asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, further to the reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth, Official Report, 18 February, column 197, in view of the absence of statistics for the number of persons affected, on what basis the decision was taken to alter the conditions of entitlement to supplementary benefit for individuals undertaking a course of study for less than 21 hours per week; and what savings as a result of this decision he expects.
The revised guidance on the interpretation of regulation 7 of the Supplementary Benefit (Conditions of Entitlement) Regulations 1981, to which the hon. Member refers, is being issued by the Chief Supplementary Benefits Officer, who is independent of my right hon. Friend. I understand that the revised guidance reflects legal advice and is intended to bring the way supplementary benefit officers in local offices interpret the regulation into line with the general intention of the former Supplementary Benefits Commission, on whose policy the regulation is based. I also understand that public expenditure considerations played no part in his decision to issue revised guidance, and no estimate of the public expenditure effect of the change is available. The detailed provisions of the regulation are at present under review.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether families in receipt of supplementary benefit are liable to lose a portion of their benefit if a member of the family begins to receive educational maintenance allowance.
Education maintenance allowances are taken into account in calculating entitlement to supplementary benefit, subject to a disregard of up to £7·50 a week for allowances received for pupils attending school and up to £9·50 a week for pupils attending further education establishments.