To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if Her Majesty's Government will take steps to ensure that any British citizens or overseas nationals, settled in the United Kingdom, who visit Pakistan for urgent family reasons arising from the recent explosion disaster in Pakistan are not penalised on their return under the provisions of the new social security regulations, relating to the effect on benefit entitlements of time spent outside the United Kingdom.
The new Income Support (General) Regulations 1987 and the Income Support (General) Amendment Regulations 1988 carry forward into income support the former rules for the payment of supplementary pensions and allowances during absences abroad. Under these rules certain people who are not required to be available for work for income support purposes and who temporarily go abroad remain entitled to income support for the first four weeks of absence. If the absence abroad results in a break in entitlement, that break will lead to the immediate loss of any transitional addition of less than £10, and to the loss, after eight weeks, of transitional additions of £10 or more. In the case of certain unemployed couples, breaks in entitlement of eight weeks or more will lead to the loss of the higher (£15) earnings disregard.If a husband and wife go abroad and the wife is widowed while in Pakistan she will be entitled to widow's payment if she returns to the United Kingdom within four weeks of her husband's death.We have no plans to change these rules.