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Prisoners: Unemployment

Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was paid as unemployment pay to prisoners in each prison in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (244040)

Prisoners are eligible for unemployment pay if they are willing to work, but the establishment cannot find suitable employment or the prisoner is unable to work. All prisoners who participate in purposeful activity must be paid. Those who refuse must not receive any pay.

The Prison Service accounting system does not capture expenditure on prisoners’ pay to level of detail required to answer the question fully. The Prison Service sets a minimum unemployed rate of £2.50 a week. However, Governors have devolved authority to set rates of pay for their establishment and these will reflect the particular regime activities. The total amount paid to prisoners as earnings in each of the last three years is as follows:

£

2007-08

32,617,477

2006-07

31,287,813

2005-06

29,614,080

The Service is unable to sub-divide these totals any further without a full survey of all 138 public sector prisons which could be carried out only at a disproportionate cost.