HC Deb 06 December 1984 vol 69 cc266-7W
Sir Brandon Rhys Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the estimated total costs of administering social security; how many social security staff are employed by his Department; what are the estimated savings in staff and administrative costs as a result of computerisation; how long it will be before computerisation is complete; and what is the estimated cost of the whole computerisation programme.

Mr. Whitney

The estimated annual cost of administering the social security programme—including unemployment benefit which is administered by the Department of Employment on behalf of the Department—is some £1.5 billion for 1983–84. The number of staff engaged in the work is about 106,000, including about 28,000 in the Department of Employment.

Our plans for the application of new technology to social security were set out in the consultative document "Social Security Operational Strategy — A Framework for the Future", published in 1982. The operational strategy is not a single project but a technical arid managerial framework within which new projects will be developed and existing systems maintained and updated in the light of advances in technology. The consultative document estimated total costs over a 20-year period of some £700 million, with cumulative net savings in staff and administrative costs of some £1,200 million. It is not envisaged however that the strategy will be fully implemented until the middle of the next decade and these figures must therefore be regarded as very broad estimates.