HC Deb 19 November 1996 vol 285 cc522-3W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to review the jobseeker's allowance. [4473]

Mr. Roger Evans

We have no plans to review the jobseeker's allowance. However, we have in place a long-term programme of monitoring and evaluation to measure whether jobseeker's allowance is achieving its policy objectives. The Benefits Agency and Employment Service have set up an extensive monitoring programme to assess implementation and performance of the new allowance with frequent reports to managers.

Mr. Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the procedures for determining whether an individual is capable of work under the jobseeker's allowance; and what account is taken of the local general practitioner's opinion. [4474]

Mr. Evans

Where there are doubts about a person's capacity for work under jobseeker's allowance, the case is referred to the adjudication officer. Whether a person is capable or incapable of work is determined under the same provisions that apply to incapacity benefit. A medical certificate issued by a person's own general practitioner is normally accepted as evidence of incapacity until such time as an assessment has been made under the all work incapacity test.

Under the short-term sickness provision in jobseeker's allowance, a person may be treated as capable of work for up to two weeks on two occasions in any one jobseeking period or in each 12 months where the jobseeking period lasts 12 months or more. A general practitioner's statement is not required for the purpose of determining whether these provisions apply.

Mr. Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to review the appeals procedure in respect of the jobseeker's allowance. [4475]

Mr. Evans

Full details of the Government's proposals for new appeals arrangements are set out in the Green Paper, "Improving decision making and appeals in Social Security", Cm 3328 which was published on July 23. The proposals cover all social security benefits including jobseeker's allowance, child support maintenance, war pensions and Contributions Agency rulings.

The consultation period ended on 18 October, and the responses received are currently being independently analysed. We plan to publish the results of the consultation exercise early in the new year, and I will ensure that a copy is placed in the Library. Final decisions on the best way forward will be taken in the light of all the representations received.

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