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Volunteer Development Workers (Benefit)

Volume 82: debated on Monday 8 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proposals he has to improve the position of volunteer development workers who find that on return to the United Kingdom they are denied both unemployment benefit and supplementary benefit.

I am pleased to announce that with effect from 6 April 1986 a new special national insurance contribution will be introduced to enable volunteer development workers to earn entitlement to unemployment benefit. This will put right a long standing anomaly in the social security system, and will also enable us to comply with the European Community Council recommendation on social security for volunteer development workers which was adopted in June.We also propose to make a change in the supplementary benefit scheme which will be of particular help to volunteer development workers returning to this country. We have today laid before Parliament the Supplementary Benefit (Resources) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 1985 which, subject to the approval of Parliament, will come into effect in the late summer or early autumn so as to provide that earnings which have been received from full-time work overseas but which, for reasons outside the claimant's control, cannot be remitted to this country shall not be taken into account for supplementary benefit purposes. The effect will be to ensure that such persons will not be excluded from benefit on full-time work grounds by virtue of those earnings when they return to this country.The regulations will also provide for two other beneficial but unrelated changes. Firstly, they will provide for a disregard of the capital value of a life interest or fixed term annuity and, secondly, they will correct an unintended affect of the current regulations concerning the treatment of final earnings received on termination of full-time employment so as to ensure that such earnings are not to be taken into account for any period beyond the period of full-time work exclusion. The Social Security Advisory Committee has agreed that these proposals should not be referred to it.