HC Deb 04 December 1967 vol 755 c942
44. Mr. Hunt

asked the Minister of Social Security what instructions have been issued to local social security advisory committees regarding the interviewing of applicants for supplementary assistance.

Mr. Loughlin

None, Sir. There is, however, a departure from the National Assistance practice under which certain applicants were interviewed by subcommittees. Claimants are now able to discuss their problems on a personal basis with an individual committee member rather than to be interviewed by subcommittees. This is more in accord with the spirit of the 1966 Act.

Mr. Hunt

Is the Minister aware that some members of the Bromley and Bexley Committee are under the impression that interviewing is being actively discouraged? Would he not agree that public confidence in the administration of social security would be seriously undermined if members of these local committees were not able, as a subcommittee, to fulfil a watchdog rôle with regard to the granting of supplementary assistance?

Mr. Loughlin

I am not prepared to agree that we will even look at the possibility of a return to sub-committee interviewing. This very often created a situation in which the applicant was under some embarrassment. If the hon. Member has a particular case in which the new system of an individual member of the committee interviewing applicants is not working properly, I will be very glad to look into it and see what can be done about it.

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