§ Mr. A. MacKay
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy towards the call of the Association of Chief Officers of Probation for a review of social security provisions to ensure that benefits policy supports criminal justice aims.
§ Mr. John Patten
The Government continue to monitor the effects of the recent changes in social security provision. As part of this monitoring the Home Office maintains close liaison with the Department of Social Security. We are also considering carefully the findings of the recent research carried out for the Association of Chief Officers of Probation by the university of Lancaster.
As a result of the monitoring arrangements my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Social Security recently announced (27 November 1989 at columns 420–21) a number of procedural improvements which are designed to ensure that claims for income support from young people, including young offenders, are dealt with more effectively and sympathetically. These changes demonstrate the Government's willingness to act when areas of genuine difficulty are identified.
The Home Office has already issued guidance to the probation service on the effects of the Social Security Acts 1988 and 1989. Further guidance is being prepared to explain what benefits are available to offenders and ex-offenders.