§ Mr. Prior
There are currently about 21,000 staff working in the unemployment benefit service. The ratio of staff to claimants was 1 to 85 in 1979–80 compared with 1 to 55 in 1973–74. This improvement arises mainly from computerisation and the introduction of fortnightly signing. If the ratio of staff to claimants had remained at the 1973–74 level, the number of staff in the unemployment benefit service would, at the current levels of unemployment, be over 30,000 rather than 21,000.
This indicates the considerable advances which have been made in increasing the efficient operation of the service, and I am grateful to the staff for their continuing efforts at a time of high unemployment to ensure that benefits are paid to claimants efficiently and on time.