HC Deb 03 March 1986 vol 93 cc60-1W
Mr. Frank Field

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will state the average value of work expenses currently disregarded when calculating the resources of supplementary benefit claimants; and if he will list the maximum and minimum values of such expenses;

(2) if he has any plans to discontinue the work expenses disregard when calculating the resources of income support claimants.

Mr. Newton

As the White Paper, "Reform of Social Security: Programme for Action" (Cmnd. 9691) makes clear at paragraphs 3.37 to 3.39, it is proposed to adopt a more standard approach to the assessment of earnings for income-related benefits. This approach is consistent with the objective of aligning the rules for help in income support, housing benefit and family credit and will mean that earnings will be assessed on a net basis, without allowing deductions for work expenses. In recognition of this, it is proposed that the present supplementary benefit £4 earnings disregard be increased to £5 a week under income support. In addition, an improved disregard of £15 a week will be introduced for lone parents, disabled people and couples who have been unemployed for two years.

Information is not collected on what amounts or types of expenses are deducted for work expenses at present but I would expect most such part-time work to be undertaken locally. Some information on the average work expenses of lone parents is contained in a study* carried out by the social policy research unit of the University of York in 1982. It showed that the average weekly costs of travel to work and child care for the minority of lone parents on supplementary benefit who had part-time work were £1.18 and £0.94 respectively.

* Lone Mothers Paid Work and Social Security; Occasional Papers on Social Administration 77.