§ Mr. David Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his Department's policy in respect of benefit eligibility towards unemployed people who make themselves completely unemployable by their appearance.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to Mr. David Atkinson, dated 3 November 1993: 266WAs the Employment Service is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked me to write to you direct to respond to your Parliamentary Question to him about the policy in respect of benefit eligibility towards unemployed people who make themselves completely unemployable by their appearance. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.A client can be held to have neglected to avail themself of an employment opportunity if, because of their unreasonable conduct, an offer of employment is withdrawn or a prospective employer considers them unsuitable. In such cases they can be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit for up to 26 weeks.We cannot enforce a set standard of dress to clients using our services. However, we expect clients to dress appropriately for job interviews.In addition when someone refuses an offer of employment brought to their notice by us, unless they can show good cause for their refusal, they can be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit for up to 26 weeks. When offering a vacancy we are expected to consider whether the individual, given their background and experience, could reasonably be expected to undertake the work.Whether these rules apply in individual cases is for the independent adjudicating authorities to decide. These authorities are in the first place an adjudication officer; on appeal a Social Security Appeal Tribunal; and on further appeal, on a point of law only, a Social Security Commissioner. The independence of these authorities prevents me or any Minister from intervening in or commenting on their decisions.As decided by the Administration Committee of the House of Commons, Chief Executive replies to written Parliamentary Questions will now be published in the Official Report. I will also place a copy of this letter in the Library of the House.