§ Mr. Roger Evans
This is a matter for Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.568W
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Doug Hoyle, dated 23 July 1996:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions asking how much his Department will save annually on the new proposals to close the Out of Hours Service (OOHS) in October and what arrangements are being made for the public for out of hours contact with the Benefits Agency.I recently outlined the BA's plans for the future delivery of social security benefits based on the Benefit Agency vision of "right money to the right person at the right time, every time".The Agency will carry out a wide-ranging review of its activities as part of the Departmental Change Programme. Such a programme of change will cover all fundamental areas of the organisation's business and we are committed to achieve a 25% improvement in our productivity by 1998/99. In the first year it has been necessary to identify efficiencies and economies in excess of £200 million. All efficiencies and economies have been considered alongside the expenditure priorities the Agency has been set.It is against this background that the Agency decided to review the need for the OOHS which provides a service to customers at night and weekends. A decision on its viability is expected later this year and it is not possible to say at this time what savings, if any, might be made.I hope you find this reply helpful.