HC Deb 19 June 1995 vol 262 cc17-8
26. Mr. Mackinlay

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security by what machinery or method he obtains the views of recipients of social security benefits; and if he will make a statement. [27626]

Mr. Hague

The Benefits Agency commissions an annual national customer survey, carried out by an independent external research contractor, to examine customer opinion of the service that it provides. The overall satisfaction rating for the 1994 survey was 83 per cent.

In addition, all BA districts carry out local customer surveys, which focus on the difficulties encountered by customers. BA also holds a series of biannual meetings to provide organisations with an opportunity to discuss issues of concern to customers. The surveys are in accordance with citizens charter principles and the BA customer charter.

Mr. Mackinlay

Is the Minister aware that pensioners will not consider an independent research company a proper way of sounding out individual views and frustrations, bearing in mind that married couples are losing some £20 a week due to the Government's meddling with the system of uprating pensions? Is it not time that the Government listened to pensioners, who feel frustrated by the level of their pensions and their lack of mobility on public transport? On the 50th anniversary of voting for a Labour Government and a welfare state, they see the great prize for which they fought and for which they voted in 1945 being eroded by the Government.

Mr. Hague

Pensioners are included in the survey to which I referred, but in recent years they have benefited from the uprating of the pension in line with prices, the increased resources being given to the less well-off and oldest pensioners and the low inflation that the Government have delivered, in stark contrast to their predecessor.