HC Deb 29 November 1999 vol 340 cc18-20
16. Mr. Hilary Benn (Leeds, Central)

If he will make a statement on steps his Department is taking to improve customer service in the social security system. [99078]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Angela Eagle)

The Department is considering how to ease the transition from benefits to work as part of customer services improvements and to improve the administration of benefits to remove barriers to work. Among other things, we are looking at linking rules and run-ons, such as the two-week run-on for lone parents who are on income support and jobseeker's allowance that was recently put into effect and the 12-month linking rule for those on the new deal for disabled people.

Mr. Benn

I thank my hon. Friend for her answer. Does she agree that as well as addressing the poverty trap we need to continue to address the process trap, by which I mean the problems that claimants can experience in moving off benefit and into work and back again, which act as an obstacle to seeking a job?

Angela Eagle

I cannot agree more with my hon. Friend's comments, and I assure him that we are focusing on the path leading from benefits back into work and on what happens when people take part-time or temporary jobs. That is why the new ONE pilots include a better-off calculation to reassure people about whether they will be better off in work. We are considering redesigning the system to ensure that if a job does not work out, people can get back on to benefits with the minimum hassle.