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Unemployed Students

Volume 929: debated on Tuesday 5 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the social security arrangements for unemployed students.

I am satisfied that unemployed students will be able to claim supplementary benefit in the vacations, if their resources fall short of their requirements. As regards unemployment benefit, the Government have announced their intention of making regulations to remove the entitlement of students to unemployment benefit in the short vacations.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the difficulties that have been caused by the change in the supplementary benefit rules for students midway through the Easter vacation?

I am well aware that there have been some difficulties, but they were caused by a decision of the Court of Appeal, which reversed the long-standing operation of the Supplementary Benefits Scheme. This is a temporary difficulty, which will be overcome as a result of regulations which came into effect on 1st April.

When does the Minister intend to change the regulations affecting claims for unemployment pay in short vacations? How many mature students does he estimate have paid-up contribution records entitling them to claim? If he has not liaised with the Department of Education and Science, is there not a great risk that many mature students will now not go into higher education, as the money is an important topping-up of their living grant?

The regulations have to go to the National Insurance Advisory Committee, and then they will be made and laid before the House. We hope to bring them into operation from the start of the Christmas vacation this year. We are in close touch with the Department of Education and Science. The points that the hon. Gentleman has made will naturally emerge when the House debates the regulations in due course.