HC Deb 08 March 1996 vol 273 cc374-5W
Mrs. Ray Michie

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to review the number of(a) contributions agencies and (b) benefits agencies in Scotland. [17106]

Mr. Roger Evans

The Contributions Agency undertook an extensive analysis of its field operations business in 1993 and a review of the management structure in 1994, to increase efficiency and reduce costs, in line with the Government White Paper, "Continuity and change in the Civil Service".

The recommendations of the reviews were subject to a feasibility study and then an extensive trial period in rural and urban areas during 1995.

The proposed changes to the field operations structure will be implemented over a two to three-year period.

Although the efficiency and running costs of the Contributions Agency are constantly under review, there are no proposals to undertake a further reorganisation.

The Benefits Agency regularly reviews its estate.

Mrs. Michie

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received regarding the number of and access to contributions and benefits agencies. [17107]

Mr. Heald

The Contributions Agency has been in existence since 2 April 1991, details of inquiries made to the Secretary of State about access to, and the number of Contributions Agency offices are not available prior to 1 January 1995. Since 1 January 1995 the Secretary of State has received 17 direct inquiries on this subject; 16 written inquiries from hon. Members and one independent inquiry.

The Benefits Agency could obtain this information only at disproportionate cost.