§ Mr. Wigley
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make it his policy to ensure that those over the age of 60 years claiming unemployment benefit do not have to fulfil availability for work criteria if they are not currently working, and have taken early retirement under a recognised early retirement scheme.
§ Mr. Jack
Unemployment benefit is a short-term contributory benefit for people who are temporarily unemployed. To receive this benefit, a person must be capable of and available for work. He or she must also actively seek work. We have no plans to exempt persons aged 60 or over from these conditions.
However, a person aged 60 or over is not required to be available for work in order to receive income support, or class 1 national insurance credits to maintain their entitlement to sickness benefit and retirement pension.