HC Deb 15 December 1983 vol 50 cc564-5W
Mr. Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the total number of men aged between 60 years and 65 years who have opted to declare themselves as retired rather than as unemployed; how many of such men are aged 60, 61, 62, 63, and 64 years, respectively; whether it is his policy that the total level of financial support available to such men from public sources should be as nearly as practicable equivalent to that available to those over the normal retirement age; and whether such men receive a Christmas bonus.

Dr. Boyson

Men aged between 60 and 65 who claim supplementary benefit are entitled to the long-term scale rate and are not required to be available for work. This recognises that many of these men will in effect have retired from the labour market. They are not, however, obliged to do so and if they wish they may continue to seek work. They may also continue to receive unemployment benefit or incapacity benefits if they are entitled to them. For the purposes of the social security scheme as a whole there is therefore no question of them being treated in the same way as men who have reached the normal retiring age. They are not entitled to receive the Christmas bonus unless they are also in receipt of a long-term incapacity benefit.

At August 1983, the latest date for which information is available, 106,000 men aged between 60 and 65 were receiving supplementary benefit. It is not known how many of these men had effectively retired from the employment market; some would still have been actively seeking work and others would have been temporarily sick. No breakdown by age is available.