§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the forecast increase in work load at the Blackfriars Benefits Agency office following the proposed closure of the Kennington Benefits Agency office in September; what is the proposed increase in staffing to meet this increased work load; and what studies he has(a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the implications of benefits recipients who used the Kennington Benefits Agency office having to use the Blackfriars office. 84W
§ Mr. Roger Evans
This is an operational matter for Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Simon Hughes, dated 6 March 1997.
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what is the forecast increase in workload at the Blackfriars Benefits Agency (BA) office following the proposed closure of the Kennington BA office in September; what is the proposed increase in staffing to meet this increased workload; and what studies he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the implications of benefits recipients who used the Kennington BA office having to use the Blackfriars office.The BA District of Bankside includes the offices at Kennington Park, Southwark and Thames South. The decision to close the Kennington Park Office has not been made. The proposed closure is part of the Area's Estate Strategy to reduce its accommodation costs by ten per cent during 1997/98 and a further twenty per cent progressively during the following five years.The consultation process started on 3 March and will take approximately six weeks. As an essential part of this process the District will be writing to all local Members of Parliament and interested third parties informing them of the reasons for the proposed closure and requesting their comments. The office will also undertake a customer survey of those customers who currently use the Kennington Park Office to establish their opinions on their business being carried out by alternative means.On average 140 customers visit the Kennington Park Office each day. It is not possible to estimate exactly how many customers would choose to visit Southwark. For general advice customers could go to either Brixton or Battersea BA offices, which are located within a two mile radius. Telephone calls and postal enquiries from customers in the Kennington Park area are dealt with by the Southwark office. It is anticipated that if Kennington Park closes the majority of staff would move with the workload to Southwark.I hope you find this reply helpful.