HC Deb 07 March 1986 vol 93 cc321-2W
Mr. Lewis Stevens

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement about staffing levels in his Department.

Mr. Fowler

A full review of the local office complement is currently in progress, and its results will be known about the end of the year. I am also arranging for an urgent review of social security tasks to be carried out to identify any further scope for reducing work load. The results of these two reviews will be taken into account in deciding the manpower requirements of the social security organisation after April 1987.

Meanwhile, to relieve present pressures and permit the new work which will be required in 1986–87 to prepare for two upratings, in July 1986 and April 1987, the manpower target for my Department as a whole at 1 April 1986 will be increased by 2,300, to 93,400; some 2,000 extra staff already in post in the local offices are being retained and a further 3,350 posts will be added during the following financial year to produce a new manpower target of 96,750 for 1 April 1987. For local offices, taking the two years together, the new targets will allow for an increase above complement of over 5,000 new staff. The provision includes an additional 500 staff for the extra effort against fraud which I undertook to initiate in the debate on the Address on 11 November last at columns 323–24. I should like to pay tribute to the efforts made by the staff and management of our offices, particularly those in inner cities, to maintain services to the public.