§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what funds have been(a) made available and (b) expended on maintaining the out-of-hours service since the completion of the consultation exercise; and when he plans to announce a decision on the service. 
§ Mr. Roger Evans
This is a matter for Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Peter Thurnham, dated 30 October 1996:The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what funds have been (a) made available and (b) expended on maintaining the Out of Hours Service (OOHS) since the completion of the consultation exercise; and when he plans to announce a decision on the service.The consultation stage of the review of the OOHS took place during August 1996. The total budget allocated to budget holders for the administration of the OOHS for the financial year 1996/97 is £1.834m, of which £1m was issued on 10 October to enable managers to continue the service pending the results of the review.The amount expended on maintaining the Out of Hours Service during this financial year is not separately identified by all budget holders and could only by obtained at a disproportionate cost.248WThe review of the OOHS is currently under way and as part of this review, the Benefits Agency has sought the views of all interested parties including social services. Those views will be taken into account in reaching the final decision. No decisions have yet been made about the OOHS. I am unable to confirm when an announcement will be made though it is hoped this will be before the end of the year.I hope you find this reply helpful.