HC Deb 04 April 1995 vol 257 cc1060-1W
Dr. Hendron

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans the Government have to reduce the number of hours permitted for a person on benefit to attend courses at colleges of further education without losing benefit; and if they have examined the impact of these plans on(a) the participation in vocational education courses by the long-term unemployed and (b) the future of further education establishments particularly those developed specifically to tackle the shortage of skills in areas of high unemployment. [17069]

Mr. Moss

The Government have announced proposals to update the rules for part-time study while claiming unemployment benefits when jobseeker's allowance is introduced in April 1996.

As now, people claiming unemployment benefits will be able to study part-time provided they remain available for and are actively seeking employment. Courses funded by the Further Education Funding Council in England are, however, no longer classed as either full or part-time. They are defined in terms of the number of guided learning hours per week and the Government have decided, therefore, that for benefit purposes, part-time further education courses in England will be defined as courses up to 16 guided learning hours.

The concept of guided learning hours does not apply in Northern Ireland and consideration is being given to definitions that will reflect the education system in Northern Ireland. The new rules will be designed so that the same number of people can study part time while claiming unemployment benefits as do so now.

Forward to