§ Mr. Maclennan
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she plans to maintain the present establishment of Child Support Agency field officers working from Benefits Agency offices in Elgin, Wick and Inverness; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Keith Bradley
The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mrs. Faith Boardman. She will write to the hon. Member.
We expect the Child Support Agency to provide an efficient and effective service to all its clients throughout the child support assessment process. We are looking for substantial and sustained operational improvements from the Agency, in particular on getting more maintenance paid, reducing the backlog and improving customer service.
Letter from Mike Isaac to Mr. Robert Maclennan, dated 19 December 1997:In the absence of Mrs. Boardman, the Chief Executive, I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about Chid Support Agency field officers working within the Benefits Agency offices in Elgin, Wick and Inverness.It may be helpful if I explain some of the background to the current situation.In line with the Government's commitment to modernise service delivery, the Agency has recently conducted a major review of its business to enable it to deliver a service which is more customer focused and more cost effective. Although we are still working on a detailed analysis, it is clear that the size of our field network will significantly reduce over the next three to four years.The staff who continue to work outside the Agency's Centres will be there to offer a much improved face to face service with our customers where necessary. This will not only support the Agency's business but will allow the Agency to operate improved customer service initiatives within our six Centres. The review has also shown that the Agency needs to improve its interface with and be more accessible to customers.The Agency is currently reviewing the precise nature of jobs in our field network to ensure that staff who remain there are used in the most cost effective way. This review will also consider the location of field offices. Business Unit Mangers will be consulting and negotiating with staff on an on-going basis to resolve these issues. As yet no decisions have been taken on the future of the three sites mentioned in your question.I hope this is helpful.