§ Mr. Clelland
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what methods are adopted by assessment officers in his Department to comply with the requirements of paragraph 5(3) of single payments circular S36/85.
§ Mr. Major
It is usually the practice for local offices to make inquiries about the prices at which items of reasonable quality are available at shops in the areas in which their claimants are likely to shop. A list of guide prices based on these enquiries is compiled in accordance with circular S36/85 which offices are advised to keep under regular review: the prices of individual items should be reviewed if at any time it becomes apparent that suitable items are no longer available at the guide price. Adjudication officers are also advised that the guide price should not automatically be used as the maximum for any item and that they should carefully consider reasons put forward by the claimant as to why a higher amount may be appropriate in an individual case.