§ Mr. Shersby
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many unemployed 16 to 17-year-olds received severe hardship payments during the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available(a) in England and Wales and (b) in the London borough of Hillingdon; if he has any proposals to change the mechanism for making such payments; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Burt
In the year ending March 1992 19,444 unemployed 16 and 17-year-olds in England and Wales received income support under the severe hardship provision. Information about the London borough of Hillingdon could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Last month, the Benefits Agency issued improved and comprehensive guidance to local offices on handling claims from 16 and 17-year-olds which includes a good practices guide. This should improve and streamline the delivery of benefits to 16 and 17-year-olds. We will be monitoring the situation closely.