HC Deb 31 July 1997 vol 299 cc589-90W
Mr. Öpik

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what guidelines have been issued concerning the assessment of claims for the jobseeker's allowance; what further guidelines she plans to publish; and if she will make a statement. [11918]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The chief adjudication officer, who has statutory responsibility for issuing guidance to adjudication officers, has revised the adjudication officers' guide to include guidance on the assessment of claims to jobseeker's allowance. The AOG is readily available to members of the public at social security offices and most major public libraries, and is regularly updated to reflect changes in legislation and decisions made by the social security commissioners.

The Government believe that work is the best form of welfare for people of working age. Our welfare-to-work objectives are to provide work incentives, to reduce poverty and welfare dependency and to strike a new balance between responsibilities and rights. A programme of monitoring and evaluation is under way to enable us to ensure that jobseeker's allowance contributes to achieving our objectives.

Mr. Öpik

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what plans she has to change the appeal and tribunal process relating to claims made for the jobseeker's allowance; and if she will make a statement; [11916]

(2) how many appeals have been made against decisions to (a) withdraw and (b) deny receipt of the jobseeker's allowance; how many hearings have been heard under the appeal system; how much notice is given of the date of a hearing; and if she will make a statement. [11904]

Mr. Bradley

On 9 July, we introduced the Social Security Bill which will modernise the delivery of social security. The Bill contains measures to provide a more streamlined, efficient and faster appeals system for social security benefits including jobseeker's allowance. We shall be setting and publishing demanding targets and reporting on the results.

The information regarding jobseeker's allowance appeals is not available in the format requested. The available information is as follows.

At the end of June, the independent tribunal service had received 24,802 appeals involving jobseeker's allowance. A total of 8,620 appeals have been cleared; 3,884 at hearings. Regulations require the ITS to provide a minimum of seven days notice of the date of a hearing. The ITS routinely provides more notice than this, however, and in many areas is currently giving three to four weeks' advance notification.