HC Deb 10 January 2000 vol 342 cc13-4
11. Mrs. Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton)

If he will make a statement on the treatment of local exchange trading scheme units for the purpose of calculating benefits. [102938]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Angela Eagle)

If unemployed people undertake local exchange trading scheme activities for less than 16 hours a week on average, they can earn up to £260 worth of credits in a year without affecting their benefit. Our understanding is that the average level of earnings from local exchange trading systems is around £80 a year.

Mrs. Gilroy

My hon. Friend has taken a great interest in LET schemes, and is aware of the report of the policy action team on jobs, which was published before Christmas. That made a number of recommendations, including piloting changes to the rules on local exchange trading schemes and units. Is my hon. Friend considering such changes to the rules so that LET schemes can play their full role in helping people to re-enter the labour market?

Angela Eagle

I know that my hon. Friend takes a close interest in LETS and is involved in their development. We recognise their value in promoting social inclusion and their potential in easing a move to full-time work. We have received representations and, as my hon. Friend pointed out, the report of the policy action team on jobs, issued on 7 December by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, also makes similar points. We are looking closely at the report's recommendations, and will make announcements in due course.