HC Deb 30 June 1982 vol 26 cc342-3W
Miss Joan Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many women in Northern Ireland submitting fresh claims for benefit were required to produce declarations concerning child care arrangements in the most recent year for which the figures are available;

(2) whether, in view of the finding of the Rayner investigation on the payment of benefits to unemployed peoples that declarations of child care arrangements are open to abuse and virtually impossible to verify, he will now abolish this requirement;

(3) what guidelines are issued to officers at benefit offices as to the administration of child care declarations.

(4) how many women in Northern Ireland who were required to produce declarations concerning child care arrangements were disallowed benefit in the year 1981.

Mr. John Patten

The provisions of social security legislation are the same throughout the United Kingdom, but there are differences in the administrative arrangements made for the payment of social security benefits—including unemployment benefit—between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Thus, no women in Northern Ireland have been required to produce declarations of child care arrangements. The references in the Rayner scrutiny report are based on a misunderstanding of the procedures in Northern Ireland for the determination of eligibility for unemployment benefit. Since no declaration is required no guidelines have been issued, but general instructions have been given on the procedures to be followed in dealing with people claiming unemployment benefit who place restrictions on their availability for work.

Information on the numbers of claimants refused benefit on grounds of restricted availability for work—including those where the principal reason for restricted availability was given as domestic circumstances—could be obtained at only disproportionate cost.

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