§ Mr. Neil Hamilton
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plans to extend the period for which a person can be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit on account of voluntary unemployment.
§ Mr. Scott
At present, section 20 of the Social Security Act 1975 provides that a person is to be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit for a maximum of 13 weeks in various circumstances that fall broadly under the heading of voluntary unemployment. If the person receives supplementary benefit it is reduced, normally by 40 per cent. of the claimant's personal benefit rate, for the same period.
A main purpose of these sanctions is to discourage people from leaving jobs voluntarily without just cause. However, over the nine months from October 1986, when the maximum disqualification period was increased from six to 13 weeks, the number of claims from people leaving work for this reason has increased at a time when, thanks to falling unemployment and the strengthening economy, the total number of claims from unemployed people has significantly reduced. We therefore intend to extend the maximum period from 13 to 26 weeks from 11 April 1988—the date of introduction of income support. We shall be introducing an affirmative order and regulations to give effect to this change.