HC Deb 24 January 2000 vol 343 c83W
Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what incidental costs can be offset from a councillor's basic allowance when assessing their entitlement to incapacity benefit. [105517]

Mr. Bayley

The benefit rules permit limited work to be undertaken by people in certain circumstances without affecting their right to claim incapacity benefits. Work undertaken as a councillor is disregarded for the purposes of determining whether a person is incapable of work. However, Incapacity Benefit is reduced pound for pound where the net amount of the councillor's allowance exceeds a set limit, currently £49.50. In assessing the net amount of the councillor's allowance to be taken into account any expenses incurred in connection with the person's membership of the council are ignored. Such expenses are not specified in regulations but may include items such as clothes, travel costs and telephone calls.

We propose to bring forward regulations in April as part of the annual up-rating exercise to increase the councillor's allowance limit from £49.50 to £58.50. This significant increase will align it with the therapeutic earnings limit in Incapacity Benefit.