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Actively Seeking Work Test

Volume 173: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps have been and are being taken to improve liaison between adjudication officers in the Departments of Employment and Social Security in respect of adjudication on actively seeking work; and if he will make a statement on the process of adjudication in both Departments on claimants whose actively seeking work is brought into question, and the benefit sanctions which can be imposed by the staff in each Department before and after adjudication.

Instructions are in place to ensure close liaison between the Department and the employment service. These instructions are kept under review.When a doubt arises as to whether a claimant is actively seeking work unemployment benefit is suspended for the weeks of doubt, usually the two weeks since the claimant was last paid. The case is then referred to an employment service adjudication officer to make a decision on title to unemployment benefit. If only income support is in payment he gives an opinion. If he decides that the claimant did not actively seek work, unemployment benefit will be disallowed. His decision/opinion is passed to the Department of Social Security adjudication officer to help him decide what income support should be paid. This happens for each fortnight during which the claimant fails to fulfil the actively seeking work condition.The Department of Social Security adjudication officer has to decide entitlement to income support, and, if awaiting the employment service adjudication officer's decision/opinion, will assume it to be adverse to the claimant. Income support will then be withdrawn until such time as he satisfies the adjudication officer that he is again actively seeking work. If, in the adjudication officer's opinion, hardship will result, income support reduced by 40 per cent. of the personal allowance element can be paid. If the employment service adjudication officer's subsequent decision/opinion is that the claimant did actively seek work, arrears of benefit can be paid.