§ Mr. Frank Field
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will announce the introduction of a national housing benefit computer system; and if he will make a statement on the progress of the development of the system. 
§ Mr. Heald
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced in March this year that he was inviting the local authority associations to join in a study of how local authority systems can be linked, to share information with each other and with the new Benefits Agency computer system. In particular, this study would examine the merits320W of introducing a unified computer system covering all local authorities' housing benefit work. This work is in its early stages and a further announcement will be made in due course when the study team has reported its findings.