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Prisoners’ Discharge Grants

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 24 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department spent on subsistence payments to offenders on end of custody licence in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. (317125)

The available information on the subsistence payments to offenders on end of custody licence in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10 is as follows:

1 July to 31 March 2007-08


1 April to 30 September 2009-10

Paid by DWP on behalf of the National Offender Management Service




Paid direct by prison establishments



Prisoners released on End of Custody Licence, ECL, are paid subsistence in place of benefits. This subsistence payment is necessary to ensure that during their period of ECL they are able to purchase food and meet essential living expenses. Sentenced prisoners known to have over £500 in personal funds do not receive any subsistence payments.

When the ECL scheme was first introduced, offenders released for the maximum of 18 days received their subsistence payments in instalments through the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), which made payments on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Prisoners released for less than 18 days were paid in full by prisons on release. From 23 June 2008, payment in instalments by DWP was extended to prisoners spending 15 days or more on ECL. From 15 December 2008, payment in instalments by DWP was further extended to offenders spending eight days or more on ECL. The advantage of the system of payments through DWP is that prisoners receive their subsistence in instalments rather than in a single lump sum.

It is not possible to break down the amount paid directly by prison establishments between 2007-08 and 2008-09. The available information has been collected manually from all prison establishments and may be subject to a margin of error. In addition, figures for payments by prisons in January-March 2009 cannot be identified and an estimated element has been included for these.