asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many widows were disqualified from entitlement to grants for training opportunities scheme courses in the past two years for which figures are available as a result of the overlapping benefits rule; and what would have been the cost of making such grants.
None. I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the eligibility conditions for acceptance for training under the training opportunities scheme are the same for widows as for all adult trainees. Widows are entitled to receive the basic training allowance which is payable to all TOPS trainees plus, if appropriate, children's allowance. However, if a widow is in receipt of a national insurance benefit, this may be affected because of the principle that a double payment of a maintenance allowance may not be made from public funds.The national insurance benefit of a widow without dependants is normally replaced by the more favourable rate of training allowance.A widow who is in receipt of a widowed mother's allowance under the national insurance scheme with additions for children may, if this is more advantageous to her, choose to continue to draw her full widowed mother's allowance, in which case an abated training allowance—currently of £80·5 a week—is payable.