HC Deb 27 July 1976 vol 916 cc229-30
3. Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he intends to phase out the earnings rule.

The Minister of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Mr. Stanley Orme)

We have no plans to do this at the present time, because of the prohibitive cost.

Mr. Skeet

Does the Minister appreciate that the £50 sum is enshrined in the Social Security Act 1975, and does he agree that it should be extended to £65 per week, which is the average wage earned in manufacturing industry? Surely the Government must respect this situation. It is far better for retirement pensioners to be independent. Will he say how many people are likely to be involved following the abolition of the earnings rule?

Mr. Orme

The Government are to amend the Act in the next Session to restrict the figure to £35, with appropriate cost-of-living adjustments. Most people who now benefit from the earnings rule will not suffer because of the £35 limit. If the rule were abolished altogether, about 110,000 people would be involved.

Mr. Hooley

Does the Minister agree that it is grossly unfair that earnings-related supplement to unemployment pay should be subject to the earnings rule, since this can only discriminate against the lowest paid?

Mr. Orme

I am examining that matter.

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