HC Deb 10 March 1998 vol 308 c182W
Mrs. Dunwoody

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what progress her Department is making with the introduction of the computerised social security benefits system in post offices; [32003]

(2) what is the target date for all post offices to be connected to the computerised social security system; [32005]

(3) how many post offices she plans to be connected to the computerised social security system in the next 12 months; and how many are currently connected; [32004]

(4) what assessment she has made of the service provided by ICL to introduce the computerised social security system into post offices. [32006]

Mr. Denham

There are currently 205 post offices in the South West and North East of England paying child benefit by payment card as part of a controlled trial of the new benefit Payment Card system.

Current planning assumptions are that all post offices will be automated by the end of 2000.

On current plans the trial will be extended to 305 post offices early in 1999.

The Benefits Agency and Post Office Counters Ltd. routinely monitor the project. The trial underway at the moment forms an important part of the monitoring process and is designed as one of a series of tests to assess the performance of the new systems before they are introduced nationally.