§ Mr. Ainger
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many new claimants have been disallowed income support because the weekly working hours regulation has been reduced from 24 hours to 16 hours;
(2) if he will review the regulation that disallows claimants income support and therefore mortgage interest payment because their partner works more than 16 hours per week;
(3) how many claimants have been refused income support and mortgage interest payments from his Department because their partners work between 16 and 24 hours per week; and how many have subsequently re-applied and been allowed benefit because (a) their partners have stopped work or (b) work less than 16 hours per week;
(4) how many home owners are (a) having their homes repossessed or (b) in arrears of more than two months 607W with their mortgage because they are not in receipt of mortgage interest payments from his Department because their partners work more than 16 hours per week.
§ Mr. Burt
The information requested is not available. The change in the income support hours rule from 24 to 16 hours a week was made in April 1992 as part of a package of measures aimed at helping working families with children, and lone parents in particular. By reducing the number of hours it is necessary to work in order to qualify for family credit, many more families are able to claim that benefit and many will be better-off than they would have been on income support, even after paying for their mortgage.
Those people who were working, or whose partners were working, between 16 and 24 hours a week and receiving income support at the point of change were able to continue to receive income support including any help with their mortgage interest.
It is too soon to say how the rule is working in practice but we are monitoring its effects.