§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many 16 and 17-year-olds have received severe hardship allowance in each year since their entitlement to benefit in respect of unemployment was withdrawn. 
§ Mr. Keith Bradley
Our objective is to reduce poverty and welfare dependency and to promote work incentives. We will develop a system that supports work, savings and honesty. One of our first steps is to focus on helping people off welfare and into work.
Unemployed 16 and 17-year-olds who register for work and training can exceptionally apply for benefit if they would otherwise face severe hardship. The number of such young people receiving benefit fluctuates throughout the year but the latest estimate is that some 12,000 receive it at any one point in time.