HL Deb 23 February 1988 vol 493 c1195WA
Baroness Jeger

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What difficulties are being encountered in the staffing of local DHSS offices, what steps they are taking to improve conditions, especially in view of the changes in benefits due to take place in April 1988 and to what extent the number of personnel falls short of the required establishment.

Lord Skelmersdale

The table gives details of the shortfall of staff in post below the planned staffing levels for 1st February 1988. The figures provided indicate the position in the regional and local offices of this department. The department continues to develop initiatives to ease the situation where difficulties are encountered in the recruitment and retention of staff.

The Treasury announced proposals in September 1987 for the introduction of "local pay additions". These have been designed specifically to alleviate problems of recruitment and retention in the areas where they occur. The timescale for implementation will depend upon the progress of consultation with the Civil Service trade unions.

Opportunities for part-time working, job sharing, reinstatement, as well as flexible working hours are already available to staff. A recent report on Working Patterns by Anne Mueller, CB, Second Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office, is currently being discussed within the department. Proposals put forward in this report would offer staff a variety of terms and conditions of employment tailored to suit the needs of the individual employee.

Region Planned staff in Actual no. of Percentage shortfall
post target staff in post of staff
North East 11,085 11,027.5 0.52
Midlands 10,994.5 10,919 0.69
London North 11,409 11,348 0.54
London South 11,484 11,432.5 0.45
Wales and South Western 9,358 9,225 1.42
North West 10,304 10,255.5 0.47
Scotland 8,882 8,807 0.84
Total 73,516.5 73,014.5 0.68