§ Mr. Leighton
asked the Paymaster General how many of the 1,500 new staff needed to conduct the new availability for work test are in place.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I announced on 28 October that the additional staff required for the new procedure is 1,400. They are being introduced progressively over the next few months. Staff are recruited to meet the needs of new tasks and normal turnover and it is not possible to say how many currently in post relate to availability testing which is part of ordinary benefit assessment work rather than a separate function. However the number of offices who have introduced the new procedures was 386 at 21 November.