HC Deb 22 December 1982 vol 34 cc600-1W
Mr. Heddle

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will announce the result of the review of the rates of allowance payable under the job release scheme.

Mr. Alison

Following the review of the rates of allowance under the job release scheme, the allowances which will apply as from 11 April 1983 are as followsFor the schemes for disabled men aged 60 and 61 and men aged 62 and 63: £67.20 a week, taxable for married applicants with a dependent wife whose net income from all sources does not exceed £13 a week. £54.60 a week, taxable for all other applicants. For the scheme for men aged 64 and women aged 59: £57.75 a week, tax-free, for married applicants with a dependent husband or wife whose net income from all sources does not exceed £13 a week. £45.70 a week, tax-free, for all other applicants. The allowances paid to men aged 64 and women aged 59 are tax-free because under section 30 of the Finance Act 1977 only those job release allowances paid for more than a year are required to be taxed.

Leaflets showing the revised rates of allowance will be available shortly.

I have also decided to make a number of changes designed to improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the scheme.

At present employers must give an undertaking to recruit an appropriate replacement. Unfortunately, there have been a number of cases in which this undertaking has not been fulfilled. In future, therefore, the job release allowance will not be paid to a retiring employee until the employer has recruited a replacement worker who is unemployed or falls into another approved category. Applicants will be advised not to complete their arrangements to leave their jobs until they are assured that the job release allowance will be paid.

Where a replacement worker is not recruited for the same job, it is already a requirement that there must be a clear and demonstrable link between the job vacated and the vacancy to which the replacement is recruited. It will be made clear in future leaflets that each job vacancy in the chain of moves created by the retirement of the job release applicant must be filled, so that the last vacancy provides a job for an unemployed person.

It will also be made clear that the scheme is not open to people, whether disabled or not, who are being forced to retire early for health reasons.

Those who voluntarily leave jobs with the intention of replacing JRS applicants will not be accepted as eligible replacements.

In future, application forms should be submitted not less than eight weeks in advance of the projected retirement date of the applicant. The current rules stipulate a six-week minimum period.

The new rules will come into effect on 6 April 1983. This means that applications under the existing rules must be with jobcentres-employment offices not later than Tuesday 22 February 1983.

I am continuing to keep the rules of the scheme under review.