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Supplementary Benefit Payments (Scotland)

Volume 828: debated on Tuesday 21 December 1971

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many persons at present unemployed in Scotland are in receipt of supplementary benefit, and what was the corresponding figure in June, 1970.

In November, 1971, 68,000 wholly unemployed persons were receiving supplementary benefit in Scotland. This compares with 39,000 in June, 1970.

Is the hon. Member aware that, contrary to what one of his hon. Friends said, a prolonged rate of high unemployment is bound to create a greater number of long-term unemployed? Would he not agree that the 312 days' period for unemployment benefit should be greatly extended? Would he not agree that being unemployed is bad enough but that having to rely on supplementary benefit after one year is degrading and unjust?

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point, but unemployment benefit within the National Insurance Scheme is largely intended for comparatively short periods—up to one year in the case of the present arrangements. We feel, as indeed did previous Governments, that further periods over and above that are best dealt with through supplementary benefit arrangements.

Would the hon. Gentleman at least agree to review the procedure for wage stop under which disabled people have their incomes reduced on the grounds that they are capable of light work, which they find it almost impossible to obtain?

I will gladly look at that point. But the vast majority of people on benefit have gained, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the introduction of the family income supplement.