§ Mrs. Chalker
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many staff in local offices have been trained to answer queries about the working of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975; what proportion of them are already in post; what number of inquiries they are receiving weekly; and what proportion of these have to be referred to senior staff for satisfactory answers to be given to inquirers.
§ Mr. Deakins
There are at present 6,500 staff in local offices who deal with pensions, and this number will be increased by nearly 800 during the six months to April 1979 when pensions under the Social Security Pensions Act 1975 will begin to be paid. Written instructions have been issued at appropriate times since January 1976 but mostly over the past year, background information for staff has also been given by audio-visual methods, and speakers' kits and briefing packs issued to enable talks to be given to local bodies. A new pensions liaison officer was appointed in each region in October 1977 and these officers have, among other tasks, organised short seminars which have so far been given to 1,400 managing and supervisory staff in local offices. This work will continue.
Records are not kept of the number of inquiries received specially relating to the provisions of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975, nor of the involvement of senior staff in answering them, but the information sent out has been comprehensive and the liaison officers can assist local office staff with further advice if necessary.