asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the progress made by his Department in establishing closer liaison with local authority social welfare departments in the work of the Department of Health and Social Security throughout the country and in the Northern Region in particular.
The regional social work service of my Department exists in order to maintain two-way contact with local authority social service departments, and one of its regional offices is in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. There is also close and continuing consultation between social service departments and local social security offices about matters of mutual concern.
Is the Minister aware that this is a very welcome development and is very helpful in the areas where it is being practised, carried out and extended? But there is still a need for a greater liaison between the Departments mentioned in the Question and the continuance of this will be of real benefit
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for what he said. I agree that much progress has been made since the social service departments were set up in local authorities and since we set up the new social work service in the Department. But a great deal more can still be done to ensure that we get the two parts of the service locked in closely together.
Is the Minister aware that I agree with all that my hon. Friend says? Millions of people in this country in these days of competition and inflation find it very hard indeed to live. Will the Under-Secretary instruct the district officers in the social security offices, who are very humane, to use even more compassion, because this is needed in the North-West of England? Will he tell them to extend their compassion because this is the only way in which people will get through the winter?
I am most grateful for what the hon. Member said about the compassion and the service that officers of the Department provide. In recent weeks, in particular, they have been working very creditably under great pressure.