§ Mr. Terry Davis
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why it took more than 10 weeks for the West Midlands regional controller to reply to a query referred to him on 10 June by the manager of the local social security office at St. Margarets Road, Birmingham 8.
§ Mr. Newton:
This query was about a case the circumstances of which were particularly complex and unusual, and had to be referred for advice to the office of the chief supplementary benefit officer. I am sorry for the delay which this caused.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why it took him until 8 September to send his letter PO (PS-SS) 2323 23 regarding Miss Alexander arising from the hon. Member for Newham, North-West's letter of 3 August; what was contained in the communication which could not have been sent earlier; and whether he will take whatever action may prove necessary to deal more expeditiously and efficiently with correspondence.
§ Mr. Newton:
As I explained in my further letter to the hon. Member on 17 September, the principal reason for the fact that it may take some weeks to deal with representations about individual social security cases is the need to obtain a report from the local office and for it then to be studied by headquarters officials. In this case it was 58W also necessary to consult the office of the chief supplementary benefit officer, and there was some additional delay because of people being on holiday.
We are, however, concerned to reply to such queries as quickly as possible, and are currently seeking further ways to keep any delay to a minimum.