§ Ms. Short
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what impact the earnings paid to participants in the action credit pilot scheme being run by the employment service will have on their(a) entitlement to housing benefit, (b) entitlement to community charge benefit, and (c) entitlement to income support during (i) the time that they are building up their terminal commission bonus and (ii) when they receive their accumulated bonus at the end of the action credit; and if he will make a statement.
§ Miss Widdecombe
The action credit scheme was recently piloted by the Department of Employment's training, enterprise and education directorate (formerly the Training Agency) for people leaving employment training who are receiving income support.
Under the scheme, participants who take up part-time work placements receive payments equal to the level of their income support earnings disregard, normally £5 or 592W £15 per week. These earnings have no effect on entitlement to income support, housing benefit or community charge benefit.
The balance of the earnings is accumulated and paid at a later date. Any income support in payment is reduced by the net weekly equivalent of the earnings, after deducting a further earnings disregard, for a forward period equal to the length of the period of employment. Housing benefit and community charge benefit are not affected.
If income support is not in payment, or is extinguished by the earnings, the accumulated bonus is treated as capital for the purposes of housing benefit and community charge benefit. It will only affect those benefits if the payment takes any existing capital over £3,000, of if the participant's capital is already over that amount.