Letter: Pros and cons of DSS computers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tim Kelsey's article sadly held no surprise for me. For two years, I have worked on the Income Support section of a DSS office, using the Operational Strategy computer system. My initial training was thorough, but there was no follow-up. Benefit rules are changing all the time; circulars are constantly passed from door to door, but we can ill afford the time to read and digest their contents.

A case in point is that of Mortgage Interest Direct, whereby the DSS pays the mortgage interest of its home-owning customers directly to their bank or building society. Our training for this amounted to 10 minutes each. Two years later, massive overpayments were discovered. Consequently, every case had to be scrutinised and corrected - at a cost of thousands.

When I talk to colleagues of pre-computer days, they hanker after those times. Apparently there existed a more convivial environment, more staff, far fewer mistakes and less bad press.

Yours faithfully,

MARY SOUTH

Skegness, Lincolnshire

12 September

The writer is using a pseudonym.

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