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Unemployment Benefit

Volume 939: debated on Friday 18 November 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list in the Official Report the conditions of entitlement in 1973 and 1977, respectively, to unemployment benefit and associated cash for males and females.

I have been asked to reply.The contribution conditions for unemployment benefit, and other national insurance benefits, changed between 1973 and 1977. In 1973, under the then flat-rate contribution system, the first contribution condition for unemployment benefit required the payment of 26 weekly Class 1 (employed earner) contributions since entry into insurance and the second contribution condition required 50 Class 1 contributions to have been paid or credited in the contribution year preceding the benefit year in which the claim was made for the full rate of benefit to be payable. (A benefit year started five months after the end of a contribution year.) Following the introduction of a wholly earnings-related contribution system under the Social Security Act 1975, the first contribution condition for unemployment benefit now requires the payment of Class 1 contributions amounting to at least 25 times the amount of the contribution payable on the weekly lower earnings limit for the tax year concerned. This limit is £15 for the 1977–78 tax year. The second condition is met in full if, in the relevant tax year, that is, the tax year immediately preceding the calendar year in which the period of interruption of employment began, Class 1 contributions have been paid or credited on earnings of at least 50 times the weekly lower earnings limit for that year.The other main conditions for the receipt of unemployment benefit, namely, that the claimant must be unemployed and capable of, and available for, work, have not changed between 1973 and 1977.In general, the contribution and other conditions apply equally to males and females. However, married women entitled to unemployment benefit on their own contribution records generally qualify for a lower rate of benefit than do men, single women and widows—this lower rate is being abolished in April 1978—and they can receive an increase of benefit for a husband only if he is incapable of self-support.I have no information about other cash benefits associated with unemployment, apart from supplementary benefit about which I understand my hon. Friend is not concerned.