Skip to main content


Volume 939: debated on Friday 25 November 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent instructions have been given to officers of his Department on the use of the terms "cohabitation" or "cohabiting" in dealing with the public.

Since these terms have been replaced in the legislation by the phrase "living together as husband and wife", officers are being advised to use the new terms in preference to the old.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether officers of his Department have been instructed that in future when considering prosecution for the improper drawing of social security benefits in cases of a woman and her children allegedly living with a man, but drawing benefits as a single parent, they have to consider that although the woman may indeed be living with the man, if their relationship together might not last more than six months, it can qualify as an "unstable relationship", which need not disqualify the woman from drawing benefits as though living alone.

The Supplementary Benefits Commission considers that the expression "living together as husband and wife" clearly implies more than an occasional or very brief association. Officers are, therefore, instructed to have regard to the stability of the relationship as one of the criteria for deciding whether a couple are living together as husband and wife. The question has, however, to be decided in the light of all the facts of the case, and cannot be reduced to a rule of thumb.