§ Mr. Meadowcroft
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether, for the purposes of claiming supplementary and other means-tested benefits, he will consider treating covenant payments representing parental contributions to student maintenance grants as local education authority grants; and if he will make a statement;
(2) whether, in assessing the income of student claimants for rent allowance during term-time, covenant payments representing parental contributions to student maintenance grants are deemed to cover term-time alone or the entire calendar year;
(3) whether, in assessing the income of student claimants for supplementary benefit during the summer vacation, covenant payments representing parental contribution to student maintenance grants are deemed to cover term-time alone or the entire calendar year.
§ Mr. Newton
So far as supplementary benefit is concerned the chief adjudication officer has issued guidance which states that, where the amount paid to a student under a covenant together with the tax refund is no more than the assessed parental contribution, the total should not be taken into account for benefit purposes during the summer vacation. Students are unlikely to qualify for family income supplement because they will not satisfy the full-time work condition.
For housing benefit, in general we would expect local authorities to take a parental contribution paid by means of a covenant into account on the same basis as the grant to which it relates. For most students this will mean that payments are taken into account only in term-time and the 765W Christmas and Easter vacations. However, circumstances may arise in which the terms of a covenant are such that an authority decides to take the income into account over a longer period. We have no plans to change the relevant legislation. However, I understand that the chief adjudication officer is considering issuing further guidance on supplementary benefit.