HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc43-4W
Mr. Andrew Turner

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements are in place to ensure that the receipt of linked benefits does not make jobseeker's allowance claimants better off out of work than in work. [43245]

Malcolm Wicks

We are taking a single approach to work and benefits to make work pay, make work possible and to support those who cannot work. This service will be delivered through Jobcentre Plus—a personal service with one goal: helping people of working age to live independent lives.

People receiving working families tax credit or disabled person's tax credit with net income of around £11,740 a year or less are eligible for a tax credit national health service exemption certificate. This entitles them to free national health service prescriptions, dental treatment, wigs, fabric supports, sight tests, full value optical vouchers and help with the cost of travel to hospital for national health service treatment. For those with a child under one year old baby food is available at a reduced price.

In addition, anybody in work who has a low income can claim help with the cost of national health service treatment provided they have savings of less than £8,000 (£12,000 if aged 60 or over; or £19,000 if they live permanently in a residential care or nursing home). Depending on their income people may be eligible for either a full (HC2) or partial (HC3) Department of Health exemption certificate. The HC2 certificate entitles the person to free NHS services; the HC3 certificate entitles the person to some help towards NHS charges.

People receiving working families tax credit or disabled person's tax credit (where the amount of tax credit is paid in full or reduced by £70 or less) and who have a close relative, or partner, in prison can get help with the cost of travel to visit them. Help is also available in these circumstances for people who hold a Department of Health HC2 or HC3 certificate.

Housing benefit and council tax benefit are available to people in work to help pay their rent and council tax. Part of their income is disregarded when assessing the amount of benefit payable to guarantee that a person is better off in work than out of work.

Sure Start maternity grants are available if a person or their partner is in receipt of working families tax credit or disabled person's tax credit. And help with funeral payments is available through the social fund for the person who is responsible for the funeral if they are receiving working families tax credit, disabled person's tax credit, housing benefit, or council tax benefit.

From April 2003 we will introduce two new tax credits. The child tax credit will offer a single, seamless system of support for families with children, while the working tax credit will help to improve the financial gains to work. The working tax credit will, for the first time, extend in-work support through tax credits to people without children.

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