§ Mr. Madden
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has for extending the job release scheme.767W
§ Mr. Booth
I announced on 20 February that the job release scheme would continue in the year from 1 April 1979. We have decided to expand this scheme by reducing the age at which men become eligible to use it from 64 to 62 and to 60 for disabled men. The age of eligibility for women will remain at 59.
It will remain a condition of the scheme that when an employer releases a person under it he must take into employment a person currently registered as unemployed. When an employer releases a disabled person under the scheme he must wherever possible take into employment a disabled person from the unemployment register. The changes in the ages of eligibility for men generally will be made on 1 May, and we aim to make the change for disabled men from the same date.
The allowance paid under the scheme will be increased on 1 April to £40 a week for a married person with a dependent spouse with income of £8.50 or less a week, and to £31.50 a week for all other applicants.
With the longer period of payment under the expanded scheme the allowance will under existing legislation become taxable. Payments made under the scheme will not be charged to tax during 1979–80. Payments will be charged to tax from April 1980, but when the allowance is taxed it is our intention to increase its value so that on average there will be no loss to recipients.
The cost of the expanded scheme will be covered by the provision for the employment and training programme in the Government's White Paper on its public expenditure plans, 1979–80 to 1982–83 (Cmnd. 7439).