in the income support manual, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Disability Benefits Consortium

Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he next expects to meet representatives of the Disability Benefits Consortium ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security expects to meet representatives of the Disability Benefits Consortium shortly.


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Delivery of Service in the 90s"

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the purpose of his Department's study "Delivery of Service in the 90s" ; who is involved in the exercise ; what consultation will be carried out with staffs and clients ; and when the study will be completed and published.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : "Delivery of Service in the 90s" is the title of a proposed initiative to examine how we might maximise the improvements in service to the public, efficiency and job satisfaction for our staff which will be derived from our computerisation programme--the operational strategy. The initiative comprises a linked set of proposals for action in eight local offices. Staff are being encouraged to contribute ideas towards the proposals.

Consultation with the staff in the offices involved and the trade unions is taking place. It is envisaged that this examination will be completed in the first half of next year. No decision on publication has been taken.

Local Office Network

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what decisions he has made regarding changes to the current local office network.


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Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The local office network is currently being reviewed with the aim of providing a better service to the public. The review will take into account changes arising from the setting up of the benefit agency. Preliminary proposals are unlikely to be available before next spring.

Social Security Costs

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what he estimates will be the increase in social security costs in the next year ; and what is the breakdown of those costs between increases due to costs related to (a) unemployment and (b) other factors.

Mr. Scott : Expenditure on social security will be £55.6 billion in 1990-91, an increase of £3 billion on the estimated outturn for 1989-90, as shown in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement. However, the figure for 1990-91 excludes rent rebates in England and Wales, and the increase on a directly comparable basis is £5.6 billion. Of this increase, £0.2 billion is the result of a small change in the assumed level of unemployment, and £5.4 billion is due to other factors.


 

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