asked Her Majesty's Government:What new arrangements are planned for administering the assisted visits scheme for prisoners' relatives; when these arrangements will come into effect; and whether all those relatives in receipt of supplementary benefit who are at present eligible for assisted visits will remain eligible under the new arrangements.
New arrangements are being introduced for the administration of the scheme for assisted visits to prisons by close relatives. A new unit of the Home Office Prison Department will administer the scheme for England and Wales. Because it would he uneconomic to have a separate unit to administer the Scheme for Scotland, the Home Office unit will act as an agent for the Scottish Home and Health Department. For administrative convenience the new arrangements will begin to operate from 1st March 1988 in respect of visits to inmates in Scotland and from 11th April in respect of visits to inmates in Great Britain as a whole. Applications and payments will be handled by post rather than within DHSS local offices as hitherto. In order to take account of forthcoming changes in the social security system, financial eligibility will be based upon entitlement to income support which replaces supplementary benefit, family credit or a low income certificate, but apart from this the principal terms and conditions of the scheme will remain the same.