§ Mr. Alton
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many rent offices in England and Wales are proposed for closure as a result of the reorganisation of the rent officer service; what estimates have been made of the extra work load which will fall on citizens' advice bureaux and the advice agencies as a result; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir George Young
Reorganisation of the rent officer service is a continuous process designed to make the best use of currently available resources and to reflect changing work patterns.
Since 1974, 28 rent offices in England have been closed. Plans under consideration could result in about 20 more closures, but decisions have not yet been reached. Citizens' advice bureaux and other advice agencies are supplied at their request with copies of Department of the Environment booklets about rent fixing to assist them in their normal advisory work. Where appropriate, such bodies refer enquirers to the nearest rent office where special arrangements for consultation can be made if necessary.
In some places where a permanent rent office is not justified by local demand, arrangements may be made for a rent officer to attend at a suitable place at fixed hours each week to deal with enquiries. In some cases, local arrangements have been made for a rent officer to attend at the local citizens' advice bureau.
Reorganisation of the rent officer service is not expected to result in any significant increase in the workload of the citizens' advice bureau or other advice agencies.827W
I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales for information about the rent officer service there.