§ Mr. Barry Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if, in view of the considerable delay in the payment of make-up payments to redundant steel-workers formerly employed at the British Steel Corporation Shotton works, he will urgently institute an inquiry into the reasons for the delays in paying make-up payments from the Sheffield agency office of his Department; and if he will make a statement.170W
§ Mr. Michael Marshall
No. The delays which have occurred in such cases stem from the very large number of redundancies in the steel industry in 1980. Benefits under the joint United Kingdom Government/European Community scheme are linked to previous earnings. The amounts due each week of the benefit period are assessed by the Department's agency office on the basis of information which has to be obtained from the former employer, the new employer or training establishment, and other Government Departments, as well as the steel worker concerned. The need to deal as quickly as possible with the effects of the 1980 steel redundancy programme put heavy pressure on the organisations concerned.
In the case of Shotton, the steel strike early last year presented an additional obstacle in getting information on eligible redundant steel workers to the Department's agency office. To date, some £5 million has been paid in benefits to 5,865 Shotton workers and the agency is working overtime to clear outstanding payments to the remaining 217 people notified as eligible.