HC Deb 27 July 1988 vol 138 cc360-1W
Mr. Dunnachie

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will make estrangement from home and family sufficient grounds for a young person to qualify for income support;

(2) what discretion is given to local offices to pay benefit to 17-year-olds forced to live away from home as a result of sexual abuse and unable to undertake a YTS placement as a result of psychological problems;

(3) what provision is made for young persons to receive benefit where they have been thrown out of their homes by their parents;

(4) what are the criteria under which a 17-year-old made homeless is entitled to income supplement.

Mr. Scott

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the situation after 12 September when young people aged under 18 will no longer be eligible for income support, except in prescribed circumstances.

Income support will continue for those who are estranged from their parents and who are in full-time education, and also for those who are (either physically or psychologically) so ill or so disabled that they will not be capable of work or training under the Youth Training Scheme within a year.

Income support will be payable for a period—from 12 September to the end of the year for summer school leavers and for 12 weeks after child benefit normally ends for Christmas and Easter leavers—to young people living away from home because of the risk of physical or sexual abuse, those who are in care or prison immediately before their 16th birthday and those who entered accommodation away from home as part of a programme of rehabilitation or resettlement under the guidance of social services or the probabtion service. Such young people will have to be registered for a job or for the Youth Training Scheme. In addition, income support may be payable at the direction of the Secretary of State where failure to pay would cause severe hardship.

A young person who is estranged from his parents but is not continuing in full-time education will not qualify for income support on grounds of estrangement alone; benefit will depend on his being in one of the eligible categories described above. Similarly a 16 or 17-year-old who is homeless or who has been thrown out by his parents will not receive benefit unless he is in one of the eligible groups.