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Benefits

Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many lone parents in receipt of supplementary benefit are (a) householders and (b) non-householders; and in (a) how many have an eldest child aged five to 10 years and in (b) how many have an eldest child aged under 10 years.

As at December 1981, there were 331,000 single parent claimants who were householders, and of these 101,000 had an eldest child aged 5–10. At the same date there were 60,000 single parent claimants who were members of other persons' households and of these 52,000 had an eldest child aged under 10.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to end the situation whereby benefit paid for the first 12 weeks of unemployment may be deducted from any sums subsequently paid from the redundancy fund whilst still counting against the maximum number of weeks' entitlement to unemployment benefit.

Unemployment benefit is not payable for any period for which a person receives a payment in lieu of notice, whether that payment is made by the employer or comes from the redundancy fund because the employer is insolvent. Where unemployment benefit has already been paid for the period in question, the payment from the Bell fund is reduced by the amount of the benefit. However, this procedure does not lead to reimbursement of the national insurance fund and the benefit already paid must therefore count against the person's cumulative entitlement to benefit. I appreciate that this situation causes some confusion for claimants and we are studying the relevant regulations to look for solutions to this and other problems that have arisen in this connection.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for males and females, respectively, the estimated cost in 1983–84 of providing unemployment benefit indefinitely to those who are unemployed and able and willing to work, together with an estimate of the number of persons who would then register in the absence of any restriction as regards eligibility.

The estimated gross cost in 1982–83 of paying unemployment benefit to persons whose benefit is exhausted and to persons currently disqualified because their contribution record is inadequate is about £1,800 million for men and £600 million for women. An estimate for 1983–84 could be provided only at disproportionate cost. It is not possible to estimate how many additional claims to unemployment benefit would be made, given the absence of contribution conditions.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the saving in supplementary and other benefits in terms of 1982–83 rates if those without work, but able and willing to work, were able to draw unemployment benefit as of right; and how many persons would be affected.

The saving on supplementary benefit in 1982–83 would be about £1·8 billion and the numbers affected about 1·3 million. As a consequence of the supplementary benefit saving there might be some increased expenditure on rent and rate rebates and allowances.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the saving in supplementary and other benefits if the 5 per cent. cut in unemployment benefit were to be restored.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many families would become ineligible for other benefit if child benefit were raised to the rate paid for the children of claimants drawing the higher rate of national insurance benefit; and what would be the gross and net cost of such a change.

[pursuant to his reply, 23 November 1982, c. 443]: If child benefit were increased to £7·95 a week, that is to the equivalent of the child dependency addition to long-term national insurance benefits, between 5,000 and 6,000 claimants would cease to be entitled to supplementary benefit. The gross cost would be about £1,400 million and the net cost about £1,140 million in a full year. These figures assume that the increase would count against child dependency additions to national insurance benefits. There would be no effect on the numbers of people claiming family income supplement unless the prescribed amounts were changed to reflect the increase in child benefit. Information as to the effect on housing benefit is not, at present, available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will publish for the latest convenient period the total amount paid by his Department's Nuneaton office in supplementary and other benefits.

The information requested could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the estimated annual cost of providing the long-term supplementary benefit rate to people unemployed for over one year; and what would be the cost if the long-term benefit were restricted to unemployed people with dependent children.