HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc911-2
3. Mr. Fortescue

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people have had their supplementary benefit allowance curtailed as a result of the more rigorous checks on young people applying for social security benefits announced on 25th July, 1968.

The Minister of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Mr. Stephen Swingler)

Between 1,800 and 1,900 decisions to issue a short-term allowance from the outset of a claim are made each week. In addition, about 200 claimants who have already received allowances for three months have the period of any further payment limited to four weeks.

Mr. Fortescue

Will the Minister confirm that the physically and psychologically unfit are not being harshly treated under this new policy? Does the Minister agree that for a young, fit, single man without family responsibilities, supplementary benefits should be curtailed not merely if there is suitable employment in his locality, but if such employment is available at any distance up to, say, 100 miles?

Mr. Swingler

Taking the second point first, that is indeed part of the policy which is being applied.

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I think that I can confirm that that is so. If the hon. Gentleman has any particular case in mind I should like to inquire into it. But, in the first period of the policy, of 319 appeals to appeals tribunals, 206 have failed, 87 are under consideration and only 26 have succeeded. I think that this shows the value of the policy.

Mr. Spriggs

When looking into this problem, will my right hon. Friend consider the position of a person sent to work at another place where train services are being cancelled or abolished altogether, making it almost impossible for him to work at a distance of up to 100 miles, as suggested by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue)?

Mr. Swingler

If my hon. Friend can draw my attention to any such case I will go into it. Certainly the availability of travel facilities should be taken into account in all these cases.

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