§ Mr. Tilley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many claimants of the Kennington supplementary benefit office are now receiving no income at all because of the industrial dispute over staffing cuts; and how many more will be without income before Christmas as their payment books expire.
§ Mr. Prentice
It is not possible to say how many claimants have no income at all. This is because the initial claim form does not require information as to whether the claimant has any means. The extent of his means are established subsequently. Therefore, we do not know the income of claimants in respect of whom we have only an initial claim. Where the initial claim indicates urgent need, wherever possible it is cleared. Further, we do not know how many claimants have been unable to lodge their claims because the office is closed to the public. Beneficiaries already receiving regular weekly payments are not badly affected; their payment order books are still being renewed before expiry.