Online Archive  
Issue 17 - December 1973
Dept. Of S.S.(Silly Steps)

The Department of Health and Social Security in Milburngate House, Durham has these last few months made things even harder for disabled and elderly claimants who visit the office in pursuit of a claim.

There are, or rather were, two entrances into Milburngate House for claimants but now there’s only one. The back door which can be reached by walking along the riverside, up a few steps and then up a slight gradient is now, and has been for some time, closed to claimants. This is by far the easiest way into the Social security for the disabled and OAP’s.

The front entrance is reached from the main road or by going along the riverside. If you go in from the main road it means going down 11 steps, along a footbridge into the building, then going down 20 more steps befor reaching the Supplementary Benefits office.

Claimants entering from the riverside are faced with climbing 32 steps, up a slight gradient, over the footbridge and as before down 20 steps to reach the office. These steps must be faced again on the way out.

This isn’t any difficulty for those Claimants who are fit and well, but it’s asking a bit too much from disabled persons and OAP’s who may have difficulty in getting around on even a flat surface.

There is of course a lift in the building – for staff use only – and there should be no reason why elderly and disabled Claimants shouldn’t be able to use it. When the Security Guard was asked about this a while back he said he’d had no word from the manager concerning this matter and so he couldn’t allow anyone other than staff use the lift.

The Social Security are aware of the problem and have been for some time, as it was mentioned to them by a member of the Claimants Union, but nothing has been done. The back door remains locked and no notice is to be seen informing OAP’s and disabled persons that they can use the lift.

So how about it Mr. Howson, can they use the lift and/or the back door? This is the Welfare State, isn’t it?