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Family Credit

Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give the reasons on which he based the decision to withdraw family credit from those whose weekly hours spread over 52 weeks fall below 24 hours, but who have previously been awarded both family income supplement and family credit on the basis of working more than 24 hours a week during school terms.

Decisions on individual claims for family credit are the responsibility of the independent adjudicating authorities who are required to make their decisions in accordance with the legislation. One of the conditions for the award of family credit detailed in the legislation is that the claimant or her partner must be working, on average, not less than 24 hours a week. The legislation provides that, where the number of hours for which a person works fluctuates according to a recognisable cycle, the average number of hours shall be determined by reference to the average worked over the period of one complete cycle. Some adjudicating authorities have interpreted the legislation as providing that, in certain claims from school workers, the number of hours worked should be determined according to the average over 52 weeks. Where the adjudicating authorities determine that neither the claimant nor her partner works on average for 24 hours or more, the family would not therefore qualify for family credit but would not be debarred by the number of hours worked from receiving income support.